AEO - Association of event organisers

Darren Johnson and Simon Parker voted in as new Chair and Vice Chair of AEO


Darren Johnson and Simon Parker voted in as new Chair and Vice Chair of AEO

10 Sep 2019

The AEO Council has officially elected Darren Johnson, chief executive officer of Reed Exhibitions UK, as the next Chair of the Association of Event Organisers. The election, which took place at the AEO Council meeting held on 5th September in Windsor, also sees Simon Parker, executive vice president of Informa, become Vice Chair. Former Chair Austen Hawkins will now assume the role of Past Chair for the forthcoming year.

Darren Johnson says: “We work in a sector that creates incredible experiences for consumers and businesses. We bring communities together and develop ecosystems that facilitate volume and value to the UK economy.  As the AEO, one of our key roles is to raise awareness within government of the huge positive impact our industry has, both within the UK and globally.  While the post-Brexit world is difficult to predict, we are preparing for how it may look and the positive contribution we can make.  The breadth and depth of our industry touches every part of our economy and places us in a great position to do this. 

I believe we are making progress in this space, but there is room for further development; it can be difficult to articulate the strategy in that ever changing environment. We need to clarify how events and exhibitions can help government deliver and drive policies.  Our industry also needs to be able to attract and retain the strongest talent to ensure we can deliver on our aspirations, and I’m a passionate believer in continuing to build a culture of inclusion and diversity to raise the profile of the exciting opportunities that exist in our sector.”

Chris Skeith, chief executive of AEO, says: “Member engagement with AEO has never been higher and this is largely due to the support of the AEO Council, in addition to the increased amount we now have on offer as member benefits.  Great thanks go to Austen Hawkins who has championed engagement within member companies during his tenure. We have seen unprecedented activity and outputs from our numerous Working Groups, including deeper insight from our research projects, particularly the AEO Salary & Employee Benchmark Survey with our largest ever participation. Under our Community pillar we had another sell out for our AEO Forums, and launched the spin off Leaders of Tomorrow webinar series; we also sold out for our 26th AEO Excellence Awards (for which we have been shortlisted for the Association Excellence Awards in October).  Austen has been extremely supportive and we’re delighted he will continue to be involved as Past Chair going into next year.” 

The AEO AGM followed the Council meeting and welcomed new board member Carina Bauer, CEO IMEX Group.  Paul Byrom, Managing Director, Live Events at Immediate Media Co. returns to the Council  alongside the re-elected  Damion Angus, Group Managing Director, Montgomery; Doug Emslie, Group Managing Director, Tarsus Group; Andrew Reed, MD Events and Exhibitions, William Reed Business Media; and Justin Phillips, Finance Director, Brand Events.

To find out further information about the AEO please visit the website and follow us on Twitter @aeonews


  • "Broadway Events joined the AEO on the Enterprise Membership. We’ve already taken advantage of the many benefits including the excellent FaceTime Masterclasses and training guides for exhibitors."
    Emma Barrett
    Broadway Events
  • "We are a member of the AEO because it is a proactive association for the events industry. As an organiser it provides us with high value ideas, networking, guidance and information."
    David Harrison
    PPMA Group
  • "This year, the association has led working groups to address industry issues and put on some amazing events full of insightful content for both organisers and, through the AEOs FaceTime initiative, exhibitors. In addition, the AEO has represented the industry at a Governmental level to raise awareness of the importance of events to the UK economy."
    Paul Byrom
    Upper Street Events
  • "I genuinely believe that if you’re involved in organising events you should become a member of the AEO."
    Simon Kimble
    Clarion Events
  • "Our membership of the AEO represents real and tangible value for UBM - it provides fantastic networking opportunities, practical training for our team as well as valuable insight into the state of our industry."
    Simon Parker
    Informa Markets
  • "As an Association business, we appreciate the excellent work the secretariat of the AEO do for our community. From the events side of our business, the AEO provides an excellent return on investment, providing thought leadership, fantastic networking, brilliant awards, excellent research and FaceTime, a valuable tool to tell our markets why exhibitions and events should be an essential part of the marketing mix."
    Neil Felton
  • "AEO’s networking and member meetings are valuable for individuals at all levels within our organisation. The promotion of our sector to the outside world, to government, authorities and business at large is another vital aspect of the AEO’s purpose for members, many of whom, like my company, work on events throughout the world."
    Stephen Brooks
    Mack Brooks Exhibitions
  • “Knowledge is power and the AEO dinners are certainly powerful, there is always a wealth of knowledge at the table. Insightful presentations make for a constructive and extremely social way to learn from the experts who’ve done it before. I attended the Japanese evening and gained really valuable insight about the culture and how best to communicate with a local audience.”
    John Whitaker
    Vice President Marketing, Data & Digital , dmg events
  • "We have the opportunity to contribute positively to the industry as well as gaining valuable insight and advice. There’s no need to spend valuable time and money reinventing the wheel when you have so many experienced professionals in AEO membership to learn from”
    Emma Cartmell
    CHS Group
  • "JOINING THE AEO HAS BEEN FANTASTIC! Being able to gift our customers with free places at the FaceTime masterclasses, learn alongside industry peers and seek advice to common challenges is invaluable”
    Sharon Azam
    GovNet Communications
  • I just wanted to send my most sincere thanks for everything that you and the AEO team are doing to help navigate the events industry through the pandemic. The working groups and communication from the AEO have been excellent and I’m really appreciative of being part of such a wonderful organisation.
    Simon Burns
    ICHF Events
  • I think what the AEO has been doing during this tough time has been exceptional.
    Greg Cherry
    QD Events LTD
  • It is so useful to hear from your peers at this time. Please pass my thanks to Ruth and the BTIG panel
    Dan Assor
    CloserStill Media
  • Just wanted to thank you and Ruth this morning for the Zoom meeting - it was really interesting to hear how things are moving along in the virtual/hybrid meeting/exhibitions. All very new to me, so a lot to digest.
    Maureen Wright
    Optic UK
  • The session this morning was fantastic. We are right in the midst of this and the information was so useful. We can apply it immediately
    Claire Adams
  • The AEO provides an opportunity to make a difference, to work with other companies for the good of the industry as a whole, but beyond that, it provides it’s members with valuable insight and tangible benefits to grow your business, upskill and engage your teams. For those reasons, our membership is in indelible ink on the each annual budget. In short, if you aren’t a member, you are missing out.
    Ed Tranter
    73 Media




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