There is only one person in our industry known worldwide by just his first name: Cherif.
With renewed interest in internationalizing exhibitions, I thought it would be helpful to share some background on one of the more globally-connected people I know.
Cherif Moujabber, owner of Creative Expos, fell into the exhibition business as a freshly arrived immigrant from Lebanon in 1976. He later moved onto what is now Reed Exhibitions on assignment to check out their investments in the Middle East. At the time, that region of the world had no real convention centers and the choice of local partners was poor at best. Based on his recommendations, they made a decision to leave that part of the world.
In the 1980’s, Cherif moved to California, Washington, D.C. and ultimately Singapore, running Reed’s Asia/Pacific division. He left the company in 1989, became president of IDG World Expo and moved to Europe. At the time, their portfolio was all technology.
After departing from IDG in 1993, Cherif decided to go solo, producing his own shows and began consulting with various media companies. Jim Bracken (another one of my favorite people in our business who just announced his retirement) came to Cherif and he began consulting with IT show companies who needed international assistance—be it geo-cloning or increasing international attendance and exhibitors in their US-based shows.
Cherif moved into other sectors when the IT bubble burst in 2000, most notably the Fancy Foods events. (The international representation at the Fancy Foods Show, particularly at the New York event, is nothing short of amazing. It almost makes IMEX America look domestic!)
These days, Cherif is found mostly on a plane doing some of the same things I do: setting up sales agents, working with associations such as ASIS and New York Toy Fair on increasing their international attendance and exhibitors, and taking shows overseas (World of Concrete India, for example).
Cherif boils down all that experience into three pieces of advice for a show trying to increase its international presence:
Stephanie S. Selesnick is president of International Trade Information, a longtime global exhibition industry specialist helping U.S show organizers increase international participation in their exhibitions and a well-known speaker and trainer. Follow her on Twitter at @stephselesnick.