A Day in the Life: Blitz|GES’s Mike Philipson

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Every day the first thing I think of is the film Risky Business. Over the hum of a fan, the tumbling sound of the London Underground filters through the walls of my apartment. Most people who have watched the film would recall Tom Cruise dancing in his underpants, but for me it is the sound of the Chicago ‘L’ intermingled with the music track from Tangerine Dream.

I love London, but this is a love affair that has been rekindled after rejecting it 20 years ago in favour of a more rural, bucolic lifestyle.

The truth is I now love both urban and rural, so I am two-timing and I should know better. As you grow older there comes a time in your life like a point of fulcrum. At that moment in time you must accept yourself. It is not any more what you will become. It is what you are and always will be.

Our Blitz HQ is based in Elstree, a short drive away from where I live in London. Being based in Elstree means we have some of the best creative and technical talent on the planet close to hand, when it comes to events. This is why I call them ‘The Talent’, rather than employees or colleagues.

I see a big part of my job as helping ‘The Talent’ at Blitz succeed in what they do. So, when I get in, I always try to speak with as many of them as possible.

We have regular all company ‘check-ins’, where I like to get the team talking about what they have been up to. I say a few words on the vision, commercials and highlight any opportunities or risks, but I really want it to be their meeting.

We have Blitz teams based in venues in London Excel, Olympia, NEC and Manchester Central and this list is growing.

So, apart from Elstree I have regular contact with ‘The Talent’ based at these venues. I prefer face to face where possible and I think they do too – to go through the challenges we collectively face – to make things better for our customers.

We talk about the customer being at our core and in our veins. On this, I try to lead by example, by listening and responding to what our customers have to say.

This week that has ranged from an hour-and-a-half 1-1 catch-up with the enigmatic CEO of London ExCeL, David Pegler, to talking with the brilliant team at Ascential about a forthcoming event.

If I did not have the customer in my core and in my veins, I do not think I could do my job. Walking the corridors of our customers is not an option, it is a mandatory inclusion.

Because Blitz is growing, my day is also taken up with commercial, operational, marketing and HR meetings, as we look to expand our offer. As an example, we are moving our set and staging team to larger premises next to the Elstree HQ. This will give us even more opportunities to grow that team, but also it will improve the efficiency of our Elstree warehouse, where that team used to sit.

With nearly £15m of video, sound, lighting etc equipment in our warehouse, this is a golden opportunity for us to make our offer to customers even more attractive.

When I get back in the evening I like to spend more time exploring London, attending events (and learning new tricks), visiting theatres, cinemas, galleries, watching sport live (rugby particularly) and mixing with people who are restlessly curious.

At the weekend, I then switch to my house in the country and that time is spent with the family and friends and everything is at a different pace and firmly has a privacy setting mode attached to it.

Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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