After his first trip overseas in almost 2 years, we sat down with our international business development manager Mark Light to recap on his venture and UnitBirwelco's first time exhibiting at Gastech.
Q- What is Gastech?
A- Gastech is a landmark even in the global energy sector, a conference and exhibition lasting 3 days (this year due to COVID). I had this event in my sights within the first few weeks of joining UB, back in May’20. At the time, the event was planned for Singapore. Back then, this would have been the ideal location for UB to relaunch itself in to South East Asia to promote its world class emergency Flare System, which is mainly used in offshore applications; Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSOs) vessels and offshore platforms. Looking that the 45 year history of UB producing Flare Systems, we can historically sold in to Malaysia, Vietnam and Korea, to end clients, EPCs and Fabrication yards. Whilst UB are well known globally for their Flare System, we only command a small percentage of the ever increasing Eastern market, so location would have been ideal. However, COVID wasn’t going to allow this, so in August this year, we had a call from the organisers advising the location would change to Dubai. Whilst being pitched too by the organisers to convince me that the location change wouldn’t impact the quality of attendees and visitors, the ‘Hydrogen Zone’ wan mentioned. Seeing as for the past 9 months, UB have been working with USA based partner developing the worlds first Hydrogen powered Steam Boiler. Coupled with the fact that UB have also seen increased activity and interest in Flare Gas Recovery in the past 12 months, it seemed an ideal place to exhibit!
Q- What is was like travelling again after Covid?
A- I must admit, once making the flight bookings, I did get a real positive buzz. The thought of the world returning to some form of normality so we can all get on with our lives! A few days before though, I did start to get a few butterflies in the stomach. Not many things phase me these days when it comes to international travel (those of you who know me well will understand), but it did feel a little bit like to rule book had been ripped up, and it was all a new experience. Thankfully though, the lovely people at Emirates airlines were brilliant in making the journey smooth and trouble free (gratuitous plug for an upgrade on my next flight if anyone from Emirates is reading!!).
Q- What it was like exhibiting?
A- So, to the exhibition.. set up on the Monday took a bit of time. Seeing as I had legged the stand and mini Flare System as additional luggage, it was a bit of a task transporting to the venue. Thankfully, the walkway from the hotel to the hall was air conditioned, so not too much of a drama there! Fairly quick setting up, although had to wait a number of hours to get power to the stand. All sorted though, so everything was set for day 1!!
Day 1; opening speeches did delay footfall for the first few hours. Once they were over though, the visitors came thick and fast until around 5PM – the day flew by! The same scenario for day 2, day 3AM the same, tailed off in the afternoon though!
Q- Did you make many new connections?
A- Whilst there was a truly global attendance, people past the UB stand were generally from the Middle East and the west; traders, resellers, EPC companies, engineering consultancies, operators and oil & gas officials from a few governments. A real mixed bag, one common theme though! All had smiles on their faces and were genuinely appreciative that they could attend and network with connections, new and old.
There’s one key point that I’d like to mention; being a ‘seller’ myself, I always try to give people the time of day when they visit my stand, as they, like myself, are there trying to do a job. OK, there might not be any synergies, but I always treat people as I would like to be treated. So when I had the chance to visit other stands to network, I was pleasantly surprised to be treated in the same way! Maybe that tolerance will run thin once we get back in the swing of exhibitions, but for the first major one, everyone was on point!
Q- Did it feel better getting back to face to face conferences as opposed to online?
A- Yes, it did feel good to be back in a face-to-face environment. Took a little bit of getting used too though, especially when meeting some people for the first time whom you’ve only met on TEAMS previously, where you only see shoulders and head! Certainly, some surprised expressions on my face more than once!!
Q- What do you think the future of events look like – online or in person?
A- There’s no doubt that virtual events have been a huge success. Thanks to our good friends at The EIC; UK- Sarah, Neil and Diveena, UAE - Ryan, Dina, Baq, Helen. APAC - Azman, Awang, Faazila, Nasheena. Americas- Amanda, Clarisse and Monique. They have organised some exceptional events. In my humble opinion, being in the company of others, the interaction is less staged, less of an effort than having to involve technology. Personally, I really hope that ‘in person’ events continue to thrive – paying attention to safety guidelines of course!
In closing, thanks to everyone that visited the UB booth, and also took time to listen to me pitching to them and picking their brains for info! Now the mammoth task begins in following up with the raft of connections made!