02 Sep “We carve our own way in life” Carol Weaving, 53, managing director of Reed Exhibitions, has a diverse working background in the business, tourism and events industry.
Over 30 years, Ms Weaving’s career has expanded through many sectors within the industry, and her knowledge and expertise spans across marketing, exhibition management, events, conferences as well as venue and facility management. After growing up in the United Kingdom and working as the marketing manager for a radio station, Ms Weaving pursued her dream of living in South Africa. She became the youngest director at 29 of the Automobile Association at the Kyalami Racetrack, which equipped her with the skills she would soon need to start her own company, International Exhibition Consultants. She later sold majority share of this company to Dutch exhibition company RAI, and then proceeded to head up RAI in South Africa. As the South African economy grew and expanded, she realised a need to team up with an empowerment partner, and proceeded to facilitate a buy out of RAI’s shares to the Thebe Tourism group in 2004, a subsidiary of South Africa’s first black empowerment company, Thebe Investment Corporation. In November 2013 Reed Exhibitions, the world’s largest and most respected exhibition company and part of the RELX Group, signed a joint venture agreement with the Thebe Tourism Group and Ms Weaving to acquire a majority share in Thebe Exhibitions & Projects Group TEPG . TEPG was renamed Thebe Reed Exhibitions, and was owned 60 per cent by Reed Exhibitions, 30 per cent by Thebe Tourism Group, with Ms Weaving retaining 10 per cent as managing director. Three years later, a desire for accelerated growth resulted in Reed buying out Thebes shares, and in 2017 Thebe Reed became Reed Exhibitions Africa. The company is still committed to transformation, and the BEE level remains unchanged. Thanks to Ms Weaving’s continued passion, hard work, dedication and management, Reed Exhibitions is one of the largest and most successful exhibition and venue management companies in Southern Africa, and is now in a position to grow its footprint across the African continent with many new ventures in the pipeline. Ms Weaving is the past chairperson of the Exhibition Association of Southern Africa EXSA and the former chairperson of the Association of African Exhibition Organisers AAXO. She also served on the International Association of Exhibitions and Events IAEE committee. In 2018, Ms Weaving was named as a board member for the African Tourism Board.
How long have you been in the sector, and what is the biggest change you’ve seen? 30 yars! It’s a fast paced, action packed industry, stressful job, and I wouldn’t change that for the world It’s so rewarding to see a concept come to life and benefit the communities in which we serve from stakeholders to sponsors to trade and consumer visitors.If they succeed, we all succeed. The biggest change is probably the digital revolution. We can harness the power of the digital age to improve our offering and to ensure we achieve a successful return on investment and return on equity for our clients.We need to improve engagement across the board and customer value is king.
Were you always involved in this sector? Yes I’m an organiser by nature and trade Its about delivering on your vision, and having passion and the courage of your own convictions.
What role does your family play in your life? Family is so important and should always be a priority, however it is possible to achieve a work life balance apparently , I’m not too good at it but getting better. Do you have any hobbies? I love extreme things, including skydiving, scuba diving, bungee jumping, and riding a motorbike. Last year I drove a Sherman Tank and shot the main gun a childhood dream, and the coolest thing ever.
What do you do for leisure? I’m a real social person so lots of dinners, games nights, travel and extreme fun take up my leisure time along with a good jigsaw puzzle now and again. Our business is also very social so from concerts to live events I’m kept very busy.
What is your secret to success? Passion, determination, refusal to fail even when other people say you won’t pull it off, and good old fashioned hard work. There is no such thing as an easy road to success.
What has been your biggest challenge in this sector? The biggest challenge is always going to be getting corporates and ad agencies to understand arid unlock the power and potential of exhibitions. We need to continue to demonstrate the value of deals concluded, contacts made and the economic impact of these deals to both the private and public sector, It’s critical that all companies participating in an exhibition choose their platform carefully. Are they an experienced organiser with a good reputation? Do they deliver the contacts, quality over quantity, and so on?
What is your pet hate? Probably the “we’ve always done it like this” mentality Its critical that we evolve, change, improve and reinvent.
What is your favourite city? Stockholm is stunning, everything works, is efficient, clean and it’s just beautiful.
How do you relax? I read, do puzzles. Sunday afternoon series binge session.
What advice do you have for anyone starting out in this industry? Work hard, learn, listen, watch, ask questions, take calculated risks, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it of course you can , and again, work hard, but work smart.
What is your dream for the future? That the good old fashioned values make a comeback, be kind to your fellow man, be honest, don’t expect everything on a silver platter and don’t have a sense of entitlement.