2013 Industry Builder Hall of Fame
Steven Levy, President, Informa Canada Inc.
Introductory Speech by John Houghton:
Tonight is all about achievement and success in our industry.
This year’s honouree has a remarkable history of success based on any measure, metric or barometer you may chose to use. A successful businessperson, recognized industry thought leader, an ardent supporter of the arts, a philanthropist with a history of helping others.
Over the next few minutes I want to tell you a bit about the individual and touch some of the successes in our industry.
Let’s start at the beginning. Montreal was home for the formative years but Toronto was where a career was pursued.
While very at home today in an ultra modern Toronto loft, our honouree derives great sense of peace spending time in the country getting close to nature, probably with family and a camera or touring around in his vintage ‘56 black Mercedes 190SL convertible.
This over achiever has two university degrees, one in psychology and one in social work and a PhD from U of T.
Got into the event business as the result of a chance encounter with a barefooted artisan, in a summer dress, named June. At the time he was doing something he is an expert at..... selling; a prerequisite to being successful in this industry.
Launched the first event in fall of 1975 – it was a disaster. That was almost 4 decades ago for those of you that are counting.
There have been significantly more successes than failures since then.
A lifelong learner- In response to the question don’t you regret continuing as an academic’ the response was; I believe my classroom is all around me and it’s less one dimension in the sense that I teach and learn from it”. Describes one of their personal characteristics as “never feeling settled, never feeling content with the status quo and always yearn for more. This made me not only anxious but sometimes overzealous and even a little pushy.” If you have ever had to negotiate with this person you will agree with this statement.
As the leader of one of the largest teams in the business he attributes some of his success to the words a Prof once gave him on the topic of leadership and management; “Manage people like people and things like things. Don’t mix them up and you will have a great run.”
Past titles include Doctor – Professor – Industry Consultant, Entrepreneur, General Manger and Vice President. Less formally I would suggest the titles Philosopher – Innovator - Creative Director – Leader – Mentor - Friend would be also be appropriate.
After cementing his career as a wildly successful entrepreneur – became a new kind of leader and joined the corporate world and now works for a global leader in events, publishing and training.
Let me finish by saying, you can’t have a conversation with this individual about this industry without leaving the conversation thinking how seriously they take the responsibility of creating successful brands. How they treat exhibitors like investors and feel an obligation to the attendees to provide an experience so good that that if you were on the other side you would want to pay to attend.
Ladies and Gentleman - This year’s honouree is.
- One of a Kind, leaving finger prints all over the city and the industry
- Know for a keen sense of Interior Design
- Has helped Construct Canada or should I say help Canada Construct a vibrant trade show industry
- Appreciates the beautiful Art Toronto ...has
- Has a wardrobe that can be described as a Festival of Canadian Fashion
- Loves Delicious ...food especially if it’s vegetarian.
- Is always looking to invest in great... Real Estate...shows
Ladies and Gentleman, please join me in honouring this year’s Industry Builder Hall of Fame winner Steven Levy, President, Informa Canada
Acceptance Speech by Steven Levy:
Dear Chair, Board of CAEM, Guests and Friends:
As an industry recluse, I truthfully never expected to receive such a beautiful honour.
It’s been 38 years since I first entered the amazing world of events, a world of highs and very few lows.
My first initiative was as co-founder of The Canadian Craft Show and Sale, now known as One of a Kind. That was1975 and I was a doctoral student looking for some extra money.
Little did I know that the first toke of show ganja would make me a life-long addict.
I have had a number of careers including community social work and as a psychodrama therapist. I also founded a market research firm, worked as a business consultant and taught at all three universities in Toronto.
But the career I have enjoyed the most is show development and management because it allows me to integrate all my experiences.
I have much to be thankful for...including from the beginning the many staff who endured my sometimes erratic behavior but who were and are very loyal.
Over the years I learned two key principles from them and from the different careers I have:
The first is that the management of people differs from the management of things.
And the second is that success comes when we emphasize the collective intelligence and creativity of the group.
I am also thankful to be part of one of the most important industries in Canada
Sincerely, I do appreciate the respect many of you have shown me over the years and especially tonight.
If I must posit a small regret it is that I sometimes wonder why I was so self-reflective, so less global in my thinking than colleagues in other countries.
Many of our major brands, like The One of a Kind Show, can and should have been exported to other countries.
Canada is a nation of people coming from hundreds of lands and with many different cultures.
This has to be translated into our events so the future will see a bigger us on the international show stage.
And, governments have to embrace our sector and become stronger partners by seeing our sector as a fundamental economic driver.
They might want to look at other countries where trade shows have raked in international attention, tourism and increased economic well being.
For example, we all know of large events in Milan, Hong Kong, Dubai, Paris, Basel, Munich, Frankfurt and so many others outside Canada.
I don’t have to quote the positive economic impact resulting from our collective events, the many jobs and the multiplier impact. Unlike casinos, our industry hasn’t negative attributes. And there are perhaps more people working in our industry than in gambling!
There have been many cost-benefit and impact studies of our business and I believe CAEM has led, in driving this information home.
Ours is a pipeline or carrier business. Through us flows every type of industry from large multinationals to our cottage industry. We are the best coordinating mechanism that brings together buyers and sellers in a structured forum, a proven means to an end. There isn’t a sector we don’t touch. We are an essential service industry, whether as trade shows or consumer shows.
For this reason, I am proud to accept this award but I do so on behalf of all of you here this evening, whether you are an industry event supplier, facility or media. Collectively we are a force that can move us forward and I am happy to join any like-minded group in making Canada better.
I also accept this award on behalf of all my staff at Informa Canada, a team of smart, bright, and creative people who have made our events iconic. As a group they make me look good and because of that I am here today.
I thank my wife Michelle for being a daily support and excellent sounding board and my daughter Shauna who has been with me on this journey since she was a wee girl handing out craft show flyers 35 years ago.
Thank you again and let’s enjoy this evening together.