Chris has worked in the events industry for more than 20 years. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Event Organisers (AEO), a role he has held since 2014.
Chris’ career began in the legal team of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council. He relocated to Hertfordshire in 1993 to embark on a new role with media auditor, Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC). During his thirteen years at ABC he held a variety of roles, latterly leading on the development of their auditing products for the events sector.
In 2006 Chris moved to the Events Industry Alliance (EIA) as Project Director. Two years later he became Director of the Event Supplier & Services Association (ESSA), overseeing the merger of AEC & BECA (to form the Association for Suppliers to the Events’ sector) and the launch of the highly successful ‘Use an ESSA Member’ campaign. In 2010 Chris also became Director of ESSA’s sister association, the Association of Event Venues (AEV).
Chris holds a seat on the Governments Events Industry Board, and is Vice Chair & Treasurer of the BVEP; (a partnership of all leading associations in the events industry, representing the sector to government and regulators).
David is the founder and Director of Wise Productions (UK) Ltd.
Debs is in the unusual position of being both artist and entrepreneur. She has a passion for creating meaningful and memorable experiences for people and has founded five influential creative companies over the last fifteen years.
Recently voted the third most influential person in the UK Events Industry by Event Magazine, she is a visionary with the rare ability to both see and inspire others to see the big picture. As an Installation Artist and Event Producer, she studied Fine Art from 1993-1997 at Central St Martins and Byam Shaw, where she specialised in immersive installations. She began in the events industry by building installations, but soon realised that the whole event could be treated as an immersive installation. She first made her mark as the Producer of Lost Vagueness (2002-2006), turning it into a ACE funded, touring theatre company. Lost Vagueness was one of the first ever Live Experiential Events, the first to both articulate and deliver notions of storytelling and the dissolution of audience performer boundaries.
Highly influential, it inspired contemporary success stories such as Secret Cinema. Deborah founded Strong & Co in 2006 to enable her to produce exceptional ephemeral events for forward-thinking clients. “Strong & Co is a wonderful little company that allows me to work with select clients to create fantastic artistic visions and to develop daring new projects in-house.”
In 2008, Deborah founded Shangri-La at Glastonbury Festival. As MD and Creative Director she oversaw its development into an experiential event the size of a small town. Described as “legendary” by NME, its cutting edge creativity has inspired a host of younger producers creating events such as Boomtown. During this time she developed the Arts Council-funded Contemporary Art at Festivals tour in 2010, to order to increase the quality of Visual Art at festivals and find new audiences for the arts, impacting on Festival Arts Offers throughout the UK.
2013 saw the birth of a bold and innovative idea – Summerland, a hyper-real tropical paradise, designed to bring us all a bit of warmth in winter. Debs has now stepped down from Shangri-La in order to bring this new baby to life. She also has had 2 actual babies, now big boys, and is thoroughly enjoying it all.
Johnny Roxburgh has spent the last three decades as a ‘design gypsy’ travelling the world, planning some of the most glamorous parties and at the same time creating a unique ideas ‘library’ of the exotic, the mundane and the dazzling.
Working on thousands of projects in places as varied as the deserts of Jordan, the great palaces of Russia and the back streets of Rio, his eye for detail and his ability to view things from an inverted perspective has built him an extraordinary International and British client list.
His skill as a party planner lead him to establish himself as the ultimate ‘PARTY ARCHITECT’, helping a few clients create parties that are ravishing works of art, even more treasured as they vanish with the dawn and only remain in the collective memories of the fortunate guests who enjoy them.
Now also establishing himself as an author, decorator of houses, and distiller of gin -the future is as exciting as the past.
Madeleine is the account and project development manager for Blondefish; a company that deploys unique technology to help live marketers and event organisers to deliver and measure more compelling events.
She is a self-motivated and driven event industry professional with excellent sales & marketing expertise, broad commercial awareness, a keen eye for detail, powerful networking and people skills and an enviable address book of industry contacts.
Mark is a founder and director on the Board for FIRST with key responsibility for the EMEA market operations. “Good to great!” is his daily mantra, and it shows. From the company’s inception, Mark has had a huge part in growing FIRST to where it is today and continues to help elevate the business and its future strategy. Mark raises the bar in terms of style too– both in life and our events. Beyond his sound business advice Mark is an expert in all things wine, with an MBA in Chardonnay.
Matt originally trained at RADA and was a professional actor for several years before joining the newly-launched events crewing company Gallowglass on a freelance basis in 1996. He rose through the company to join its senior team, tasked with the successful delivery of large-scale events such as the opening and closing ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games, G8 and the MTV Music Awards. By 2005 he had taken on a client-facing role, progressing to join the Gallowglass Group Board in 2012 as Group Director, Business Development.
Today, working closely with the Group’s regional and international offices, Matt’s strategic role embraces overall development of UK and international business, and responsibility for the Group’s expansion into other industry sectors.
His professional universe now covers every type of live event, from festivals to conventions, exhibitions and public events, as well the television and theatre sectors. His brief is to foster long-term relationships, ensuring the continued growth of the Gallowglass Group.
Matt was also a Board Director of events industry body Eventia – from 2007 up to, and beyond its merger with trade association IVCA in 2014. During these years he actively drove membership growth and assisted with Eventia’s annual awards programme.
Following his election as the Member of Parliament for Enfield North in 2010, with a majority of 1,692, Nick served on the House of Commons Public Administration Committee from 2010-2011, and the Justice Committee from 2011 onwards. In 2012 he was elected by his fellow Conservative MPs as Secretary of the influential 1922 Committee of backbenchers, which regularly met with senior party figures advising them on the views of Conservative MPs. Nick established and chaired Chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the UK Events Industry which, in 2013, held an inquiry exploring the international competitiveness of the UK events industry.
Following a narrow defeat in the 2015 General Election, Nick took up the position of Chairman on the ‘BackZac2016’ campaign for Zac Goldsmith MP in the London Mayoral contest of May 2016.
Prior to his political career, Nick was Managing Director of Rapiergroup, a full service agency specialising in exhibitions and events which he founded in 1988. He left the company in May 2010 to concentrate on his political career. Today, Rapiergroup project manages and designs exhibitions and events around the world with a staff of over 60.
Philip Atkins is the founder and managing director of Off to Work, a specialist, nationwide consultancy that has been providing the finest, skilled staff to the events and hospitality industries throughout the UK and overseas since 2001. Philip continues to steer Off to Work to remain true to its guiding principle, ‘to help provide some of the best experiences and memories people have ever had’ – something he achieves by remaining committed to hiring only the people most passionate about hospitality.
Philip achieved a BA (Hons) in hospitality management before joining the Regent group of hotels, where he formed part of the opening team of the five star Regent London Hotel, now known as The Landmark Hotel. He then moved into front of house management at Madame Tussaud’s and later events management, where he found his forte.
A role as operations manager of events at The Natural History Museum in London followed, where Philip helped the unique venue carve a reputation as industry leader in its commitment to high standards and to health and safety within the event industry. He was then headhunted by First Protocol to continue in event management, dealing with clients such as BT and MasterCard, and managing all events that came through Vinopolis.
Philip is a past president of the International Special Events Society (ISES) and the founder of the Event Photography Awards, an initiative he launched in 2014 to celebrate the incredible and diverse nature of the events and hospitality industry.
He remains passionate about the development of better practices in the event industry and the promotion of the talent found within the UK to a global audience.
Richard Dodgson is the Owner and Creative Director at Timebased Events Ltd, an outstanding event design and production agency based in London.
Richard grew up in the seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare and from an early age developed an interest in the performing arts. Joining the National Youth Theatre at 15 years old he went off to London to immerse himself in the world of theatre and performance where his peers included Tom Hollander, Jessica Hynes and Daniel Craig.
During his studies Richard also discovered a passion for German theatre embracing Brecht, Büchner, Heiner Müller and contemporary German writers and directors. Studying German and Theatre at Manchester University led him to Berlin in 1988 where he then spent 18 months working as a professional actor all over Germany and following the developing art of director’s theatre in Germany.
In 1989 Richard returned to Manchester and continued to act professionally on TV and in the theatre. He also started working as a director, initially on student shows and then setting up his own theatre company Movando Theatre Productions. Movando’s aim was to create theatre events in non-theatre spaces, including the Hacienda night club, Chorlton Water Park and Upper Campfield Market as well as performing in regular arts spaces such as the Green Room. After 5 years developing these theatre projects including a year working in Hong Kong, Richard moved to London and started looking at opportunities for creating events in the corporate market.
In 1996 he founded Timebased Events with the initial aim of offering creative performance ideas and shows as the centerpiece of a corporate event. The name Timebased is a reflection of the company’s focus on ‘time’. The premise of Timebased is that the only limitation on the events that the company can produce is time. Each event has a beginning and an end. As a result time efficiency and time management are key to creative event delivery. Timebased quickly established itself as an ideas led company delivering media worth event stories. Richard also targeted high profile companies to produce smaller events and shows. This resulted in producing the first ever GQ Men of the Year Awards in 1997 for Condé Nast Publications, an event Timebased are still very proud to be producing 17 years later! It has become one of the biggest awards ceremonies in the UK, judged on media coverage.
Over the years Timebased has grown organically and gone from strength to strength creating a vast catalogue of unique and exciting events for a wide variety of brands and organisations including Selfridges, Armani, Guess, Omega, Virgin Media, Ralph Lauren, TalkTalk, Fendi, GM Europe, Westfield, Calvin Klein, Viktor & Rolf and Créme De La Mer. The company is now considered one of the top event agencies in London and Richard is renowned in the industry for his ability to create a sense of theatre, entertainment and engagement in non-theatrical spaces.
Richard has formulated a company growth strategy to help evolve the evergrowing business. By recognising key influential factors that are steering the events industry and resourcing a motivated and experienced team, he has ensured that Timebased has always been fully prepared and operational to take on new challenges. Some of the recent high profile events which Timebased designed and produced include a series of 3 consecutive events in India, the Vogue Festival 2012 – 2014, USA House 2012 on behalf of the United States Olympic Committee, the first ever Jamaica House 2012 in the middle of Olympic fervor at the O2, GQ Comedy Extravaganza, the unveiling of Figure 101 on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, the first event London Real Estate Forum and the 16th annual GQ Men of the Year Awards.
As Timbased’s portfolio continues to expand and diversify, Richard is committed to looking for new creative challenges. Consequently he is now in the process of setting up a global partner network. This will enable Timebased to increase their capacity to deliver high quality events all over the world for brands and organisations keen to engage with a global audience.
Rick, 43, runs Smyle Group, a leading creative agency that delivers live experience and moving image projects for top global brands. It has won UK Event Agency of the Year awards in 2008, 2011, 2013 & 2016.
Rick has delivered numerous key-note speeches at industry events and has been voted into Event magazine’s Event 100 club every year since its inauguration. He is also co-founder of The Global Sustainable Events Summit in 2013 – its new format came from Rick’s belief in engaging with the full spectrum of the events and live communication industries, as well as building on Smyle’s ISO 20121 certification.
With over 30 years working in the event and hospitality industry my grey hair is well earned! Over the years I have been Entertainment Manager on board the QE2, now sadly rusting in Dubai, (the ship not me!) Head of Events at Madame Tussaud’s, Commercial Manager at Newbury Racecourse and currently General Manager at Church House Westminster. Other roles in the distant past include a Butlin’s Redcoat a Pontin’s Bluecoat and a children entertainer. So now as I reach the twilight of my career I think I will settle down and get a proper job!
Born and bred in Wolverhampton, Stuart studied Business & International Marketing at Birmingham City University and was awarded a Masters in Business Administration by Lancaster University.
Stuart joined the NEC Group in 2010 initially as Marketing Services Director and then Managing Director of Commercial Marketing, a division incorporating national ticket agency, The Ticket Factory, as well as Eight Feet Tall, a media and sponsorship agency for the live events industry. He joined the Executive Board in November 2012.
During his time at the NEC Group, Stuart has managed marketing, media and sponsorship strategies for the Group’s businesses and under his leadership, his team has agreed major commercial partnerships with internationally renowned organisations such as Genting, Barclaycard and Virgin.
After study, Stuart began his career in the hotel and restaurant industry. Whilst progressing through various management roles, he became acutely aware of what great hospitality and service looks like. He then specialised in the luxury leisure sector running a number of high profile tennis and health clubs in London. Joining Blue Strawberry and Table Talk event caterers gave Stuart a great opportunity to bring all of his experience and passion together in one of London’s most recognised event catering and party planning brands.
Since joining Blue Strawberry and Table Talk as Managing Director in 2013, the brands have grown by over 35% and have seen profitability double with new and exciting developments on the horizon.
With more than 15 years experience in the London events market Toby was co-founder of the private member’s golf club City Golf Club and marketing director of The Brewery, the leading large event venue in London.
Since 2008 Toby has been working as Director of He He Events, a consultancy for corporate and B2B event clients and venues, helping clients save time and money with venues and suppliers. In 2014 Toby co-founded Eventopedia, the leading search engine and demand generation platform for the corporate meeting and event industry. As CEO he is directing the technology development and forming strategic partnerships with complimentary businesses and technologies.
Toby has worked in the exhibitions and publishing world since the late 1980’s. He worked for Emap Communications for most of the 1990s, launching and directing trade and consumer exhibitions in a wide variety of markets from education and technology through to period homes and interiors.
Toby was first involved in the hospitality market in 2003 in a JV launching ‘Taste of London’. He joined Fresh RM in March 2005 as Exhibition Director and has been running Hotelympia, Hospitality, and the Speciality and Fine Food Show amongst others for several years.
He was recently made Managing Director of the now wholly owned Montgomery business called Fresh Montgomery. Fresh Montgomery have recently launched their IFE event into South Africa and have several other new JV and franchised events.