Talent needs…and wants

Trevor Foley offers some advice for channelling ambition.

Trevor FoleyThe majority of the talent articles I write are focused on clients or the industry at large. This one, the last of the year, looks at where ambitious industry players should be focussing their efforts for the purposes of career development. There are some common themes in terms of the strategies of industry companies that are seeing a demand for certain skillsets. Here’s a run through some of the most common ‘wants’.

Undoubtedly, the biggest focus among many growing organiser businesses is the move to creating confexes. This can be from either end of the event cycle – a conference that wishes to add an exhibition or an exhibition looking to add greater content to an event. This brings together many skillsets – research, content delivery, commercial nous, marketing knowledge and also operational expertise.

The operational understanding comes from the fact that a move from an exhibition or conference towards a confex will often require a change of venue type. A conference that may have been in a hotel, will likely need to move to a traditional exhibition hall of one size or another. This move may also create challenges among the event community, in maintaining the ethos of the event – achieving growth without disrupting the niche or even the cosiness of the event.

Many industry players do not make it clear on their CV’s whether their event portfolios are exhibitions, conferences or, indeed, confexes, nor the range of skillsets possessed in running those portfolios.

If there is a second greatest need, it is that of commerciality – a commercial event director, a commercial marketing director or a commercially focussed MD. This goes beyond sales into revenue stream diversification, P&L cash flow management, investment models and more. Again, many people will possess such skillsets, but this is often not apparent in a CV.

Next, marketing. Event marketing has become a many headed beast. Tripping beyond communications and brand management, into subscription models, data, technological solutions, managing revenue streams, and the visitor experience. Clients want to understand the expertise of industry candidates in these areas.

Lastly, it’s important to point out that many organisers and venues need to recruit on a confidential basis. I often explain that there are very few of our roles that tfconnect are able to put in the public domain. It is not just at the most senior levels, it will be from event director roles upwards.

Confidentiality requires trust and I’m pleased to say that, project after project, year after year, this trust in confidentiality is observed and well managed by both clients and candidates. From a potential candidate point of view, there can also be a range of reasons for needing the utmost confidentiality in the market. Again, in my ongoing experience, industry organisations are brilliantly observant of all necessary confidentialities.

In short, confidentiality is usually the main need on both sides of the hiring equation. So, if you are ambitious for growth in your career or looking for something different in 2024, trust in putting your head above the parapet and see what happens!