Business events industry players in Malaysia are concerned about the lack of strong leadership at the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), as two stalwarts have recently left the organisation, with no successors named at press time.
On April 21, MyCEB’s CEO, Abdul Khani Daud, retired as a government officer on April 21, bringing to a close a remarkable career of 38 years of service in the tourism and business events industry.
More recently, former chief operating officer, Noor Ahmad Hamid’s tenure at MyCEB ended in early May. Highly respected, Noor was the regional director Asia Pacific of ICCA where he served for more than 11 years. Last year, Noor also received the highest international recognition from the Events Industry Council (EIC), and was inducted to the global Hall of Leaders Award in the US.
Although MyCEB will be taking part at IMEX Frankfurt, the national convention bureau vacuum is a major industry concern.
Irmohizam Ibrahim, pro-tem chairman, Business Events Council Malaysia, opined: “Malaysia stands to lose out at IMEX, which is all about personal connections, which Abdul Khani and Noor Ahmad are strong at. Industry leaders will lose market confidence if they do not see these familiar MyCEB leaders at the show.”
The Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers’ president, Francis Teo, is also concerned about the current void in leadership. He pointed out that delaying making new appointments would be a setback to Malaysia’s business events industry, and stressed the urgency of having the positions filled soon.
Once filled, Teo plans to brief the new leadership team on the current market situation and market needs.
Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners’ executive director, Shaharuddin M Saaid, also expressed his concern about MyCEB’s succession plan, and added that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture should have a succession plan for key positions in the various establishments it oversees.
Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre general manager, John Burke, also shared his hopes about the incoming MyCEB head.
“We hope that, in its future direction, MyCEB will look into amplifying efforts and investments in elevating Malaysia’s attractive destination profile as the preferred business events hub in Asia. Our industry needs a strategic and cohesive marketing and promotional campaign that will enhance our positioning and offerings to the international business events market. This needs to include both exhibitions that facilitate trade, import and export and conferences enable knowledge transfer and legacy impact.”
This is because Malaysia’s business events industry is faced with challenges such as regional competition, the lack of awareness and understanding of business events being a key mobiliser for economic development, and the perception that Malaysia it is not geared to host large international events, all of which Burke said was not true.
“As the national bureau, we expect that MyCEB will look into developing strategies to help narrow this gap in Malaysia through new directions, policies and efforts and close collaboration with government ministries to align business events with the country’s future development agenda,” he said.