A few days ago, I could catch up with Amy Saleh, Operations Director at Hannover Fairs Australia. We were both attending the AIME show in Melbourne and chatted for half an hour about the state of the industry in Australia. Now, Amy has been a member of our 2023 Class of “Next Generation Leaders” and together with her colleagues Otero from the UK, Elizabeth from the US, Tehchad from Thailand, and Aya from Egypt, have presented their ideas for a new blueprint for exhibition operations a few months back at our Global Congress in Las Vegas.

We launched this “Next Generation Leadership Grant” programme at UFI back in 2016, and through these years, we have done seven editions of the grant (with a COVID-induced pause in 2021). During this time, 36 fast-rising talents and leaders from 22 different countries have been on their NGL journey.

Amy was our first NGL from Australia, and just like I met her again right now, I am happy to cross paths with other programme alumni regularly as they rise through the ranks in our industry. One alumni was involved in our Oman Congress, another one works with us regularly around event technology. Others are active in UFI Working Groups. Some have become quite regular speakers at industry events. And another one just started a new role as Managing Director at an HR consultancy.

Many of them reference the NGL programme as a milestone, a stepping stone, and a life-changing experience. This is humbling to hear and makes the whole UFI team proud. Talent development is a key challenge across our industry, as we know both from experience and research. The Next Generation Leadership Grant is our flagship programme here.

This year’s call for candidates is currently open. If you read this and lead a business, let me challenge you to encourage your best and brightest to apply. If you read this as an emerging leader – please put yourself forward—more details elsewhere in this UFI Info or at ufi.org/ngl. Application deadline is April 7.

But, as always, good things should come in pairs – we are also expanding another talent development programme that we piloted in 2023: the “Event Directors Summit”, a special content track designed for show directors, portfolio directors, and showrunners. We will see the inaugural APAC version of this programme alongside the Asia-Pacific Conference in Macau this month and will run this summit again alongside the European Conference in Zurich in June. Details about that at www.ufieurope.org/event-directors-summit.

Best regards,

Kai Hattendorf, UFI CEO