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Meet the new managing director of MA Exhibitions

by Nicola Macdonald

EN meets Matt Govett, the new managing director of MA Exhibitions, who talks Sticky Wicket frustrations, refuelling in Soho and championing the industry.

What is the biggest topic that needs addressing in the industry?

What will it take for MAX to win Sticky Wicket after two finals in the last two years, I blame the previous MD…

What are the three things you would change in the industry?

Better awareness of environmental issues – there is so much wastage at events and with increasing public awareness about pollution and recycling, we must do more. More championing of the industry across the spectrum to help the newer organisers get up and running in the right way. Thirdly, more networking bars at events.

Which speaker has most impressed you at an exhibition and why?

I was lucky enough to hear former children’s laureate Michael Rosen at the Nursery World Show in 2016. His keynote was wildly inspiring, he had the audience enthralled and was inspiring from start to finish – plus he’s one of my children’s favourite writers.

Which member of the industry is least likely to get a round in first?

Ed Tranter, because he’s unemployed.

Where is the best place for a nightcap and what would it be?

Refuel at Soho Hotel, caipirinhas every time.

What’s the worst idea you have seen at an exhibition?

Us, years ago, thinking we’d get away with Velcro to attach boards to the outer walls of a venue above the entrance, which unsurprisingly then blew off in the wind onto people below.

Most prized possession?

Ed’s old office.

What one thing do you do better than anyone else?

Attention to detail every step of the way.

Biggest weakness?

Trying to do everything myself, although with the brilliant team I work with, that’s not so much of a problem anymore.

Biggest achievement/proudest moment (in and outside the industry)?

In the industry, without question, it was launching our first Nursery World Show in 2015 with no exhibition team and before the existence of MAX. We had a very small team of brilliant, very enthusiastic but inexperienced people, mainly from publishing and conferences background. While we made mistakes along the way, the show was welcomed back to great praise by the sector and we haven’t looked back since.

Outside the industry, my proudest moment will always be my two children being born.

Team you support and why?

Woking FC – it’s where I grew up and where I first went on weekends to watch football as a child with my father. Still can’t shake off the loyalty.

What do you do to let off steam?

Get out of London for a day, away from all the noise and the racing around, to the countryside off the beaten track.

What’s the best putdown you’ve heard in the industry?

Ed who? Heard with increasing frequency.

Worst item of clothing you own?

There are many, but the current worst addition is the fluoro pink headband I wore to the MAX Xmas party.

Describe the events industry.

Creative, exciting, hard work, a lot of fun and with the rate at which it changes and develops, a land of opportunity.

Favourite place to go at the weekend?

To Soho, start early, finish late.

Worst job you’ve had?

Washing dirty plates for long shifts in the kitchen in a pub in Leicester Square during university days.

Who is your hero/inspiration?

I want to say my predecessor, but I’ll never hear the end of it.

What’s your favourite country to visit?

Brazil, every time, never fails to amaze me from Rio to the tropics in the Northeast.

This article originally appeared in the January edition of Exhibition News.

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