Blogger: Paul Woodward
We’re back in Paris after a memorable 82nd UFI Congress in Milan. I had a chance to say goodbye in person to a record number of you and thank you all for your support. Thanks again, of course, to our hosts from Fondazione Fiera Milano for all you did to host us so warmly in UFI’s birthplace.
I have written 55 columns like this for UFI Info. They have covered many topics, but several key themes emerge. Firstly, the exhibition industry’s health, today and in the future. When I took over as Managing Director in 2010, we were still very much in the throes of the global financial crisis and times were tough in most parts of the world. Fortunately, we have survived that and the industry is by and large robust. There are, of course, some regions which still face special challenges and there are questions today about the impact of slower growth on global trade. But, overall exhibitions have once again shown themselves to be resilient, a clear indication of the value they add to their clients.
And this relates directly to the second theme; UFI’s health. I found the organisation strong when I arrived in Paris and hope that, by focusing on adding value to all of you, our members, I leave it stronger still. Any business organisation must offer value for money but, even more importantly, we need to offer you value for your time. Everything we do remains under close scrutiny by the UFI leadership and staff to try to improve how effective we are at that.
Many of the columns have talked about engagement with our members, sometimes thanking you for it and often asking for more. I remain firmly convinced that you can get the most value for your UFI membership by being more active. Being at the centre of this amazing global network by participating in what we do is how you can be sure you will both give and get the most from it.
We proudly claim to be the global association of our exhibition industry and I have worked hard to put some real substance behind that claim, trying to expand our membership and engage leaders from all over the world. It has been a real joy of the job to visit 40 countries over the past 5.5 years for UFI events and meetings, for your events and to see our members’ businesses in action. Much visiting remains to be done by my successor, Kai Hattendorf, and I wish him well for his time at the helm of this remarkable organisation.
So, before I sail off into the sunset (I couldn’t resist at least one nautical allusion), it remains for me most important to thank you all, the UFI members for your support. UFI is your organisation and your active involvement is what makes it work. I must thank also the elected leadership with which it has been my privilege to work. Thanks to Presidents John Shaw, Manfred Wutzlhofer, Eric Everard, Arie Brienen, Chen Xianjin, Renaud Hamaide, Andrés Lopez-Valderama and Sergey Alexeev. Having the opportunity to work so closely with you has been a genuine pleasure. Our Executive Committee, Board Members and Chapter Chairs contribute a huge amount of their time to making UFI work and I thank you all for what you have done.
And last, but most certainly not least, I have to thank very single member of our UFI team in Paris, Hong Kong and Sharjah for working so hard and well for our members. It has been a delight and a real honour to work with them all. If people are in any way pleased with what I have done for UFI, it is only because of what they have all done that this is so.
I will be spending more time at sea and less in the air, but I will be around in the future with a few small projects in the industry.
So, I will leave with words of the English writer John Gay in saying “we only part to meet again”.