IN PERSON: Martin Pentony-Woolwich, managing director, Delegate Management Services

"Passionate, caring and professional is how one of his employees chooses to sum up his boss, Martin Pentony-Woolwich, managing director at Delegate Management Services (DMS). Given that Pentony-Woolwich is standing by said employee, maybe the answer should be taken with a pinch of salt. But spend more than five minutes with him, and the passion Pentony-Woolwich feels for his company and the industry as a whole becomes apparent.

Even his office nickname implies his wholehearted enjoyment for what he does. "They call me the evangelist, he laughs. "I'm here day in day out and very enthusiastic about what we do."

Although he has worked within the conference services industry for more than 20 years, it is clear that his zeal for the job has not dampened.

He has also seen the industry evolve rapidly and notes how the whole meetings business has increasingly matured, particularly when it comes to event evaluation, an issue he feels strongly about. "There was a time when the CEO would stand by a lectern and the success of the event was measured by the amount of applause. Nowadays there are much more sophisticated ways of measuring an event's success, he says.

The new importance given to event evaluation and delegate profiling is not lost on DMS, which counts these services among its offer.

Pentony-Woolwich describes DMS' role in its simplest terms as a "booking service for conferences". He continues: "When we first started, only exhibition companies were providing our kind of services, but we realised that we could help with what can be a very stressful part of the job for clients.

Basically what was time-consuming for the client is now our job, he says."The company has turned out nothing like how we felt it was going to, and I never thought all those years ago that I would end up where I am today."

Nonetheless, he admits to being driven and ambitious and it is clear to see it is this that has got him to where he is. The company now employs more than 50 people and counts Microsoft, Oracle and SAP among its clients.

He is not so pleased with all the changes within the industry, though.

"Many events have lost that glamorous edge, and there seems to be little theatrical element anymore, he says ruefully.

His love of theatre is clear from his past work experience. He began his technical career in lighting, working on cruise ships for two years followed by a stint in west end theatre. "Working on the ships was fantastic experience because you had to turn your hand to everything. I would often find myself calling bingo to 3,000-odd people."

In 1983 he was employed by Spectrum, now Jack Morton Worldwide, as in-house lighting designer, before becoming technical services director in 1985. By 1987 he was a board member of Spectrum and was given responsibility to establish DMS as a fully owned subsidiary of Spectrum. In 1996, he and business partner Robert Thompson took the company into independent ownership.

He now has his sights firmly set on the US, even though he readily admits that the market has shrunk of late. "That's understandable considering the events that precipitated it, but I feel we must set up in the US.

It means we will be able to cater for our clients in an even greater capacity. He is coy about whether he will be going out there himself to set it up, and there is the feeling that he is ready to take a back seat with this venture and let someone else take on the responsibility.

But whether he goes or not, his enthusiasm will earmark the project for success. And just in case it fails, Pentony-Woolwich still has one card up his sleeve. "If it all goes pear-shaped at least I know I'd make a great bingo caller, he jokes.

Pentony-Woolwich on...

...his favourite destination

"It would have to be my front room, because I love being with my kids and wife. Much of my travel in the past has been work-related so I like to be with them as much as possible."

...his dream job

"I know this is naff, but I really love what I'm doing. What I appreciate is the educational aspect as I work with some very clever clients who teach me just as much as I can help them."

...his most embarrassing moment

"While at Spectrum we did a job at the Great Hall of People in China.

I took the decision to cut the set - at precisely the wrong time it turns out. Suddenly, on the stage, 22 crew wearing bright red T-shirts with the company's name emblazoned in gold were 'revealed'."

...his favourite saying

"'You never get a second chance to make a first impression'. I first heard this expression at a conference a few years back and felt it hit the nail on the head. It's all about what we do as we are constantly in the front line and need to make that vital first impression count."

CAREER FILE
1996 managing director, Delegate Management Services
1994 director, Delegate Management Services
1986 creative services director, Spectrum
1985 technical services director, Spectrum
1983 lighting designer, Spectrum

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