SOORAJ DHAWAN, President, Indian Exhibition Industry Association Founder & Director, Falcon Exhibitions Pvt. Ltd.

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ES. From acting as the Honorary Secretary to accepting the role of the President of IEIA, how do you think the transition is going to contribute in your actions and efficiency?

Sooraj Dhawan. The Indian Exhibition Industry is at a major tipping point and under the dynamic leadership of Ms. Sonia Prashar, IEIA has done absolutely tremendous work in advocacy, market awareness, skilling and creating global linkages etc. over the last two-three years.

In my new role, I endeavour to take this industry to the next orbital level by focussing on deeper Central Government interactions, creating new initiatives with States and building cross industry partnerships in skills, strandardisation and scaling up. This task will be achieved together with our well accomplished Executive Committee and a very competent Secretariat supporting the planned initiatives.

ES. How do you consider the IEIA’s contribution in terms of growth and development of the exhibition industry, could you highlight its glorious journey over the years?

Sooraj Dhawan. Since its formation in 2006, IEIA has been at the forefront in creating the entire ecosystem of exhibitions industry in India. We must thankfully acknowledge the humongous efforts of our founding industry leaders who incessantly worked towards establishing our sound foundation.

Under the mentorship of IEIA, Indian Exhibition Industry is today is well established with good standards and systems in place. We can proudly acclaim that India has amongst the best venues for organising mega events globally and this value offering goes beyond the Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad centres which existed in 2006.

The whole world is watching India with interest, Most of the leading global exhibition organisers have their wholly owned subsidiaries in India and many are finalising their India entry strategies. IEIA works closely with Service Partners. We have also seen maturity in the delivery standards of our service partners who have successfully delivered some of most challenging assignments in trying times.

Venues, Organisers, Services Partners and Media are the essential pillars of IEIA and IEIA will lead the industry towards the new directions.

ES. With over 30 years of experience in this industry, what major trends do you see emerging in 2024 in the exhibition industry?

Sooraj Dhawan. 2024 should be the year of rapid growth and consolidation. We will see further digitalisation of exhibition industry processes, more technology in action on show floors and an increased awareness on sustainability.

ES. How do you feel we can attract the youth to join the exhibition industry and support its future growth?

Sooraj Dhawan. The modern Exhibitions Industry offers several exciting career options and IEIA looks forward to encourage the best of talent to join our amazing world.
Planning management strategy with risk assessment and mitigation should attract business school graduates in managerial positions. Sales & Marketing, Operations and Site Management, Production Planning, Vendor Management, HR management, Technology integration, there is a plethora of exciting career options for the youth of today in the business of exhibitions.

IEIA intends to organise Career Fairs shortly to assist our members on their talent search.

ES. What are some of the insights that we can draw from the many exhibitions that have happened in 2023, what is your perspective on the growth of Indian Exhibition Industry in the next 3 years?

Sooraj Dhawan. 2023 was the year of comeback for the Indian exhibitions industry and we could not have asked for a better year. Each show had satisfied exhibitors with all time high footfalls. Next 2 years will be the years of Super Growth and we should grow 2X in the next 3 years. India has the demand for all types of goods and services due to its diversified population base.

Indian exports are rising in Global markets and buyer missions are thronging India for product sourcing. We have busy times ahead and should scale up to meet the market expectations of bigger and better.

ES. Post COVID-19, the Indian exhibition industry remained resilient and drew a significant number of exhibitors and visitors. Would you like to emphasize the key elements that drove this conducive environment in India?

Sooraj Dhawan. Fundamentals of Indian economy are sound and domestic demand for goods and services is here to stay. While COVID-19 was devastating and disruptive, it gave us an opportunity to introspect, re-invent and create new engagement options for buyers and sellers. Post COVID-19, it is a new world, but business as usual. Our ardent desire to innovate and organise exhibitions in a closely monitored situations was appreciated globally. India was amongst the first to get back to business.

ES. What keeps you busy when you are away from work?

Sooraj Dhawan. I am a blessed follower of Paramahansa Yogananda Ji and given a chance, would be like to meditate the whole day. As far as work is concerned, I believe in first doing what is necessary; then focussing on what is possible and then taking care of the impossible. I have not created work silos in my life. Life cannot be divided into work – leisure hours. Life is a continuous flow of events and for me the whole world is my family. For me, there are no strangers, but friends yet to be discovered.

Karma Yoga is also a form of meditation and I play my role in this Maya world to be best of my abilities. I am an eternal student and happiest when I am reading. I have my collection of 5000+ books on all walks of life. All are welcome a Coffee with a Book in my workspace any day.