have to share the experience, to avoid a global period of political
Jackie Mulligan, VP of education for the MPI
United Kingdom & Ireland Chapter, co-owner and
events director for Game Republic and former director of enterprise and principal lecturer for the
UK Centre for Events Management at Leeds Beckett University.
The following exchange took place six days after the vote.
How do you anticipate the Brexit vote may
affect you professionally?
Universities rely on signi;icant European funding and collaborate with academics across Europe and beyond. We have students and staff from the EU. It will impact on research without
a doubt and this could
impact globally on the
progress of science,
technology and humanity. As a student and as a
professional, I have bene;ited hugely from free
movement whether travelling to work and study,
or gaining the bene;its of
services provided here in
the U.K. by people from
outside the U.K. for our
health, education and
much of our hospitality
industry. Our lives will
be materially, culturally
and intellectually poorer
if we break away from
our EU counterparts, the
single market and our
Are you taking any specific steps to prepare for a post-Brexit landscape?
I am preparing for volatility in the economy and will ensure my
business propositions focus on integrity, value, simplicity and
price, which will be crucial for the challenges and opportunities
How do you think this will impact the meeting
and event industry in the U.K. and Europe?
Currently, I see negative impacts as people struggle to understand and decide what this means. I know companies with EU
of;ices that feel uncertain. There is no clarity on freedom of
movement within the EU, which could produce a tremendous
skills shortage for the hospitality businesses and their suppliers
as well as travel companies. I do not think Brexit has helped the
Fiona Pelham, MPI chair and managing director
of Manchester-based Sustainable Events Ltd. The
following exchange took place the Monday after
What first entered your mind when you heard
that the U.K. is going to leave the EU?
My ;irst thought was shock—it didn’t represent to me what my
life in Britain had always been about. I’ve been fortunate enough
to live abroad, I work with people who are from different countries, so there was nothing in the “leave” vote that I could empathize with. And then also angry because I run my own business, so the implications are massive and the ;irst thing I did
was come into the of;ice and do an emergency Brexit plan, even
though we didn’t know—we still don’t know—what it’s going
to mean; it was just a case of looking at where our clients are
from, how many clients we’ve got in the U.K., how much money are we paying out in different currencies? Because straight
away the currency had gone down. I was angry because that’s
extra work to have to do, and when you run a small business you
always have enough to be doing!
Have there been any noticeable effects to your
business so far other than the currency fluctuations?
I had a call this morning about an event that I’m doing in October and the conversation was, “Do we think the sponsors are
going to be nervous and not spend sponsorship money? Do we
think we’re still going to be able to go ahead with the event?”
And we came to the conclusion that we think we’re going to
go ahead because we can’t see anything that’s changing—and
that’s really the hardest point, being in the unknown.
Would you venture to guess how this might impact
the meeting and event industry in the U.K.?
Every day, people decide where to hold their events. So if I was
a big association based outside the U.K. and I was choosing between the U.K. and another European [destination] and I wanted a low-risk option, I think if I had to make that decision today,
I’d probably [select] another European city. I’m not saying no
events are ever going to come here and this is not a comment
about the fantastic level of offering and service the U.K. provides, this is a comment about uncertainty—it’s fair enough to
say that people won’t be choosing uncertainty.
Is there anything else youʼd like to mention
regarding Brexit and meetings?
I know what a lot of people in the U.K. are saying: We really hope
America is watching, as another country facing a big vote this
year, and seeing that voting in uncertainty is dif;icult. We’re a
global business, so uncertainty in political climates and economic climates is never good for us. And it’s very interesting, I
never would have commented on American politics before the
[Brexit vote] experience—but having gone through it, I feel like I
WHICH AT THE
AND VERY QUICKLY
IT HAS BECOME
APPARENT THAT THERE
IS NOT A FEASIBLE