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Industry Experts
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3 Min Read

Meet Sarah Halley, Messe & Exhibition Industry Expert

How long have you worked in the industry?

I started with hotel management (3 years), studied Economics + MICE/Destination Marketing/Event Management (3.5 years), worked in Exhibitions for another 3 years and now in my role as Presales Consultant. I spend most of my professional career abroad in another country.

What are you most excited or passionate about? What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work?

I often consider my job as “Professional Speed-Dating with a Technical Twist” because I get booked for Software Demonstrations with new prospects or existing customers all around the world. Within minutes of a meeting I must assess their needs, current challenges, operating and business model, internal processes and guide them through a comprehensive ERP Software in a way that speaks to their language, industry and pain points they face on a daily base. Although a first-time demo is meant to introduce the system, we most often use a tailored approach on what we know to make the most of everybody’s valuable time. My goal is always for every stakeholder to walk out a demonstration with a value-added benefit.

Is there a specific project you’ve worked on in your career that you’re most proud of?

Well, to pick one isn’t easy but probably it would be an Event – a new product launch – of a Global Blue-Chip US company from the Banking Sector in Johannesburg with 350+ delegates across Africa. Still being a student intern, just landed in a foreign continent and country, still battling with grasping the language, diverse culture of South Africa and most importantly driving on the left side of the road – here I find myself in week 5 with my boss falling ill and no one in the agency able to take on this project. In the end I successfully organized the event, finding the right venue in a town I have never been to before, managing the registration, sponsors, organizing all the operations from décor, set up and technology to a successful event. From university to management meetings of the global banking towers in South Africa – I would truly call this hands-on-training. 😊

This Break-Through Moment taught me one thing – no matter what life throws at you: you can do it! Expect the unexpected and you’ll always find a way of making it work. You are never alone. If you are prepared to give it your all – there will always be somebody to have your back.

What have been the lessons you’ve learned in the events industry?

The event’s industry told me to truly understand what customer-centricity really means. To be successful you need to understand the key that unlocks your customer. To be fair and reasonable in managing expectations in a courteous and diplomatic manner. Going that extra-mile leaves a long-lasting impression and will strongly influence your personal brand and reputation.

But also, to know your boundaries. Endless nights and over hours do not make you a hero and are not benefiting your ability to service customers nor to reach your company goals. There comes a time when you must put yourself first, because only when you are at your best (performance) you’ll be able to provide great service after all.

Tell me a bit about what you like most about working for Ungerboeck?

This might sound funny but for that it is a “New World Tech Company”. I had the privilege to work in different countries and service customers from Europe (The Old Word) and The New World (US, Commonwealth, etc.). Doing business with a New World Tech Company means the spirit of entrepreneurial thinking, this “can-do-attitude” flat hierarchies and a slim bureaucracy. I literally can call our Product Managers today and share my immediate customer feedback with them. In some cases, I ‘ll find the outcome in the next patch, upgrade or release.

What are 3 words to describe Ungerboeck?

International. Agile. Collaborative.

When you think of the future of the events industry, what do you think will be the “next thing” we will all be talking about?

Well, no one can predict the future, but events will always remain a central element in our society – the formats are going to be changing. Events in general will have to become more experiential and not just have an economic/business purpose.

Exhibitions have seen massive growth over the years, but the markets are saturated, and industries are changing rapidly so exhibition organizers will have to re-shape traditional formats that have worked in the past and will need to keep content and offering relevant. More than trade platforms the innovation component will gain importance in a digital age.

What advice would you have for someone going into the events industry?

Embrace the hardship – life lessons are not learned in a comfort zone behind a desk. Most often it’s the physical, psychological engagement with crowds, short deadlines, dealing with constant change, increased workload over peak and off-peak times – once you are through this life lesson – you can conquer anything!

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

Although many people think I am quite a bubbly, outgoing character, always happy to get on a big stage or to whom small talk comes rather easy - I much rather enjoy the quiet time by myself. I gain a lot of strength by re-charging outdoors in nature, spending time with my husband and dog, cooking and spending time gardening or reading a good book.

If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

Young as the Morning Old as the Sea: https://go.ungerboeck.com/SarahsSong

Rosenberg, Mike (2016). Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea [Recorded by Passenger]. On Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea [Digital Download, CD, Vinyl]. Sydney, Australia: Linear Recording Studio