Posted on Thu 28th Feb 2019 at 3:55pm
What was your first job in the industry?
I started in a very small company, Independent Exhibitions, (I was the third in!), working on two shows: Manutech (Manufacturing Technology), and the Computers in Manufacturing Show. At that time we were a minnow taking on the might of EMAP (as they were then) and Reed Exhibitions. Formidable competitors, but we had the power of publishing behind us which helped to create highly successful events (and more spin offs in the years to come!)
What has been your biggest challenge?
The reason I love the exhibition industry so much is the variety of challenges that are thrown. Annually recreating the sales & marketing message for the product, no matter how successful the show has been, is probably the biggest challenge we all face.
Who’s inspired you?
The very nature of the exhibition industry means it is packed with creative and inspiring individuals and I’ve been lucky enough to work or meet with many who have helped and inspired. But if I have to name names it would be Andrew Dedman, Andy Center and Richard Copley-Smith. Andrew’s knowledge of the exhibition industry is encyclopaedic: Andy is by some distance the best at spotting and developing a business and Richard is simply a guru in the industry. Any business blessed with these three is a successful one and I was lucky enough to have been in that company!
How has the industry changed?
There has been enormous change over the 30 odd years I’ve worked in the exhibition industry such as the role and relative importance of differing departments as well as the interaction with suppliers. But at the end of the day the basic premise of the exhibition industry remains the same. It is our job to get sellers connected to buyers. In short we act as enzymes, and that will never change.
What’s your criteria when selecting a supplier for your events?
In short, I look for what does the supplier add to the exhibitor and/or visitor experience within our events. There also needs to be a bond of trust as selected contractors are interacting with our customers, and shoddy production can completely destroy the experience. There also needs to be an understanding of our business and hence flexibility. As an example, when launching New Scientist Live I needed a contractor who could work with the many and varied demands from a science community unused to the demands of an exhibition. It needed patience and time - fortunately we found Showlite and in particular, Anthony who delivered precisely what we needed.
Mike’s career spans over 30 years in the industry working at some of the biggest companies and on market leading brands. Following 17 years at Penton Media, Mike has launched and sold events at his own company Firecast Media, managed consumer shows at Clarion, and held MD roles at Centaur, Nineteen and Archant. More recently, Mike launched the award winning New Scientist Live. Mike is currently Exhibition Director & Board Member at Mash Media.