The event and exhibition sector in Hong Kong continues to grow, adapting to changing technologies and the shifting expectations of clients. Peter Jung, executive director of Milton Exhibits, outlines recent directions the industry has taken and opportunities for people hoping to work in it.
What trends have you seen shaping the part of the events sector in which Milton Exhibits operates over the last few years?
As the world becomes increasingly digital, the nature of the event and exhibition sector has evolved. These days it encompasses conferences and seminars, the showcasing of upcoming trends, and interactive zones for visitors to try out the latest products or services, as well as the exhibition. Organisers demand creativity as well as efficiency these days. They also have greater concerns about safety and risk management.
What effects are these trends having on careers in the sector in Hong Kong?
We look for people who are innovative, who learn fast and who are sensitive to new technology as well as having a real passion for events and exhibitions. Passion has always been key in our industry. Our colleagues might need to work on weekends or public holidays. This is especially the case for events.
What are the current recruitment challenges? Has Milton Exhibits made any changes to its recruitment strategy?
Unlike most B2C brands, B2B service companies such as Milton Exhibits are unknown to many, especially graduates. We therefore believe brand-building is the way to attract the right staff. We proactively participate in career talks and job fairs organised by universities. We also accommodate students visiting our office so that they can get a taste of our work environment and culture.
What separates a great professional in your field from just a good one?
We aim not only to accomplish the jobs assigned by clients, but to give them and their visitors a great experience. So, having great enthusiasm for the industry and being adaptable to the fast-paced working environment are essential.
Can you outline the path your career took to get to your current role? Is this a typical progression?
I have been working in the industry since I graduated from City University of Hong Kong in 1988. I joined Milton Exhibits as management partner in 2005 and I have witnessed its growth from an operation with less than 10 people to one that now has 380 employees in 10 offices across Greater China, Singapore and India.
Are there any formal qualifications you would recommend marketing professionals in your industry acquire?
Studying event and exhibition management or a project management professional qualification might be a good start but the most important thing is passion.
How easy is it for professionals from other sectors to move into the events industry? What do they need to consider?
We have hired some great talents from other sectors. It is not a problem to switch professions, but before entering the event industry, they need to consider whether they enjoy communicating with people and are adaptable to pressure, working unsociable hours and being able to meet tight working schedules.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
One of the most rewarding things is the success of our executive trainee programme, which we have run since 2010. We have made a commitment to nurture future leaders for our industry. Today, over 15 per cent of our employees have come through this programme.
Is a good work-life balance possible in your line of work? Do you have any tips on how to achieve this?
Personally, I took up running seven years ago and still run. I enjoy organising dinner parties, not just for the company but also the preparation and cooking experience.
We also inaugurated a lunch and learn workshop last year, which imparts advice to staff on leisure and wellness. I really think having a healthy body is a prerequisite for everything, including work.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Showcasing success.