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HEAD TO HEADAttrActing fresh tAlentEvery organiser has unique business challenges depending on the sectors they serve, but all agree getting the right people is a key hurdle. EN asks: How do we entice more talent into our industry?Jane MusgroveHR and administRation diRectoR,media 10At Media 10, we have a portfolio of well-branded products and we believe this is why we are regularly approached by individuals interested in working on our events and why we do not struggle to recruit talented people.Media 10's open door policy, working environment and creative thinking means we are always open to great ideas and when we attract good people, they thrive. Our 1,600 per cent growth in 10 years has seen many roles created and promotion from within is often explored. In addition, we look out for talented individuals with experience in different industries.We are also consistently approached by entry-level candidates wishing to get a foot in the door. Our approach is to take individuals with limited or no experience if they can show passion, determination, hard work and creativity. We contact universities and accommodate students from the UK and overseas on work experience and internship programmes, enabling the individual to gain valuable experience. In many cases, these individuals have become permanent employees or re-approached us once they have completed their education. As our directors are all on the shop floor, we know who our rising stars and future managers are. Salary packages and incentives are important to recruiting talent, but it also comes down to supporting an individual's development. Although qualifications to enhance their role is a key factor, successful events, well-known brands, good mentors, promotional opportunities and lots of new projects all help attract and maintain a high level of talented staff.The good thing is that once an individual understands how exhibitions and events work, this same thinking can be used in every industry from consumer home shows to nuclear power trade events. I wouldn't say one skill set is easier to attract than another, but with a huge sales and sponsorship team, this area of our business is constantly recruiting and can be a challenge. There's always something new to think about in our industry. These give us the tools to ensure employees are fulfilled and motivated.christopher newtondiRectoR, montgomeRyFirstly, how do we define 'talent' and what is 'our industry'? The quantity of people looking to get into 'event management' is enormous, but they really want to be organising high-profile activities such as Glastonbury or a celebrity party, not a trade or consumer show as we know it.So the first thing we need to do is sell our own industry and explain the benefits of exhibitions within the events sector. Here the AEO has a very definite role to play and I am glad that this issue is working its way up the association's agenda.The next step is to define what talents we need within the industry. Let's face it, organising exhibitions is not rocket science. We don't necessarily need people who have achieved the highest academic levels (hands up those at the top of our industry who didn't go to university), we need people with common sense, who are streetwise and have ambition and drive.I struggle to understand the value of a three- or four-year event management course. What is there to learn about our industry that takes this long? Six months working in the different departments of a good organiser will surely give young people a far stronger (and debt free) grounding.Montgomery is very good at offering internships to young people looking to gain experience. We don't use internships as a substitute for employing people. We try to offer an interesting and varied work experience and we always pay interns a small amount to recognise the contribution they have made.It's important to understand that to run successful shows, we need a variety of disciplines. We need talented people from the sales profession, creative people from the marketing industry and well organised operations teams. We need people who, out of these roles, will become strategists and business leaders and who will be the next generation of wealth creators for our industry.We need to lift the profile of our industry so that people with sales, marketing and people skills aspire to join us. This is where the AEO and FaceTime has an important part to play. Future employees are a key target market.richard John md of RJa (gB),WoRkfoRce development felloW, Uni of deRBy coRpoRateMany remember the heady days of double-digit growth of organisations like Blenheim; what they forget is that the economy was booming and making money was easy. It was all very entrepreneurial, often driven by slick sales people, and frequently led to exhibition companies that were financially built on sand. Now, the climate calls for professional event managers. The leading organisers and suppliers are international PLCs demanding that risk be met by caution and deal-making with professionalism. The situation isn't helped by having so many trade associations, all scrabbling to hold on to members. Many have too big a vested interest and are steered by those who fail to manage conflicts of interest. Education is part of the answer. Employers complain about the quality of event management degrees; however, universities always welcome contact from employers for placements and 'real-life' experiences. If employers aren't happy, they have only themselves to blame for not getting involved in how the next generation is trained.Of course, some students have starry-eyed fantasies about organising the next Glastonbury and the Plumbing Expo isn't what they had in mind. But as an industry, when were we last represented as a career choice in the media? We have real industry 'celebrities' and we should make more of them.Exhibition companies also have weak brands compared to other sectors. Most marketers couldn't name one organiser. I'd say the exhibition industry was far more obsessed with sales than marketing and that's why there's the need for catch up. Throwing cash at people to attract them and make them stay is shortsighted and unproductive. That's one of the reasons Derby University created the Centre for Events Professional Development; we're developing new courses - accredited and unaccredited, online and face-to-face - to meet this need. I still meet exhibition organisers who ask 'what happens if we train them, and they leave'? But what happens if you don't train them, and they stay?www.exhibitionnews.co.uk 23FOOD FOR THOUGHT