What sets you apart as a leader?
I have always been known as a big picture type of person. It isn’t the daily up and down that makes great companies but the ability to remain nimble to pivot from crisis mode to opportunity mode. Much of my career is rooted in being a CEO who grows companies both organically through fostering internal talent and through external acquisitions. I have acquired and integrated many companies all over the world. These experiences have allowed me to connect with people, lead and develop trust in a time of extreme disruption. Being on the acquiring side of the equation I know that the most important part of integrating a company is to be transparent about what will happen and the purpose of those changes. Frequent and transparent communication calms fears and allows people to consider the vision and rationale of the transaction. I also understand that there is significant institutional knowledge within an organization and fostering a safe environment that creates a level of trust allows great ideas and people to be seen. You put your best performers in the roles you need and then allow them to perform. Although I have the capacity to micro-manage, I usually only do that when there is an invitation to do so. It is not my typical style.
How has your background shaped your leadership style?
I grew up in Buffalo, New York from rather humble beginnings. My background fostered a deep level of appreciation and gratefulness. I derive a tremendous amount of joy out of life because I appreciate all the little things around me and never take anything for granted. I am also not afraid of hard work and I am willing to try to connect and work with just about anyone.
Prior to RX Global, what has been your favourite job?
When I graduated college, the job market was very weak. After applying for at least 100 different jobs I found a role managing BP gas stations in Georgia. This was business sink or swim – I was responsible for all aspects of the stations from gas deliveries to hiring, firing, shifts, and complaints. I was forced to understand people in a variety of different situations and with vastly different backgrounds. I made so many mistakes during those years, but the time allowed me to hone my management style to be very flat, transparent and approachable.
How does that shape your role at RX Global?
I have embraced my role as chief executive of RX Global during the single biggest disruption we have known in our lifetimes and this means I’ve had the opportunity to get comfortable with new colleagues, take risks and look at where the events business is going and how we can be ahead of the curve. I don’t believe in standing still to fight a battle but in finding ways to improve during disruption to advance our company’s mission.
I have been touched and impressed by the generosity of our employee base. Our global teams have accomplished innovative ways to remain connected to customers and amazing things for their communities. Throughout the world as we see the toll this virus is taking on the communities in which we live and work, I am honored and so proud to have everyone at Reed Exhibition as co-workers and to be a part of this wonderful culture.
How do you see the future of exhibitions?
We have tremendous room to run and innovate with the use of technology, mobile applications and connectivity. I’m looking forward to bringing increasingly sophisticated data-led analytics and technology to more customers around the world. Exhibitions is an exciting, entrepreneurial industry, and the fundamentals of the business are excellent. Combining the best of face-to-face connections with technology and rich data analytics will provide new value to our more than seven million exhibitors and visitors.