Interviews

From music to event management

He is Portuguese, but has lived in the United Kingdom for many years. We went to meet Miguel Neves, from IMEX and to get to know him better.  

How does a musician become an event manager? Can you tell us what made you change your life and pursue a new career?

I see many similarities between running events and playing a concert or producing an album. Once I got a glimpse of what the meetings industry was, I found that it gave me the same energy as being on stage or working in the studio. The music industry in Portugal is also quite small with limited international appeal, so the international meetings industry presented a much bigger opportunity career wise. I still love music and I always will but I much prefer to have a career in the meetings industry, it’s a very exciting industry to be a part of.

You started your own company, what made you take a step back and work for other companies?

Opening and closing my own company within the space of nine months was an incredible learning experience. It was very difficult at the time, but today I can clearly see that I opened up a events agency with a basic knowledge of events management only. I could organise events but I had no idea of how to attract clients or grow the business. This was the reason I chose to go back into education and take a masters’ degree in Conference and Events Management. I took the degree part-time for two year and while doing so I made sure that I gained knowledge of all other aspects of the industry. I also went on a mission to build a large network of professional contacts. My network is very valuable and it has played a massive role my career development

You are now working at IMEX. How do you describe your work and does it fulfill your expectations?

I feel really fortunate to be working for such a respected company as IMEX. Before joining I participated in three editions of IMEX in Frankfurt, so I experienced the trade show and I got a glimpse of the company behind it. Just like many others in the industry I was impressed and when I had the chance to take a job at IMEX I knew that this was something I would enjoy. My role at IMEX is very interesting as I deal with education at the trade show and also the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forums, the student focused events that take place all around the world, held in conjunction with key industry events. I also manage all of the IMEX Group’s social media presence, a new task for me but one that is always challenging me and keeps me my toes. I find all aspects of my role very interesting and if there were more hours in the day I would surely take one even more roles. In short, yes this role fulfils my expectations and at times goes far beyond my expectations.

You have a special interest in social media. In your opinion, how is social media shaping the meetings industry?

In an industry that is all about people and personal experiences, social media is simply a new form of technology that is designed to do the equivalent of meetings and events in the digital realm. I am a strong believer in social media enhancing the live event experience and not replacing face to face

experiences. Social media is keeping people in touch, no matter where they are in the world, in very friendly manner. Social media also gives the individual user, whether an event organiser or participant, a platform to share their story and experiences using text, photos or videos. It really is a marriage made in heaven and as technology becomes more invisible and easily accessible to all, I can see that social media will become more and more an integral part of the meetings industry.

You work for a company specialised in exhibitions. How do you see the future of exhibitions? How can they be more efficient in a world dominated by technology?

Just as I feel that social media will increasingly play a part in all events, this also applies to exhibitions. At the core of exhibitions is face to face interaction and the desire to do business

in a human way, by creating and maintaining trust based relationships. I don’t believe that any online communication can replace this, but instead it can streamline the exhibition experience

and make it more efficient and complete. I foresee exhibitions using more and more technology, especially mobile and social technology, to add more value to all participants. Exhibitors can maximise their spending and amplify their marketing messages and buyers or visitors can make their time at trade shows more efficient and share their experience with their network instantly.

All stakeholders can definitely benefit from a better use of technology at trade shows.

As a Portuguese citizen working abroad what kind of characteristics do you have professionally that are very much Portuguese?

I believe that all Portuguese people have qualities that can very helpful for a career in the meetings industry. I think Portuguese people have an international view of the world, a welcoming demeanor and are hospitable by nature. We are also very adaptable to our surrounding environment and we are willing to dedicate ourselves to a cause or a career without reservations. Our history of the discoveries shows this and this is something we are very proud of. Perhaps one of the best things about being Portuguese is the way that we don’t panic very easily when faced with a problem and can quickly focus on finding a solution. This quality is very important in managing events, when we are under pressure and have time restrictions all team members must be willing to do what it takes to get a job done. I think this comes naturally to Portuguese people and this is something that has been very useful to me throughout my career.

How do you see the Portuguese meetings industry nowadays?

I see the Portuguese meetings industry as a rapidly maturing industry with a variety of established companies and a growing, dedicated and ambitions work force. Most of the industry focuses on incoming business and there is a large crossover with the leisure tourism industry. In the near future and as the economy recovers, I expect that we will see a significant growth in the internal and outgoing markets. As the global industry also matures, I would like to see Portugal in the forefront of understanding the knowledge transfer that can be facilitated by the meetings industry. This will also lead to a strong understanding of the motivating factors for the creation of new meetings and events. The Portuguese industry already has and is constantly developing the facilities, resources and know how to host events. The next step for the Portuguese industry is to go beyond hosting events and towards being a pro-active supporter of the core issues and topics behind each event.

Flash questions

Favourite city in Portugal?

There so many, but it has to be Lisbon as it always manages to surprise me.

Best place in Portugal to go on holiday?

Lagos and the surrounding area.

Best place to have an event?

Porto. A fantastic city in a small geographical area with great professionals and a superb service level. Event location = Alfândega do Porto.

Favourite Portuguese food?

Arroz de Marisco. (There are so many though…)

Favourite wine?

A hearty red wine from the Alentejo region. Esporão Reserva would do just fine.

Football Club?

Benfica (but I support all Portuguese clubs in any UEFA competition and the Portuguese national team above all).

What do you miss the most from Portugal?

My family.

Tags: Personality, Event Planner

07-01-2015