My life in the grocery trade

Caroline McCusker, Event Manager for IFEX with Fresh Montgomery

Caroline McCusker, Event Manager for IFEX with Fresh Montgomery

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE?

I am the events manager for IFEX and ScotHot, which is owned by Fresh Montgomery. At Fresh Montgomery, we specialise in trade shows for the food, drink and hospitality industries in Belfast and across the UK as well as Asia and South Africa. Our portfolio includes IFE, Hotelympia as well as the Speciality Fine Food Fair. IFEX is Northern Ireland’s biggest trade event, which takes place every two years. We’re currently working on IFEX 2018, which is taking place from the 20th–22nd March.

BRIEFLY OUTLINE YOUR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY TO DATE

I have worked in the events industry for over 15 years. My experience spans a number of business-to-business sectors; however, my specialism is in the food, drink, foodservice and hospitality industries. I have worked on eight editions of IFEX, and it’s been a pleasure (and hard work) to see the event go from strength to strength despite the changing environment. The longevity of IFEX reinforces the important role that value of face-to-face marketing still plays in helping to grow business and make new contacts.

WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE INVOLVE?

Each day is very different and varies depending upon the show that I am working on. Next year, IFEX is introducing a sister show – Meat@IFEX – this innovative new event will be focused on showcasing the meat sector and it will also house over 250 butchers from around the globe, who will be taking part at the World Butchers’ Challenge – a first for Northern Ireland. This is keeping me busy, liaising with exhibitors and show partners ahead of the show to ensure we deliver a seamless event for over 7,000 industry professionals.

WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?

With a background in sales, I really enjoy the process of identifying potential customers, liaising with them and securing a deal. I’m a people person so never shy away from face-to-face meets or phone calls as both the events industry and food, retail and hospitality sectors are all about building and establishing relationships. In my role, I get to meet interesting people who are driving the sector forward and it is really inspiring to work alongside them. Worst – sore feet! The concrete floors which are favoured by venues start to take their toll after walking miles over the duration of a show.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?

IFEX 2016 was a very proud moment for me. Coinciding with the Year of Food & Drink in Northern Ireland, 2016 was also IFEX’s biggest show to date with visitor numbers up by 22% and the feedback we received both during and post show was incredibly positive. IFEX won numerous awards that year including the top prize for Best Tradeshow Exhibition under 2,000sq.m at the AEO Excellence Awards.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING INVOLVED WITH THE LOCAL RETAIL INDUSTRY?

The diversity and innovation. I get to mix with a real assortment of industry professionals –  from the biggest names in the retail sector to small start-up businesses. They are responsible for driving forward the sector and it is inspiring to be a part of it.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?

I am a real foodie and love checking out some of the fantastic restaurants across Belfast with my husband and girlfriends. We also love to travel and Malaga is my home from home, which I try to visit at least three times during the year.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE MAY KNOW.

I like to keep fit and attend Ian Young ifit circuit class once a week.

Share this Post:

Also in this section