BIG INTERVIEW16 . www.conference-news.co.uk . March 2012 ou joined the ICC Birmingham from tour operator Page & Moy Travel. What was the attraction in coming to the NEC fl agship venue?The vision of the NEC Group was a key infl uence. I like where the organisation is going and think there are really exciting opportunities ahead. The meetings and events industry is, however, facing some tough challenges. I have ambitious goals and believe I can drive the business forward despite the climate, and help it overcome the misconceptions people in the industry have about it. How did your previous roles equip you for the challenges at the ICC?There are two major skills that I have - the ability to be intuitively sensitive to the customer and the wherewithal to facilitate their needs.At Page & Moy one of my roles was making sure the customer enjoyed a seamless experience, no matter what was going on behind the scenes. I have personally had to lift the suitcases of 200 customers through an X-ray machine to make sure the fl ight was not delayed. We also had to turn around a cruise in the wilds of Greenland, with no infrastructure other then a converted refrigerator lorry and a 1950s school bus to transport customers. I have been in a number of challenging situations that if handled wrongly could be detrimental to the customer experience. I believe the same ethos applies to the ICC. We have to be able to understand the diffi culties facing event organisers, so that we can help them deliver a seamless experience for their delegates.It is my job to galvanise our people to deliver a world class service irrespective of circumstance.YHow did your own pre-conception of the ICC check out with reality after you'd got your feet behind the desk?I didn't really have any pre-conceptions, I'd never really been to a dedicated conference centre before. Now that I have been here for a little while, I am probably most surprised by what I would describe as an ICC legacy mindset that is very apparent in some of our people. Our staff are tremendously proud of what has been achieved here, which is something I admire, but there is perhaps a bit too much focus on the past.We are starting a lot of work around our people and 'Team ICC', and I can already see a real 'can-do' attitude emerging.Birmingham is the events destination capital in the UK, mainly because of where it is, in the heart of the nation. It has the UK's largest interchange rail station and national motorway network and there are 28,600 beds available for visitors in the city centre and surrounding area.Can you outline your role and the new perspectives you are bringing to the ICC? My main focus is delivering better commercial returns and looking into Power to the peopleSix months into the role of General Manager, ICC Birmingham, Paul Rutherford, talks to Paul Colston about his goals and other parallel linesI don't do poor performance. If you don't deal with poor performance issues, you then become the problemperformance. I don't do poor performance and strongly believe if you don't deal with poor performance issues, you then become the problem.One of my biggest problems is I have too many ideas! Coming from a different industry, I am looking at everything with a fresh pair of eyes. There are a lot of processes that could be changed to make us more effi cient. We bring professional people together into a positive live environment. That is a really amazing thing and some brilliant ideas have started here.We will be launching a new staff uniform and new digital display boards, as part of a wider strategy to fresh the image of the ICC. A key focus is to change and challenge some preconceived opinions of the ICC. The easiest way to do that is to get people to see for themselves. But before we can do that I want to get our services and general housekeeping really humming.Is there investment to realise the plans you have? After all, Excel London's ICC needed Emirati money to deliver a world class convention centre for London?I think if the idea is good enough and you can prove profi table returns, attracting external investors is not a problem. My focus is on realigning the people aspect of our business to consistently deliver a world class service. Once we have got this right we can reach out if we feel we need to.Can we expect any radical changes to the staff culture? We have some very talented people working for the ICC who need to be empowered and given the opportunity to showcase their expertise.
BIG INTERVIEWMarch 2012 . www.conference-news.co.uk . 17 PAUL RUTHERFORDBorn : Durham, brought up near LiverpoolFirst job: Merchant seaman at 18Education: Aylesbury Grammar School - BuckinghamshireUniversity: Bournemouth Work fi leJuly 2008 - Sept 2011: Page&Moy Travel Group, Commercial Director; previously, 1998-2006, Page & Moy Head of Aviation and Group HeadSeptember 1995 - June 1998: Quest Worldwide, Operations Manager July 1987 - September 1995: Qantas Airways, Marketing Communications Manager