Exclusive Interview With Bhupinder Singh, CEO – Messe Muenchen India A Young, Dynamic & Visionary CEO

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ES: Can you share with us when and how you started your journey in the exhibition industry.
Bhupinder: My journey in this industry of exhibitions began about 16 years ago. I recall, accidently having an opportunity to work for an exhibition company. Back then, I was engaged in offering concept designing solutions to the exhibition organizers – this meant I made an entry into trade fair world from the production and operations route. From there on I gradually moved ahead one project at a time, one step at a time.

ES: Can you share with us how your professional journey has been? What have been turning points and major landmarks in your journey?
Bhupinder: In some way, I would see a CEO’s role largely as a sales function; whether it is selling your grand vision to your stake holders, a project plan to your team or selling new ideas to your potential partners and customers. There’s ofcourse more to a CEOs role, but this is a vital element. On the other hand, just selling isn’t enough and selling should be backed by a strong, onsite and on ground execution. We at Messe Muenchen India place immense focus on not just carving out swift and effective strategies but also on their execution and its minute details. Understanding these two aspects, I would say, have played a key role and have acted as turning point in my enriching journey.

ES: You are one of the youngest CEO’s in the country who is leading a major trade show company. What factors you feel have enabled you to reach & sustain this position.
Bhupinder: ‘People before strategy’ has been our success mantra so far! Messe Muenchen India is a ‘People’s company’ and we put our people at the core of everything we do. As a company we are proud of our team and are constantly investing in their growth and development. So, the team at MMI has acted as support system and we together have reached and sustained our position in the industry.

ES: You often remark that your team is your biggest asset. What efforts do you put in to create winning and a motivated team?
Bhupinder: Our organizational culture allows dynamic and open communication. There is constant focus on team alignment and transparency which allows frank discussions and speedy decisions. We acknowledge and celebrate even our small successes. We see the value addition that training brings and continue to invest in coaching and ongoing development programs for employees. Besides these other employee engagements in the form of off sites, cultural activities, celebrating our success together and other planned recreational activities keeps us motivated. These initiatives in many ways build a culture and positively shaped teams, this culture helps expand individual capabilities and this reflects in our results.

ES: Exhibitions is a stressful Industry to work in. How do you manage and maintain work life balance?
Bhupinder: Most sectors today, come with its share of stress and challenges. Exhibitions being an evolving industry has its challenges as well, but on the other hand it offers a lot of freedom for creativity in its application. This in my opinion keeps the job in this industry always exciting and lively. When I get time, I like reading books. I am a student of theology; the favorite part of my free time is to read scriptures. On one hand they, keep me grounded and on the other hand, one can get a lot of clarity with respect to life as well as decision making. Interestingly, a lot of management tips too!

ES: Messe München entered India in 2007. How has the growth story of Messe München India been?
Bhupinder: We began with 2 trade fairs and 7 people; it was a small and passionate team. Today with 13 projects, close to 70 people and slightly bigger office with presence across 5 states, we are really proud of this transformational journey. The year 2017 has been one of the most successful for Messe Muenchen India. We concluded the year with new best performances and remarkable growth across our network in India. Messe Muenchen India once again significantly exceeded its targets for sales and earnings, and further expanded its position as one of the most profitable trade fair companies in India. We reported a 48% growth in revenues (from FY15 to FY17) announcing a continued double-digit EBITDA growth in 2017 across the business. In terms of overall business health, we reported growth across all the trade fairs and witnessed an increase in number of exhibitors and visitors. I am also very pleased to witness a similar performance in the form of positive growth in 2018. With 2 more trade shows slated in December. We are looking forward to a positive and successful 2018.

ES: How is Messe München India performing as compared to Messe München subsidiaries across the world?
Bhupinder: All our subsidiaries are connected to the mothership and sail in the same strategic direction. Messe Muenchen is very bullish on its international business and this is underlined by the big-ticket M&A deals across the world. Messe Muenchen India is at a sweet spot and enjoys full confidence of HQ. Despite some earlier challenges, we are sailing effectively and are well aligned with our long-term strategy.

ES: What do you feel about recent surge of mergers and acquisitions in the exhibition Industry? MM India also acquired AirCargo most recently. Can you share with us what is the art and science of M & A’s and how do you shortlist appropriate shows and decide the right price?
Bhupinder: Transport logistics (TL) and Air Cargo Europe are the leading trade shows in the world. TL is successfully hosted in China and Turkey. With its years of knowledge, this alliance will mean a stronger, comprehensive force. This will also mean involvement from all our international offices to strengthen the show. The plan is to integrate our strengths, leverage the synergies, and develop this show comprehensively to offer more value to stakeholders. Eventually we look at establishing a trade show for the complete transport and logistics industry.From our HQ stand point these acquisitions mean expansion of our network into growing markets. Our focal point remains to be our customers – their priorities, expectations and their needs. We will launch new trade fairs which are good fitment to the market and acquire shows which align well with our global portfolio.

ES: What according to you are the challenges and the opportunities in the Indian Exhibition Industry?
Bhupinder: Exhibition industry already plays a powerful multiplier

 effect on the overall economy by contributing up to 10 times of their turnover to the geographical area they serve. Exhibition industry size in India is estimated to be at Rs. 4000 crores and its impact on the overall economy is estimated to be Rs. 25000 Crore. Its growing faster than the GDP at the rate of 9% for last 5 years. With more than 200 exhibition organizers, more than 800 exhibitions, more than 130K exhibitors & over 21 million visitors, it generates over 100 K additional indirect jobs every year in our country. Despite this, I do believe that we continue to face challenges like new exhibition infrastructure, venue rates and tax compulsions, complex processes and procedures, professional management, training and development at root level to name a few! Having cited these, I am pleased with the enthusiasm the industry showcases. The initiatives where government, associations like IEIAs and organizing companies are working together towards common goals is reassuring. Government support to various industries at exhibitions, participation of government projects and delegations, gives confidence to stakeholders World class trade fair venues are under rapid construction, Older ones are being aggressively renovated, and Existing ones are adding even more square meters. These moves guarantee a much needed boost to the industry. It reaffirms the importance of this live business ecosystem that we fabricate.

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