Interview with Petra Westphal on the change in drinktec’s project management team
Ms. Westphal, people in the industry like to call you “Miss drinktec”. Your name is almost a synonym for the world’s leading trade show in the industry. So the news that you would relinquish project management for it came as all the more of a surprise.
“I was often asked about the matter at drinktec and there seems to have been the one or other misunderstanding. What’s actually happening is that Markus Kosak, who’s been in charge of drinktec’s foreign projects to date, will act as project manager of drinktec in the future. But that doesn’t mean I’ll be withdrawing completely from drinktec.”
“I’ll still be responsible for drinktec in my capacity as project group manager, a post I already held. Not just for drinktec, but for the entire food and beverage industry cluster, which includes our foreign projects, such as China Brew China Beverage, drink technology India and food & drink technology Africa. Not to mention the forestry cluster with the INTERFORST fair. The project group comprises a total of six trade fairs and the whole team is made up of ten people, myself included.”
What does your work as project group manager involve?
“It’s very diverse. The primary objective is without doubt the strategic further development of our trade fairs. One good example of this is incorporation of SIMEI into drinktec. We negotiated this behind the scenes for years. Generally speaking, establishing and nurturing partnerships and cooperations takes up a lot of time. The same goes for internationalization of existing projects. In that regard, we’ve managed to ensure drinktec has a presence in all major markets with its foreign projects. On top of all that, I’m of course responsible for managing the staff under me.”
Why, of all things, are you relinquishing project management of drinktec? After all, they call you “Miss drinktec” and you’re the fair’s face.
“The name ‘Miss drinktec’ didn’t come about by chance. I was its project manager for 14 years and that name was coined for me in the industry at one point in all the years. I regard it as a great compliment to be identified with drinktec in such a way. However, it’s recently become clear that you can’t shoulder project management for a world-leading trade fair at the same time as heading a project group with its raft of diverse tasks and requirements – and in times where the challenges are growing in size and complexity, that’s simply not feasible and also wouldn’t do full justice to what drinktec needs. Expectations of a world-leading trade fair are extremely high, so it needs a separate management that is 100 percent there for drinktec. De facto, it’s been the case in the past two or three years that I was the face of drinktec, but no longer looked after operational matters in detail. That was done by my colleague Christina Maier, who had previously already acted as deputy project manager. However, she’s leaving Messe München for private reasons, so we had to reorganize our setup.”
What will Markus Kosak bring to the role of drinktec’s project manager?
“He’ll do a very good job. Markus Kosak is a proven expert in trade-fair management. He’s worked at Messe München for twelve years, and for the past ten he has supervised drinktec’s foreign trade fairs, i.e. drinktec worldwide. In the future he’ll control drinktec in Munich and develop it further, just like Christina Maier before him. As I said: The challenges aren’t diminishing in number – all I have to do is think of SIMEI@drinktec. Someone is needed who knows the day-to-day business and also thinks strategically is. It goes without saying that Markus Kosak works in close coordination with me, since I am his supervisor and, as I’ve already explained, still hold responsibility for the entire cluster, so in other words also for drinktec itself.”
Who’ll be the face of drinktec in the future?
“Markus Kosak has just embarked on his new job, so he has to and should be given the chance to ease into his new role. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll naturally continue acting as a representative of drinktec, albeit not as often or as visibly as before. I feel it important to stress that I’ll still be available as the contact person for customers if they so wish. But Markus Kosak will call the shots as project manager.”