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Video: Interview with Mark Riches, co-founder of FIRST agency

Mark Riches is a veteran of the industry. A co-founder and director of FIRST, he recently announced his resignation from the agency after almost 23 years.

He spoke to M&IT about his early years as well as the highs and lows in his career. After more than two decades in the events industry, Riches said he was keen to travel the world. He is also committed to working with organisations such as FastForward15, a programme for women which runs for a 12-month period, during which time mentees and their mentors work together to achieve objectives and goals.

Riches said: “It has been an amazing FIRST journey, and this has only been possible with the support of our clients. It feels like a good time to step aside, as I leave an extremely strong business with a clear focus on the needs of our clients. FIRST’s people and leadership in our teams around the world are best in class.”

Riches stepped down as managing director in February 2018, moving out of his day-to-day responsibilities to “focus more on how FIRST globally delivers world-class solutions to the brands it serves”.

With an early background in hotel and venue management, Riches has played an active role in the promotion of event apprenticeships in the last few years, and chairs the Industry Advisory Board for the Trailblazer Apprenticeship scheme in events management.

He is also an advisor to various global hotels and luxury brands, through their advisory boards, and is a Trustee of the UK’s busiest green space, Jubilee Gardens on London’s South Bank.

FIRST ranked no.122 on the 2019 list after having ranked no.149 in 2017. The agency was also one of the 34 companies on this year’s list that either has a woman as chief executive, managing director, or chairperson or was founded or co-founded by a woman.