Thomas Humphris, human resources director at Informa Markets, shares his views on recruitment challenges and how the events industry must market itself better to attract the next generation of talent. Informa Markets currently has 3,800 employees around the world.
What is the biggest recruitment challenge facing the industry now?
The post-pandemic world is a different one. We have learned the value of face-to-face more than ever before, and we have also learned the value of digital solutions that help us stay productive and add efficiency, wherever we are. Similarly, we have become accustomed to personalisation and customisation more than ever before, which requires a data-driven approach. Our customers have learned the same, and that has required a shift in thinking and strategy that is reflected in the talent we are seeking.
Marketing functions, in particular, have really changed in our evolving world and talent with data expertise in very high demand. Traditionally we have attracted exhibition industry talent, but we are now more diverse in our approach, and looking across multiple industries to ensure we have the right skillsets on our team.
Could you share any initiatives you have implemented to help recruitment?
We have implemented a referral scheme where colleagues are monetarily incentivised for any hires that are made on their referral. We believe great talent knows great talent, and it’s a way that we can thank colleagues for reaching out to their networks to help us find the right candidate for an open role.
We are also widening our net significantly. Being more diverse in our recruitment is one of our most important commitments, and we are actively looking at universities and networks that we haven’t traditionally so we can build a more diverse team. We are also searching for talent outside of our traditional office locations, and being more geographically diverse in our hiring.
What benefits are job seekers asking you for now and how do you think this may change over the next 12-18 months?
There is a lot more focus on opportunities for training and continued professional development than ever before. Job seekers want to find a home where they can continue to learn and grow. People are also looking for a company with a sense of responsibility and values—commitment to inclusion, sustainability, and giving back. Flexibility is important, too.
There is a sense that growth and purpose are weighing more highly on candidates’ criteria list than they were in the past, and I think those are themes that will remain on-trend over the next year.
What would you say to someone thinking of coming into the industry?
This is an industry of incredibly passionate people. Everyone truly loves what they do, and teamwork and connection is at the very heart of our purpose. There is a real tangible sense of achievement in running an exhibition, with thousands of people coming together over a few days. I think the industry in general has a great culture—it’s a people business, and it’s a very fun, fast-paced environment. We all work very hard and are very motivated, but we always have a bit of fun, too.
What do you think the industry can do to attract the next generation of talent?
I think it’s as simple as marketing ourselves better. There’s a perception that exhibitions are sort of an old-school model, but we do so much more than that, and even the model itself is growing and evolving. We, and many of our industry peers, have so many role disciplines across the business—ranging from exhibition sales to digital product development to insights-led lead generation. It’s also an industry that connects so many different communities. If you have a passion for fashion, are intrigued by nutrition, or motivated to get into healthcare, there is such a diverse variety of roles in each of those sectors. It also provides opportunity to try new roles, new industries, and even new locations.
We are a global business who work collaboratively, there is opportunity to travel and be exposed to diverse perspectives. I think we need to lean into the benefit we provide even more, and use new ways of showing prospective colleagues the vibrancy, excitement and opportunity in what we do, through social media, video content, and more. This is a great industry to work in, with boundless opportunity.