Posted on Tue 29th Oct 2019 at 8:38pm
What was your first job in the industry?
At 18, I joined the Publicity Unit at the Automobile Association. Among numerous responsibilities the team organised the AA’s presence at national exhibitions and events. I served an unofficial five-year apprenticeship under the watchful eye of the Exhibition Officer who was an ex RAF pilot and ex pilot of the AA’s own traffic spotter planes. He introduced me to Earls Court, Olympia and the NEC. He also collected all the screws, nails and miscellaneous ironmongery left behind on site by contractors and never needed to visit a hardware store!
What has been your biggest challenge?
Convincing people in a corporate environment I could be useful without a university background. I learned fast and worked hard and developed a genuine interest and aptitude for exhibition design, live event production, marketing and branding.
Who’s inspired you?
My son. From a shy and insecure youngster with tears streaming down his face every morning at the window of his primary school classroom as his mum dropped him off, to becoming Head Boy of his secondary school and going on to graduate with a First at Reading University in Maths. He is now taking on a PHD. Not naturally gifted but very determined, focused and passionate about his subject. He also wanted to be a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” and now holds a 3rd Dan Black Belt in Karate!
How has the industry changed?
In some ways lots in others not so much. The technology we have today is great and helps create a better visitor experience. Audio visual, lighting, modular display equipment and graphic production get better all the time. But we still need teams of men and women with lorry loads of wood, metal, plastic, carpet etc and a plan to go into big cold empty spaces and assemble the dream! Additionally the time allowed to do it all continues to be compressed making it all the more challenging.
However, I still get a thrill going into those halls and spaces with a team and seeing the incredible transformation from chalk-marks on the floor to a buzzing world of (mostly positive) human interaction.
What’s your criteria when selecting a supplier for your events?
Budget is always a consideration, but ultimately, I want to work with people who are good at what they do, care about how they do it and who want to work with me and my colleagues.
Paul describes himself as an events industry journeyman with nearly 40 years of experience as a buyer, contractor and organiser of exhibition and event services. Since 2013 he has worked for Lyrical Communications Ltd and specifically the Installer brand where he has helped launch and develop the InstallerSHOW, the UK’s leading plumbing and heating trade exhibition.