October 1, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio

There is a major shake-up of the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) following its Annual General Meeting held virtually this week.

There are new faces on the Board including a surprise new President, Nicole Walker, CEO of Arinex.

This is a sign of the times in an industry that has copped a flogging over the past 18 months. Many things have changed and will continue to change as the industry settles into a new and different groove.

In a departure from tradition, the new Board chose a newly elected “organiser” representative for the President’s position. The other office bearers are Helen Mantellato from ICC Sydney (Vice President), Paul Elliot from Harry the hirer (Treasurer) and Elissa Duke from MCEC (Secretary).

Two venue representative positions on the board remain unfilled and the Board has agreed to call for expressions of interest from venue members, closing on 10 December. This is an unusual predicament with venues usually chomping at the bit to snare a position on the EEAA Board.

For a decade now, the number of candidates presenting for election has exceeded vacancies. That a sitting member did not step up to take over from outgoing President Spiro Anemogiannis and that there are unfilled positions, is an indicator of how tough business has been for members of the EEAA.

Anemogiannis warmly welcomed Walker as the new EEAA President.

“Nicole is also determined to drive event industry association reform by continuing the discussion in bringing all the bodies under one umbrella. As the Immediate Past President, I will continue to support Nicole as the EEAA also returns to a post-COVID world.”

The Association would not disclose to micenet how many members it had lost – but clearly it has taken a significant hit like many other industry associations if the AGM outcome is anything to go by.

Anemogiannis said the EEAA had adopted some flexible strategies to help retain members including introducing staggered payment schedules.

Incoming President Walker told micenet she was absolutely delighted to take on the leadership role of the Association even though this is not what she expected going into the election process.

Members elect the Board and the Board elects the office bearers. This means Walker was asked by the elected Board to take on the Presidency and she has risen to the challenge.

“When opportunities present themselves, you grab them with both hands,” she said.

Walker is a capable, ambitious new generation leader and her election to the Board and her appointment to the Presidency represent a clear changing of the guard at the Association and an opportunity for younger leaders to step up.

She says her greatest strengths are that she is open-minded, has a younger person’s perspective on the industry and she also understands what’s happening globally in the sector.

While too early to set in concrete her views, Walker was very clear about the EEAA priorities for the immediate future.

“It’s really important that the association reconnects with the members. We’ll be focussing on advocacy and training and best practice.

“The industry has a major staffing challenge – if we do not focus our attention on quality training and staffing it will be difficult to sustain the industry as we rebuild from the pandemic impacts,” she said.

“With the Board and the EEAA team, I will ensure the value of this sector is recognised in Australasia, not only for the industries it supports but for the legacies it leaves long after.

“Spiro stated in his outgoing message about the difficulties in bringing the industry together under one umbrella however, I would like to thank Spiro and the EEAA outgoing Board for having this conversation with the Australian events industry and look forward to continuing these discussions.

“I hope to provide enthusiasm for collaboration to ensure consolidation and strength of unity and voice of the exhibition and events industry,” she said.

Others newly elected Members are Rodney Cox, Director of Delaro and Rod Peter, Managing Director of Coleman Group as supplier representatives and Kym De Britt, CEO of the Australian Dental Industry Association as the association representative.

EEAA Vice-President Mantellato thanked Anemogiannis, for his six-year service as President.

“Spiro has devoted so much of his time, effort and passion to the benefit of our industry.

“On behalf of the EEAA Board, we thank Spiro for his leadership, perseverance, pragmatism and dedication, and the legacy he is leaving for the benefit of the industry.”

The new EEAA Board of Directors:

Organiser representatives:

  •  Nicole Walker, Chief Executive Officer, Arinex
  •  David Longman, Managing Director, Diversified Communications Australia
  •  Spiro Anemogiannis, Managing Director, Informa Australia (Immediate past President)
  •  Matt Pearce, CEO, Talk2 Media and Events

Association organiser representative:

  • Kym De Britt, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Dental Industry Association

Supplier representatives:

  •  Paul Elliott, State Manager NSW, Harry the hirer
  •  Rodney Cox, Director, Delaro
  •  Libbie Ray, Director, Connected Event Group
  •  Rod Peter, Managing Director, Coleman Group

Venue representatives: (There are two vacancies)

  •  Helen Mantellato, Senior Manager, Business Development International & Exhibitions, International Convention Centre Sydney
  •  Elissa Duke, Senior Manager, Agile Project Management Office, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre