Events Council Blog

Insight from the Hall of Leaders: Henry Givray

Aug 22, 2018

henry-givray2018 Hall of Leaders inductee Henry Givray is Chairman of the Board of SmithBucklin and created both the SmithBucklin Leadership Institute and Leadership’s Calling. We asked him about his ongoing role in shaping the events industry and how associations’ event strategies should evolve.  

What would you identify as your most enduring contribution to the events industry?

Meetings, conventions and exhibitions are core to the business of trade and professional associations. As President and CEO of SmithBucklin from 2002 to 2015, one of my top priorities was ensuring that SmithBucklin was committed to and successful in continuously developing, applying and honing innovative ideas and leading practices in the production and management of high-value, high-impact association events. After all, delivering high-quality education, creating meaningful networking opportunities, recognising and honoring achievement, and connecting customers and suppliers are crucial, tangible ways that trade and professional associations create value for the industries, professions, communities of interest and the other varied constituents they serve. Today, SmithBucklin manages more than 350 events per annum and approximately 2.225 million square feet of exhibits. 

 How do you plan to continue to make an impact on this sector?

As chairman of the SmithBucklin Board of the Directors, I continue to be involved with the company, offering advice and insights on various issues and opportunities impacting the success and vitality of associations. Also, one of my proudest and most fulfilling achievements — and one through which I continue to give back to the industry today — is the creation and facilitation of leadership learning programmes. Beginning as a solely internal initiative for SmithBucklin employees, the programming has evolved to include two offerings. The first is the SmithBucklin Leadership Institute. Launched in 2013, it is an intensive, seven-month programme that exposes a small, diverse group of volunteer board members from SmithBucklin client associations to leadership concepts, principles and guidelines. The second is Leadership’s Calling, which is a similar programme that includes both top-performing employees from SmithBucklin and individuals from outside SmithBucklin. Including the classes of 2018, 255 people have experienced my leadership programmes, and many of those individuals have in one way or another been involved in the meetings, conventions, exhibitions and travel industry. In addition, many members of the SmithBucklin Event Services team are graduates, as are a number of SmithBucklin alumni who now serve in key leadership roles in the events industry. I also speak on leadership free-of-charge and have been regularly invited to association conferences, corporate meetings and educational forums.

What can associations do to ensure that their events are unique and have measurable impact on the industries they serve?

Opportunities abound for associations to leverage current and emerging innovative, exciting and fun technologies to enhance, extend and personalise the attendee experience. However, event planners must never forget the single most impactful and uniquely valuable aspect of attending an event — building and fostering meaningful and enduring relationships among and between industry and professional peers, prospective customers and industry partners. Sometimes it means meeting people who share common interests, or connecting with an individual who can impart advice, become a mentor, provide support, solve a current problem, help seize an opportunity or offer unique insight on topics you deem important.

And on a more macro level, associations represent communities of individuals who share vested interests and a commitment to give their time, energy, dollars and heart. Properly harnessed, this powerful, collective human force offers limitless opportunities to advance ideas, take action, drive desired outcomes, create value for individual stakeholders and improve the state or condition of an industry or profession. Events offer marketplaces for ideas, forums for debate and deliberation and vehicles for carrying forth strategies and action plans. Events that create diverse environments and venues for human beings to connect face-to-face will not only ensure success and long-term vitality through growth and financial performance, they also have the opportunity to create extraordinary value for their represented industries and professions.