INTERVIEW WITH M. SALEEM KHAN TANOLI, CEO CEMS PAKISTAN (PVT) LTD.
Feb 14 - 20, 2011
PAGE: TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS AND GOALS?
SALEEM KHAN TANOLI: I would start my introduction with this thought that leaders are born and made. Similarly, I was born to make a mark in this industry and circumstances flourished me with time. I am associated with this industry for a decade and started this business with the vision to succeed but with utmost integrity and veracity, and I think I have achieved quite a lot in this short span of time but not to forget it wasn't a fun ride, it involved constant hard work, relentless practice and a lot of determination. I am always of this thought that a good leadership is always a necessary ingredient in any successful business. A leader should possess a very clear-eyed view of their marketplace and the competition. He should know what the company is good at and where it should be focusing its strengths. He must also know and understand its weaknesses being a leader that's what I always dwell in. People shape any company hence my people are very important to me, I expect a lot and encourage my people to take the values which are most important to them and show their worth. This is what you will see me communicating most of the time- "No one is born successful, we all have the opportunity-through hard work and merciless super-persistence to achieve mega-success. It's within all of us".
PAGE: WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT EXHIBITIONS AND ROAD SHOWS TO BOOST EXPORT FROM PAKISTAN?
SALEEM KHAN TANOLI: Being from an exhibition industry myself, I think it's a great idea, not only it will give an amazing opportunity to showcase products under one global platform but it will also create business opportunities, and will open doors for the international client to see the products and interact in person with other business and industry professionals. Not only this exhibitions and trade shows can be a major contribution in generating business and leads in any country but also provide incredibly valuable goals which are: On spot business opportunities, customer interaction, networking, building brand awareness, conducting market research, educating attendees, and even finding partnership opportunities. All these factors contribute greatly in creating export opportunities in any country. Therefore, Pakistan must adopt strategic approach to increase its exports in neighboring markets by hosting international country exhibitions.
PAGE: WHAT KINDS OF METHODS ARE REQUIRED FOR EFFECTIVE EXHIBITION?
SALEEM KHAN TANOLI: Exhibiting is the most cost effective way to reach the greatest number of decision makers in your specific target market in the shortest space of time and 48 per cent of exhibition leads do not require a sales call to close the deal. Therefore, to carry forward an effective exhibition there are few points which are very important:
To use PR effectively, organizers need to plan their integrated strategy well in advance. Public relations can either be the responsibility of a dedicated in-house department, or more commonly, an external consultancy specializing in either the relevant field or the exhibition industry as a whole.
As an effective method of reaching the widest possible market of prospective exhibitors and visitors, sponsorship by a leading body, key industry journal, or national paper, is paramount. The association with such a body or journal brings not only extended readership of the event, but a certain degree of caliber and enhanced credibility.
For exhibitions of an international nature, at which overseas visitors would be expected, a Press Inward Mission can be seen as vital to extend news coverage around the world prior to the event.
During the exhibition, especially those of a larger size and consumer nature, daily news releases should be issued to the national press from the press office and should have established opportunities for national or regional media coverage.
I appreciate that some exhibitions are there simply to display products on a low-key level, but I am sure the majority of organizers wish their exhibitions to grow and become 'the industry event'.
Once the doors are closed and the breakdown completed, PR should not cease. It is important to keep the journalists up-to-date with how the event went, visitor attendance and success stories. In this way you are already starting to sell the next event.
PAGE: WHAT SHOULD PAKISTAN DO TO PROMOTE ITS EXPORTS?
SALEEM KHAN TANOLI: I think there's so much we can do but first and foremost is Pakistan should explore new areas of cooperation for enhancing bilateral trade and strengthening economic relations between other countries. Like other countries, Pakistan must adopt strategic approach to increase its exports in neighboring markets and underline the need of holding single country exhibitions, trade shows, seminars, and food festivals for creating demands and opportunities for the Pakistani products in these markets. People to people contact should be enhanced and various agreements signed by Pakistan with other neighboring countries and also for other economic growth activities, Pakistan embassy should provide assistance for creating linkages and in identifying business opportunities through chambers. Furthermore, I think in enhancing exports of Pakistan, government should encourage private sector participation in trade fairs and exhibitions. High-level visits from both sides along with the business delegations should also be undertaken for exploring markets and developing business ties. Like I said earlier, embassies of Pakistan should play an active role for bringing the business communities closer and identifying the areas of cooperation. Market analysis, rules and regulations, emerging business opportunities and information about various exhibitions, conferences, and seminars should be shared with the chambers and associations across Pakistan.
PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE OUR NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES WITH PAKISTAN IN TERMS OF EXHIBITIONS?
SALEEM KHAN TANOLI: Honestly, I think there's no comparison. We have a lot of room for improvement and we're still far behind.
Like if you talk about India, thanks to its growing economy (8.5 per cent of GDP) and its demography (1,095 million inhabitants, and 300 million middle class), it is emerging as a major player on the global economic scene. India's exhibition infrastructure, in terms of venue and space availability, has been increased and modernized in no time. In a way of comparison, India today has the same exhibition capacity as the city of Chicago. However, this is quite small compared to the volume of the market (population and industries) and its economic and commercial potential. The lack of appropriate exhibition space will therefore continue to limit any rapid development of the Indian exhibition business, particularly as compared to the fast-growing exhibition markets in China and in the Middle East's Gulf Countries. Until now, India lags far behind China whose available exhibition space is eight times greater and which has three times the number of exhibitions.
PAGE: WHAT INCENTIVES SHOULD THE GOVERNMENT OF PAKISTAN GIVE TO THE EXHIBITORS AND EVENT ORGANIZERS?
SALEEM KHAN TANOLI: Policies should be developed that facilitate the industries as a whole. Government should build more exhibition expo centers just like any other developing country. Furthermore, our embassies should take the initiatives in promoting our exhibition industry in other countries. Moreover, considering Pakistan's fragile economy and urgent need to boost industrial production, Pakistan needs to significantly intensify efforts for mobilization of foreign resources and that can only be achieved if the government supports exhibition industry as whole, create initiatives and build export trade relations with the neighboring countries.