Describe some of the memorable events you have helped organise.

The Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) is one of the events that has gone through tremendous transformation in terms of its format, venue, content and scale over the past 15 years. Back in 2000, ATF was the first event in Singapore to utilise an unconventional hotel format at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort where the rooms were emptied of their beds and furnishings and transformed into meeting suites for exhibitors. Such a format provided studios and production companies a level playing field. The venue also allowed for a mix of business and pleasure, which was perfect for the entertainment content market. We’re delighted to have facilitated businesses between companies from Asia and the West. For example, the Asian Food Channel started out at ATF and today, it is part of the bigger Scripps Networks Interactive.

With changing customer needs over time, ATF has been held in different venues, including Shangri-La Hotel Singapore in Orchard, Suntec Convention Centre, and Marina Bay Sands® ballroom, which has suites and allows for an open exhibition concept all on one floor. Today, ATF is the leading media and entertainment content market in the region.

What have been some of the big challenges you have faced during your career and how have you overcome them?

When I re-joined Reed Exhibitions in 2007 as its General Manager, it was a time of great change. We had to restructure, innovate and reposition the business. It was like starting the business from scratch again despite our long heritage in Singapore. For example, when the property market was hit in 2007, we focused on sustainable practices in the construction sector in our building exhibition and the event was rebranded as Build EcoXpo (BEX) Asia in 2008.

Meanwhile, our Asia Pacific Maritime exhibition was repositioned to differentiate itself against other players. Through our efforts, the number of national pavilions at the exhibition grew rapidly from four to 18, and the scale of the event has grown four times since we started. We also ventured into the pop culture sector due to the need to diversify the business. Today, our Singapore Toy, Game and Comic Convention is a pivotal event on the local pop culture calendar.

What do you think is your recipe for success?

The ability to grow a pool of talent who are innovative, passionate about winning and who possess a strong focus on the customer is our key ingredient for success. Another factor is our strong collaboration with external partners and stakeholders such as the Singapore Tourism Board, Info-Communications Media Development Authority and the Building and Construction Authority. We have also successfully leveraged our global network to grow and contribute to the industry.

How can Singapore maintain its leading position in the MICE industry?

The competition is strong in the MICE industry within the region, while the cost of doing business in other countries is relatively low. It’s vital for Singapore to continue to strengthen its position as the gateway into the region for international companies. This can be achieved through inter-government agency collaboration, be it for destination marketing or fostering greater economic ties with other countries.

Collaboration between event organisers to offer more unique events and content to attract greater participation from the region and beyond is another way to maintain Singapore’s leading position. Lastly, we need to position the MICE industry as one with great potential in order to attract fresh blood that can support its growth.