How did you first get attracted to the events and conferencing business?
The sheer variety of the skills and disciplines required to pull off a truly successful conference. Even after more than 25 years I still learn something new every day.
What were the most common early challenges and what tips would you pass on?
This is a very fluid and sometimes hectic industry, my advice would be to embrace that and commit with confidence to everything that is required to deliver an excellent event – the personal achievement of seeing a project delivered well and knowing that you helped make that happen is worth it.
Best advice received and given during your career?
To make sure that I knew about every component of the project – allowing for informed decisions and suggestions for alternative courses of action where necessary. This is also the best advice I have given to others, but that is for the recipients to decide.
Most rewarding conference and most complex?
Most rewarding is probably the ‘Reckless Driving Wrecks Lives’ events, working with front line emergency services staff to press upon young adults the importance of safe driving. I still well up at some of the horrific stories told.
The most complex is probably the annual GPCA event – 2,000+ people gathered in Dubai over three days, involving multiple presenters, hotels and evening entertainments.
What do organisers tend to most often overlook in the conference production process?
Venue ceiling height and adequate set-up and rehearsal time.
Your top 3 tips for running smooth events?
1. Work collaboratively as a team with everyone involved.
2. Communicate clearly what is required and what isn’t.
3. Consider every possible point of failure and pre-plan a fix.
Insights on using technology well for events, and what trends are you seeing now?
To use technology well, the ‘keep it simple’ principle should apply.
Always use the best kit available and consider contingency backup for key systems.
Question the context of use for the chosen technology, how it reinforces the overall message and what value it adds.
The trends of the moment appear to be a more prolific use of video and animation thanks to the availability of 4K and projection mapping technology. The use of apps and integrated personal content delivery is becoming more prevalent and I am looking forward to seeing if VR will integrate in coming years.
Funniest conference moment?
When interviewing Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in Silicon Valley. Having been told by his people that we would have 45 minutes, he spent the next hour and a half showing us magic tricks, recounting tales of the early years and enthusing about technology… absolute legend. Then we shot the interview.
Biggest passion out of work?
Skiing. My plan is to teach one of my kids to ski so I can share that passion with them this year.