September 24, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio

Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) President Spiro Anemogiannis is stepping down and will pass the baton to a new President at the association’s Annual General Meeting on September 28.

Anemogiannis will renominate as a Director but said it was time to pass the baton to new office bearers.

Several other Directors are also finishing their terms, paving the way for a “new and fresh” board to lead the organisation out of the pandemic. Those Directors are the Treasurer, Bob O’Keefe, Brian Thomas, Felicity Zadro and Nigel Keen.

In his message to members ahead of the AGM, Anemogiannis restated his support for bringing the various business events associations under one umbrella but regretted this had not been achieved during his tenure.

“With the help of other board members and the initial commitment of some like-minded associations we came close. Regrettably the timing wasn’t right for a myriad of reasons, but the conversation is continuing.

“Unfortunately the failings of this ‘coming together’ was really magnified during the pandemic where at times all levels of government and health were constantly bombarded from all types of event associations, as well as some newly formed ‘splinter’ groups.

“With the EEAA operating at state level and via BECA at a national level we were able to get some cut-through speaking directly to policy makers on topics such as event insurance, reopening density limits, requests for sector support into 2022, and training.”

He said Government is gradually understanding that business events are one of the most important drivers of business and the economy, and able to drive visitation to key economic centres.

If our industry had one major industry body, say, something similar to the Australian Chamber of Commerce, along with their state equivalents, we would be a very powerful lobby group, he said.

“Maybe the Chamber of Business Events? We need to come together.”

He indicated that there is currently a different proposal for the major event associations to re-form under one new banner.

The ever-positive Anemogiannis said, “Hopefully this will succeed.”

Despite Anemogiannis not succeeding in his ambition to form a single entity to represent all parts of the events industry, it’s not for want of trying.

I know this. He was my boss for four years. As the Chief Executive of the EEAA for almost a decade, I too was, and still am, convinced that the events industry must have a single strong voice. A powerful voice. You can’t be powerful if you are not organised and equipped to compete for a share of voice in the congested advocacy arenas.

But while Anemogiannis may not have been able secure the commitment from others to forming the “united single entity” his contribution to the EEAA was enormous. During the years with him at the helm, “we” were able to deliver an outstanding range of programs, partnerships and profile including advocacy support.

He always worked for the greater good of the industry and fostered a culture of inclusion and consultation. He stayed focussed on the Board’s responsibility around strategy, governance, finance and risk. And importantly, he gave his time generously to meet his obligations to the organisation, fellow Directors and the members.

The industry, his Board peers and the EEAA members owe him a big thank you for his generous contribution of time and expertise, especially over the most challenging last 19 months.

I, certainly, was grateful to have him as my Chairman for four years.

After the elections next week, there will be a group of new faces on the EEAA Board – and they will join the mid-term Directors and staff to chart the course for the future. A future that will be strong as Australia slowly emerges from the ravages of COVID-19 and the Government policies that have stopped business for way too long.