ENTHUSIASTIC PROFESSIONALISMbusiness by creating niche targeted trade events where the main focus was on understanding your market and customer. Many leading events today have built their success on this approach.During my early career I was fortunate to experience at fi rst-hand most aspects of the business. It is unusual in today's exhibition world to have the privilege of starting at ground zero and working your way up. By the time I became CEO of Reed Exhibitions I had worked across all the disciplines involved in developing, launching, marketing and delivering events. I probably had a personal hand in the managing, launching or acquiring of most of the shows in the portfolio. Of course, we have added a few more since then. How has Reed Exhibitions changed during your tenure as CEO?In the early days Reed Exhibitions' business was centred on the UK and USA. Today they account for only 5 per cent and 15 per cent of the business respectively. The geographic spread has changed beyond all recognition with a signifi cant shift from west to east and from mature to emerging markets. We started in Brazil in 2007 with just fi ve events and today we are the largest exhibition organiser in Brazil. Our China business has also witnessed incredible growth and today our teams in Greater China run 59 events.Since I became CEO in 1996 we have seen the company triple in size as we have taken advantage of some incredible opportunities to launch and acquire dynamic brands and companies, as well as to grow our existing events. We now have 460 shows in 36 countries covering 44 industries with a portfolio of strong global and national brands. Within the next couple of years we will have quadrupled in size. MIKE RUSBRIDGE IS CHIEF OF THE WORLD'S LARGEST EXHIBITION ORGANISER REED EXHIBITIONS. HE TALKS TO EW ABOUT HOW IT STAYS ON TOP DESPITE CHANGING CUSTOMER ATTITUDES AND RISING SKILLS SHORTAGE hen it comes to infl uencers on the international exhibition stage, you can't get much bigger than Reed. The company claims more than 7 million people participated in one of its 460 events in 36 countries last year. These cover everything from luxury items such as jewellery and travel to trade shows about mining, logistics, energy, agriculture and pharmaceuticals. Mike Rusbridge is the chairman and CEO of Reed Exhibitions and has a career in exhibitions spanning 30 years. As the head of Reed worldwide since 1996, he has ushered in a host of signifi cant milestones including the company's £360m (US$565) acquisition of Miller Freeman Europe, creating the biggest exhibition organiser the world has yet known. Since then, Reed has pushed its way into a series of emerging markets to shore up strong positions in China, the Middle East, South America and Russia. He shares his experiences and concerns for the future with EW.How did you start in the industry?I started in 1977 as a sales executive for Clapp and Poliak (C&P). C&P was a leading exhibition organiser in the USA at the time and is now regarded by many in the industry as the founding father of modern exhibitions. The UK arm was headed-up by Richard Copley-Smith who brought me in to launch the Design Engineering Show. How did your background prepare you for your role as head of the world's leading exhibition organiser?The fi rst two or three years with Richard were a hugely important grounding for me. They laid the foundation for everything that I went on to do at Reed Exhibitions. Richard focused on the core principles. He changed the face of the exhibition THE BIG INTERVIEWIssue 8 | 2011 www.30exhibition-world.netwww.
www.exhibitionworld.co.uk June 2011