Review: Five Agencies to Watch in 2016 - Ashfield Meetings and Events

C&IT caught up with global managing director of Ashfield Meetings and Events, Nicola Burns, to find out about the expansion of the agency through both the Ashfield and SPARK THINKING brands.

Nicola Burns, global managing director of Ashfield Meetings and Events
Nicola Burns, global managing director of Ashfield Meetings and Events

How was 2016 for Ashfield?

We reviewed and invested in our core service offerings to position the agency for growth, which included the introduction of a hub strategy to align with our clients and their meeting requirements.

As a result we moved our US office in Pennsylvania into new premises. We are also relocating our Indianapolis office into larger space.

We also launched our ‘Science of Meetings’ approach which offers insight-led personalised healthcare professional experiences. It resonated very well with our clients and has resulted in an increase in the multi-channel communication activity we are now providing.

What were your goals for 2016 and did you achieve them?

We wanted to develop SPARK THINKING as a consultancy and communications brand. In addition to utilising the brand to offer our existing clients a blended team approach, we have diversified by winning financial, automotive, technology and public sector business. Together Ashfield and SPARK THINKING provide a broader, more diverse skill set to our clients and a more powerful communications offering.

We also used the strength of the Ashfield brand in the healthcare sector to expand outside of pharmaceuticals. By adopting a health first and sector second mindset we have opened doors into health beauty, health foods, and nutraceuticals. These represent a significant growth opportunity in 2017.  

What have the biggest highlights and successes of 2016 been?

We were particularly proud that we won a prestigious UK Employee Experience Award for our learning and development programme. This is because everyone in the business contributed towards it and it demonstrates that we put our employees first. We invest a lot of time and resource into providing our employees with the opportunity to have a long and successful career with us.

What are your plans and focus for next year?

We will be investing in new and innovative ways of servicing our existing clients as well as focusing on our new business pipeline. To help drive this innovation, we recently held a future technologies advisory board and are currently exploring how we can strengthen our technological offering with strategic partnerships. Our content team are involved in these discussions to ensure it is aligned with our approach to personalising audience learning preferences - as we reach a tilting point with digital native audiences this is critical.

There is lots of talk about the uncertainty surrounding BREXIT and the recent US election. Whilst this hasn’t impacted us to date we will be keeping avery close eye on all the external influences that can impact our industry and our clients’ event activity.


See more:

Review: Five Agencies to Watch in 2016- The Appointment Group

Five Agencies to Watch in 2016: How did they fare?

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