For he’s a jolly good fellow! Why this year’s EVCOM Fellowship Award was richly deserved

Last week I made my maiden speech in the House of Lords. Consider that, if you will. Impressed? I was.

OK, I exaggerate slightly. I did make a speech and we were in the House of Lords but it was the Cholmondeley Room, overlooking the River Thames, rather than the debating chamber where my dulcet tones were delivered. And my audience wasn’t the ermine-decked and privileged upper house, it was a motley bunch of event professionals. But, hey ho….

I had been invited by those nice people from event industry trade association EVCOM to announce the bestowment of an EVCOM Fellowship Award on event business veteran Rob Allen. The EVCOM Fellowship lunch is a strange affair with an eclectic group in attendance. Most are event industry professionals but dotted amongst us were the occasional truly important folk like Lord Watson of Richmond, who kindly hosted us; BBC broadcaster and journalist Justin Webb and Dr Linda Papadopoulos.

Papadopolous received her award for services to psychology and gave a rather long and meandering acceptance speech linking psychology and event management, because they depend on excellent communication. It seemed a bit tenuous to me – I thought she should have stuck to the rather more obvious connection of ‘you-must-be-nuts-to-be-in-the-events-business’, but for some reason she eschewed that particular line of thought.

Justin Webb was a slightly more logical choice for a Fellowship Award as he works as a conference moderator and, as he reasonably pointed out, wanted to continue to collect his nice little earners from our business, so was delighted to show up for lunch and share a couple of excellent anecdotes about interviewing presidents (and not many of us can do that!).

But nobody could argue with Rob Allen’s award. He spent 18 years in our industry after taking the helm of agency TRO. He was nominated in recognition of his contribution to our industry and specifically his work with TRO pioneering the advent of experiential events and brand experience in the UK market.

His achievements are considerable. After joining a small-Norfolk-based agency called The Russell Organisation (later to become TRO) in 1996 he expanded the business into one of the largest event agency groups in the world. By 2014, when Rob stepped down as chairman, TRO employed 200 staff and had sales of £40m. Under his stewardship, they opened offices in Frankfurt, Shanghai, Melbourne and New Delhi. Despite saying he never really had much time for associations, he joined Eventia, which he later helped morph into EVCOM. Rob served six years on the Eventia Board including two as chairman and played a lead role in the collaboration between Eventia and IVCA to create EVCOM.

Rob now works as a consultant in the events sector but still finds time to cycle, row and participate in many charitable and challenging endeavours for charity. His EVCOM Fellowship was richly deserved because, as well as being a real business achiever, he is also a splendid fellow.