ES – Please tell us when & how did you begin your career in the exhibition industry?
Gaurav – In the year 1999, I was just 19 when I stepped into the family business of advertising specialties which was more than a decade old & the recently added publication wing which was two years old. I was still pursuing my studies but took up this responsibility as I found my calling here. I was very passionate about the business and had my own vision on how I see this grow & where I wish to take it from the current position. We published an advertising handbook then called MEDIA 2000, which was a resource guide with listings & advertisements of professionals & companies from over 200 categories. It was a complete source book & was a challenging task. In 2002 we launched a trade magazine on Exhibitions, Signage & Point of Purchase. This strengthened our roots further in this industry & we realized a need for a face-to –face networking platform for this specific industry vertical. With no knowledge of exhibitions or events, we researched, conceptualized & executed our first exhibition in 2003 called MEDIAEXPO. This was followed by a couple of new launches for other industries in the same year. That is when my journey into the exhibition industry began & then there was no looking back. In 2007 we went international when we launched MEDIAEXPO in Singapore, which had exhibitors from across the globe & was highly successful. This began my expedition into the international exhibition arena, which was followed by shows in Dubai, Thailand & now in Africa with our latest venture this year.
ES – It is said that life of an event manager is extremely stressful. What do you feel how true is this statement and how do you cope up with all the collective stress?
Gaurav – I would say both yes and no at the same time.At times it is very stressful and at times it is the most relaxing job.It is very funny that some of our exhibitors at times tell us that our business is the best business because we have to work for only 3 days of the show and the whole year round is relaxing. They don’t see the effort and dedication which is put the whole year round to make these 3 show-days a success. The ups & downs of this business make it strenuous, but I always tell my team also to stay calm as this is part & parcel of this business & they need to store their energy for the show. Controlling anger & temperament are very crucial as being an event manager you have to do a lot of public dealing & keep up a calm & happy face always despite of both wrong & right behavior of both exhibitors & visitors. The challenges of this job make it exciting & fascinating. The key is multi-tasking & to maintain your calm.
ES – What kind of an overall impact do your shows make to their respective industry?
Gaurav – The exhibitions organised by MEX are nothing short of excellence. Our exhibitions and conferences support entrepreneurs and businesses to penetrate new markets, expand their client base and open new avenues of business promotion, networking and discussion forums. Whatever Industries we have worked for, we have seen tremendous growth in them & numerous opportunities being created. I remember when we started the first Mediaexpo show in 2003 the Industry was mainly labour oriented and sign makers used hand-tools to make Signages. Signages made by Hand and Thermocol cut letters were displayed then in the Trade Show.We brought International Technology to our show and people could see latest Digital Printing machines & Laser Cutting machines & CNC Routers along with latest Media to be used in Signage Industry.Everyone is a witness to how the Signage Industry has changed & advanced in the last Decade. In our other shows like LEDexpo which was launched in 2009, people were not aware of what LED was. The awareness for LED technology was created by the show & even the Government machinery was astonished to see the technology at that time. After our show& conference, the Government got active realising the need of the hour & how this energy saving technology would yield huge savings for the entire country. Active policies & schemes pro LED were introduced and it changed the face of the lighting industry in India. With our other Shows like GARTEX , we saw the development of Digital Textile Printing on Fabrics & Textiles which was mainly done by Screen Printing & Traditional Rotary machines earlier. We are now seeing that the major factories & Textile mills in Surat are adopting this Technology. So with the Trade shows it is easy for the industry to see latest technology within their reach and they adopt it easily. Our other Shows have always given a boost to the industry in terms of Awareness, Growth & advancement of the industry.
ES – What does a normal working day in your life look like? How do you maintain work-life balance?
Gaurav – My normal day starts around 10 am in the morning with meeting various departments of my organization and taking a count on what’s happening in each department and the progress of each show.At times I also go out and meet the Big Players of the Industry to take a view of what’s happening in the Industry and where is the Industry heading. Getting feedback on what the industry wants & providing solutions to meet their expectations in terms of audience & all other areas as well.
My work day usually ends around 7.30pm. Besides work, I spend a lot of time with my family and make it a point that my major meals are with my them. I also ensure that I don’t miss any important events at my kids’ school as I have to travel quite often due to our international shows, so I try to make up for that by being with them, especially at important milestones of their life. For the last few years I have stopped using my Laptop at home which used to take away many hours earlier when I used to research at home. Now I try to clearly distinguish my work & personal time except during the show & set-up days when there is no free time.
ES – What does an event day in your life look like? Please take us through your course of activities during an event day?
Gaurav – Not just the Exhibition Days, even the Set up days are very crucial & important for me. The Set-up has to go right for the show to go right. I am personally present during the entire build-up to ensure the quality, standards & time-lines are met. It is a beautiful feeling to see how from ground zero , a beautiful, eye catching setup is created & it gives business opportunities to so many organisations & not just that, it provides job opportunities for so many individuals who thrive on this industry for their living. Even During the Show Days you would find me at the venue even before the halls open. My team always tell me to go back during set up and show days but I ensure that I am always there to motivate my team & also troubleshoot in case of any crisis.
ES – How do you take up the role of a leader? How do you keep your team motivated to excel in their work?
Gaurav – For a leader, the role is not to be taken or allotted. It is the position that itself dictates the dictum. As a leader, you’re forced to play multiple roles within the teams as well as the organization as a whole. Irrespective of the size of a business, the services it provides, or the growth it’s experiencing, the drive behind it comes from the quality of leadership, the organisation is moving ahead with. What I believe is that business leadership involves leading the team towards achieving accumulated goals. Demands and expectations of a business leader have never been higher. But what matters is just how a leader develops winning strategies, executes them brilliantly and develops organisational capabilities and core competencies. At MEX, leadership is built on a solid foundation consisting of a clear mission, a vision for the future, a specific strategy, and a culture conducive to success. Being the leader of a team is a huge responsibility of nurturing organisational culture, which is inclusive of team members’ values, goals, attitudes and assumptions. Each of these attributes playa role in the ability of leaders to motivate individuals and teams to achieve the organisation’s vision. I take it as my job to inspire and motivate my team members to motivate them work to the very best of their abilities. Further, I try employing a very focussed and dedicated approach for improved productivity especially when it comes to project completion.The attempt to evolve at every step and to serve the best with perfection has been our strength. We, at MEX, aim to give a stimulating experience to our employees & clients through our dynamic approach towards making the association fruitful. Professionalism and excellence at every single step is what we embrace at our organisation.
ES – What 5 tips would you like to give to budding professionals in this industry?
Gaurav – Teamwork is very important in every industry but especially important in this business, you cannot do a show alone. So build a good team & nurture it.
I would advise new entrepreneurs who are joining this industry that besides focusing on getting exhibitors to a show which brings revenue, it is equally important to focus on getting the right kind of buyers for their exhibitors, which will ensure that their exhibitors come back next year. This is the key to success in the exhibition industry.
One should always take care of Health & Safety measures during a Show be it visitors, exhibitors or the Workforce/Labour working at your site.
Use quality vendors for your show, using sub standard vendors may save costs initially but in the end are detrimental to the health & progress of your show
Understanding the nature of the business or industry for which you are organizing a show is very important to be successful. Just understanding exhibition business is not enough. You need to be like a doctor who understands the patient & provides treatment accordingly.
ES – MEX Exhibitions bagged prestigious awards at the recently held Exhibition Excellence Awards. How do you feel about it? Please comment.
Gaurav – We are delighted to have won the three awards at the recently concluded Exhibition Excellence Awards ceremony by Exhibition Showcase held in New Delhi in the presence of key stakeholders of the exhibition industry. These accolades are big complements to our excellence that we showcased through our dedication and professionalism. We are grateful to the EEA to have recognised our efforts and given us a chance to reflect proficiency, remain focused and start afresh with much more enthusiasm. Thank you for the honour. We will strive for many more in time to come to add to our milestones.
The remaining part of the interview will be published in the May edition.