Alan can you tell us a little more about yourself and your career highlights so far?
I have been working in the events industry for 30+ years and I think that it is safe to safe that the industry has drastically changed during that time. My career started out as a cyclist, and one of my earliest memories of the signage industry comes from cycling the tracks and seeing the giant Michelin sign (see picture below). Back then, it was all about signwriting and screen-printing whereas the focus has now shifted towards digital and augmented reality.
As far as highlights go, being involved in World Cups, Olympics, and UEFA tournaments to name a few, and visiting more suppliers than I can remember across the world (some stranger than others) has left lasting memories. An experience I will never forget is that one time I met a supplier in Kiev, and they had security staff with submachine guns at the door for security, and when we went for lunch. It was unnerving to say the least.
As CSM Live’s Head of Environment, could you tell us what your role entails?
I am proud to say that my role covers everything that touches sustainability across the company, from sourcing eco-friendly materials through to finding recycling solutions and calculating our carbon footprint. We can control a lot internally when it comes to sustainability such as how we developed AKYPRINT, a 100% recyclable material to replace PVC. We also work with external suppliers, and part of my role is to ensure that we only work with suppliers that have the same values and dedication we do when it comes to the environment.
What do you think has been the effect of Covid-19 on sustainability within our industry and how do you see this evolving?
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on our industry halting all events and has in turn slowed the environmental wellbeing momentum that has recently been gained. I only see this as a temporary set-back though, as sustainability continues to be top of the agenda for brands and centre stage in the media. Consumers knowledge of the environment continues to expand as well as their focus on being good to the planet thanks to David Attenborough and his superb documentaries. Brands will therefore be more and more accountable to show the steps they are taking to minimise their impact on the environment. Consumers become more selective with the brands they associate with as they in turn are concerned about their footprint on the planet.
What would be your top tips for entering our industry?
Listen and use your passion for your speciality to grow! This industry is continuously evolving so don’t think that you know all the tricks because the second you do something new will come to the market, and that is what makes this industry exciting.
As our resident pro cycler what skills are needed that you see as transferable to your role?
Cycling has taught me persistence and to never give up. These are two fundamental skills I tap into daily. Implementing changes within the production chain to better the environment is a long and slow process. It may not feel like it, but even the smallest improvement is an improvement that will have a positive impact on the environment and on our business.
One last note on the environment if I may. Littering is a major issue and society seriously needs to address the matter of plastics in the sea. Everyone needs to remember that no plastic bottle ever “took their wrapper off and went for a swim”. We caused this and it is our responsibility to fix it!