The exhibition industry is a diverse, creative and fast-moving sector, so what more can we do to attract and keep talent? The 2016 EN Race Day panel offer their advice and top tips.
Jason Stead, managing director, UK, GES:
"When you talk to people it’s important to get a sense of their ambition; what they want to achieve and if it’s realistic. I tend to take people out for a drink. You can’t act for two hours over two pints. You do see people acting in interviews and I worry about that sometimes, it’s very stage-managed.
There is an image issue in terms of getting people through the front door, but once they get here it starts to make sense. You come across talent as you move across the industry. We have contacts with so many different organisations that people quite often approach us, or we’ll see people who are forming particularly well. Which brings up the subject of do you poach or don’t you poach? I’m also a big fan of trying to bring talent in from outside the industry. I think we could stagnate if we just keep recycling the people we’ve got."
Chris Hughes, CEO, Brand Events:
"We think that most of what we do is teachable, the one thing that you can give people is experience. The worst CV is someone who shows up with four jobs, all at brilliant companies, three years at each. They’ve worked at good places but they’ve never made it work. You could put a theory together for the event organising type. I think fundamentally we’re showy-offy, we’re very sociable, we like people, we see problems, experience them and get up again, we don’t get easily put off. We’re capable of hanging out with important people and we’re happy picking up dog sh*t.
I’m not into the three days a week thing. I want to employ people who are going to work really hard because they love their jobs. As a boss I’m not trying to make people relaxed, I’m trying to get huge amounts of commitment out of people because I want them to want to be doing it."
Jazmin Beale, head of marketing and communications, Olympia London:
"You need to get under the skin of a person who’s only in front of you for maybe two hours across two weeks, and who is trying to show you their best side. I think it’s important to make sure that the people you’re trying to recruit are passionate, diligent and ambitious.
We take two placement students every year on the events management side. One of my bugbears is that it’s only ever for operations; it’s never someone that’s come in to do an event marketing degree or an event sales degree. Our venue director actually came from the placement scheme about twenty years ago. It’s good for us as a venue to work with the universities; I think the next step should be influencing course content."
Nick Dugdale-Moore, business development manager, UFI:
"It comes back to the recognition from government and big business. We don’t speak with a strong enough voice but changing perceptions at a high level takes time. We’ve done big events really well, and so it’s not necessarily that exhibitions haven’t been pulling our weight, but we’re not as well known as other forms of live events.
Recruiting is tough, whether through the agencies or LinkedIn, you can’t really tell what someone’s like from paper. We all know that within a few seconds of meeting someone you’ve formed an opinion, and everything else validates that. It does boil down to values: it’s not rocket science what we’re doing but you do need people who can build a rapport."