"In the Know" with Sallie Coventry, Portfolio Director, IBTM Events

If you missed the SITE Young Leaders "In the Know" Facebook interview this week with Sallie Coventry, Portfolio Director, IBTM Events, you can read it here.  The interview was facilitated by SITE Young Leader Committee Member, Michael Dalton, Director of Sales, Moloney & Kelly Travel, Dublin, Ireland.

Sallie Coventry - ibtm events.jpgSallie heads up the Richmond, U.K.-based IBTM global events portfolio for Reed Exhibitions. She is guiding the group of shows through a significant transition period of name and format changes -- an evolution that, if successful, could prove an industry model for tailoring the scope of a trade show to the market it serves. Coventry oversees the former European Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition, now ibtm world, as well as IBTM shows in Africa, America, Arabia, China and India, among other others.

Join top incentive travel professionals including SITE members, ibtm world delegates and guests ibtm events logo.jpgand key industry decision makers for SITE Incentive Seminar Spain on 16 November, an afternoon of education and networking before ibtm world begins!  Also, check out the SITE Activities and Education during ibtm world and visit us at Stand M92.

Michael:  IBTM events has gone through a major restructure in the style of its events with a simpler show floor, and a 100% focus on one to one meetings. What led to this big change?

Sallie: The big change has been our rebrand across the portfolio last year, which has hopefully made what we offer and where we operate easier to understand for our customers. As you mention, we’ve also changed the format for our US and Middle East shows, which is designed to create exclusivity, intimacy and really focus on experiences, which after all is what our industry is all about!

Michael: What attracted you to the world of incentives and meetings? How did your career path start out?

Sallie: I had no idea this industry existed, but when I found it, it was love at first SITE!!! I studied modern languages at university and worked for a local events company during my summer holidays. From then on, I never looked back. I’m constantly curious and delivering events indulges that desire to learn new things and meet new people, whilst there is always something new to tackle.

Michael: What's the biggest challenge you faced as a young professional in the industry?

Sallie: Well, there’s been some great event challenges along the way – ash clouds, speakers missing in action etc. I’m sure we’ve all got similar stories to share, but looking back I think it’s about believing in yourself and having confidence, particularly as a young woman. I’ve been involved in a mentoring programme in the UK, targeting women, and the number of times that a lack of confidence has come up as a block to future growth is staggering, and quite frankly, saddening. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never been held back, and have never hit the glass ceiling. I’ve agonized about whether or not to go for an opportunity, if I was good enough, what would happen if I failed…..and I can’t say that any of that worrying was worth it. In the end, I just I wish I’d done it! Feedback is really important - don't wait to be told you've done a great job (or not) - constantly ask for feedback from your boss and other colleagues, and then demonstrate how you've learnt from this

Michael: How do you find the perfect balance between work and personal life?

Sallie: Sadly, there is no easy answer, especially with a global team.  I’m sure if you asked my husband he’d say that I’m not so great at it! I think it helps when you’re passionate about what you do, so that work doesn’t feel so much like work. That said it’s important to make time to recharge your batteries and to find that specific thing, which supercharges you. I’ve only recently learned that for me, I need to be near some water, ideally the sea, and it’s like having an energy injection. Good thing ibtm world next week is in Barcelona, right on the beach!

Michael: Who inspires you the most right now?

Sallie: My team! They are just amazing and so passionate about what they do. It’s humbling to work with them all. My team spans China, Australia, the Middle East, North and South America, as well as the UK. I’ve learned that people are people at the end of the day, no matter where they’re from and what culture they belong to. I get out of bed with a spring in my step knowing that I’m coming to work with some of the best people in the business.

Michael: With IBTM World on next week, what can industry professionals do to gain the most out of tradeshows?

Sallie: For me, it’s all in the preparation. Attending a trade show is a big time commitment and you want to make that time count, rather than turning up and leaving everything to luck. Plan your time well – whom you want to meet with, what education you’re interested in, what events and parties you’re going to attend. But do allow some time for spontaneity and serendipity – you never know whom you might bump into (some of my best hires have been through contacts made at trade shows) and make sure you get to see the city (as long as you’re not skipping the show to do so!) Social media has really helped to know who’s there and allows you to create those spontaneous hook ups, so make sure you engage in the conversation.

I’m so proud to be part of SITE and to be supporting the development of young talent in our industry. I know Jane Schuldt referred to you all as the future of our industry and she’s quite right. Amongst you are future CEOs, COOs, business owners, and entrepreneurs. I hope to have the pleasure of looking back in 10 years’ time to say “we were there when….” Equally, I hope to have the chance to meet many of you face to face at one of our shows in the future, because, the connections we make, really do mean everything.

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