“Pinakie Kansabanik, Dean, ACTERM talks to TFT about the biggest exhibition venue in the country in Greater Noida through which came to existence the Academy of Convention, Trade Fair, Event Research and Management.”

MQS : India as a country needs a lot of training and education program along with training and educational institutes, looking at the expanding exhibition industry in the country. In the last one decade the country has grown to about two folds, at the same time the skilled manpower, the specialized training program for trade fair and conventions are completely missing, there has been no institution or no government academies which can impart training for the trade fair, exhibitions and conventions. That was the need of the hour and none other than Mr. Rakesh Kumar along with Mr. Sunil Sethi and the entire team of India Expo Mart which has created the biggest exhibition venue in the country in Greater Noida thought of it and thus came in existence – ACTERM. We are fortunate to have with us today Mr. Pinakie Kansabanik – Dean of this Academic Institution and we invite him to throw some light on this institute and going forward the plans and actions for the same.

TFT :What’s your take on going forward with such kind of an Institute? What do you think are the right kind of courses that can offer to the aspirants of the trade fair and exhibition industry and how things are moving forward?

PK : I have been a part of this industry for 10 years now at a national level. I used to do exhibitions earlier in West Bengal – which were smaller in size. But for the last 10 years one thing I noticed is, especially when we come to seminars as such, there’s always a discussion that we need trained manpower. Something that was always in mind, we needed trained manpower which was fine but who was going to train them? thSo we needed someone from the industry to come forward to train them and that’s exactly where this institute comes up by India Expo Mart’s management and Chairman – Mr. Rakesh Kumar,who thought okay let us do this! We have the infrastructure and we have the best shows out there. So we have the best people to impart that knowledge and we have an expertise – the know-how which is most important. So, that is how this institute shaped up. As far as the courses are concerned, what we try to keep is, we have a mix of everything; meaning, we have sales, operations, advertising and PR. Everything that a person (trade fair manager) needs to know about. No matter if tomorrow you only do sales or only go and do operations, you should have knowledge of everything. What we found missing in the existing event management institutes or in some other professional institutes was that everyone’s focus was on operations, nobody focused or taught on sales. That’s where we came into focus and have understanding of sales. PR and advertising, if we don’t know – if you don’t get revenue then what is the operation team going to do? So that is how the courses are designed. The first course that we have is the diploma and pg. diploma which is of one year and it’s a part time course so the focus is – whatever you’re doing, whether pursuing your BBA or MBA or whatsoever you carry on with it for our classes will be in the evening somewhere around 5-7 o’ clock, thrice a week so that you have enough time! All you have to do is just come and we give you brief in the classroom, so we’ve 50% classroom teaching and 50% on the ground. On-hand training will be on the floors of Expo Mart. The floors of Expo Mart means you get the best international shows on which you’ll be working. So, our motive is, after a year when you pass out at least those students speak the same language that the industry speaks in and have the same understanding. When the seniors talk to them they understand what’s going on. The normal trend that we see right now like we take in a fresher, pay them the salary and in the process we train them. If after a year the person finds compatibility issues with the industry and leaves, so the money goes, time goes and so does the energy, everything goes and again you have to start fresh. So we will be eradicating that. Hence, a boy who is coming out from our training after a year knows that he has to go if he’s interested to join elsewhere and when he joins he at least gets into the senior executive and assistant manager level where he knows how the industry, how the floor or how the system works. So right now this is something we’ve planned on.For the future, definitely, we have a lot of plans but let us start with this as we have just launched ACTERM,hence once all this happens, we will definitely open more plans and doors for the future.

MQS : Well as he rightly said, it’s just started now so there could not be much of content in terms of execution plan but as Mr. Pinakie says rightly that the sales is key to success of any exhibition and training & sales is something which is really very much required in a country like India but I feel at the same time, operation is equally important because we have a huge exhibitions happening in open ground with a lot of temporary structures with a lot of temporary manpower and a lot of temporary setup which needs a lot of operational expertise to ensure for a smooth and easy operation of such exhibitions wherein training and education is very important. Having said that, there are few courses being offered by the International Organizations such as IAEE which is called as CEM program in India which is Certified Event Management programs in India and that is equally important because that means being promoted by none other than Indian Exhibition Industry Associations and hence I feel that having a local program which focusses more on the Indian Content – Indian Side of Geography will be important.

TFT : What do you think when you talk about the courses? What kind of courses are going to be offered? Are there short term courses, crash courses or diploma courses and how is the faculty going to be involved in such courses?

PK: What we are offering is a part time course, it’s a year long part time course so it’s just 6-8 hours studying in a week and full time practical which means when we have a show, 3,4 or 5 days or take for 15 days you’ll have to be on floor. So, this is what we’re offering right now. As I said, one is a diploma and there’s a post graduate diploma. Yes, we are in talks with different organizations, we have developed some talks in this event also. There will be some crash courses also for those who cannot invest a year into this, for them we’ll have short-crash courses maybe for a month or two or three, this is something on the cards as well. This is right for this year, gradually we have plans to develop it into maybe a BBA or MBA program which is not there and our entire motive of running this program is to get in fresh energy and fresh people into the industry. We want to train those who are in college, into outgoing colleges or from universities, they take up this course and get the trained people enter into this, so the fresh people should enter so that is the entire motive. Even when we already have some talks with some of the universities, UGC so those have already been done on a preliminary level but maybe we will need a year or two to develop that before we get a concrete understanding of how it may work or how we should do it. But yes, definitely, those are on the cards. We have very high dreams on this institute and the courses. As the market is stable and growing, we’ll see a lot of convention and exhibition centers coming out, small – big, the bigger ones are increasing if you see the report IEIA has presented today there are 50% of exhibitions organized by the small organizers in different parts of country so there’s a tremendous growth and trust me everyone or the majority is untrained!

MQ S : So, the small organizers play important role in exhibition industry specially pertaining to India which is a booming market for start-ups. India Expo Mart has been pioneers in creating something which is called phenomenal; Mr. Rakesh Kumar carries with him the n number of years of experience in Exhibition Industry and that is implemented in all his works. I’m sure such associations, with the kind of exhibitions they are doing and this academy will yield great results for the trade fair and exhibition sector of India. At the same time I feel that as of now the academy looks like the start of something great. The first batch is yet to start as the plans are very big in terms of creating courses such as BBA & MBA in Convention Management which will definitely be watched for the entire industry. Let’s see how it shapes ahead and we wish you all the best for such initiative because this was really needed in the country since very long and since the industry is growing, the trade fair sector is growing and there is a requirement of trained manpower in every sector of this Industry.

PK : To be honest, I already have offers from my Industry colleagues. They ask me: when is the first batch starting and when can I have some intake, we need people so when can I come to you? They have already started enquiring about what they require. We don’t think we’ll have much trouble in placing the students because everyone will love to have a trained manpower.

MQ S : Sure everyone will love to have a trained manpower and that’s the biggest challenge that the country is facing now because in the last 40 years of our existence in terms of trade fair and exhibition sector, the industry is yet to be recognized and hence there are no support from any of the government departments which could create the ecosystem surrounding the sector and of course when there’s no trained manpower you can’t expect the industry to grow at a speed of any other multinational organizations or the developed countries like Germany or China or other European countries for that matter. So, India is moving fast and India is moving in right direction. Education is the key to success in getting into exhibitions and India Expo Mart is taking the right step at the right time. Wish you all the best for this endeavour!