Event Tech Awards 2021: Meet the Judges – Sophie Ahmed

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Sophie has 20+ years of experience in media and events; including exhibitions, conferences, awards and training across multiple industry sectors. She has launched and led successful global industry-leading events.

Her experience was gained on leading brands within global media, intelligence and events companies, including Reed Elsevier, Informa and Ascential.


  • What experience can you draw upon to successfully judge the ETAs?

    I have spent a lot of time on different demos for a variety of platforms and it has been fascinating to see such amazing event technology and to see how quickly it is evolving.  Plus, my background as an event organizer. So, I will be able to also view the entries from the event organizer’s perspective and think about how the technology could bring value to an event, deliver on its needs and that of its customers.

  • How long have you worked in the events industry and what keeps you interested in it?  

    I started in events in the late 90’s, working for Reed Exhibitions and it has been so interesting to see how events have evolved over the past 20+ years. I fell in love with events from Day 1. When I started out we didn’t even have pre-reg for visitors, all the exhibitor manuals were posted out in hard copy and all our sales contracts came in through the fax machine (I remember hours using the “I think there is a problem with our fax machine, I’m not sure if you were trying to send your sales contract through but can you please try again and I’ll go wait by it now” close on numerous occasions!)

  • Best (and worst?) moments working in the events industry? 

    The best moments by far and away are the amazing people that I have been lucky enough to work with over the years.  I have always been surrounded by an amazing team and we have worked hard but have had a lot of fun over the years.  I have also worked with the best contractors and I have worked in some great markets, globally, with brilliant customers – many whom I am still very good friends with today. 

    Worst…. I guess the night before a show I launched in Shanghai when the 4-day build had just been completed and we were informed by the local authorities that the show wouldn’t be allowed to open the next day!  But, somehow, we managed to sweet talk them (via a translator!) to open it and we opened to the best Day 1 of any event.  I loved that event — such a team effort, such an amazing industry and it was wonderful to see all the team’s hard work come to life and the industry come together. I learned a lot by launching this China show.

  • Favourite piece of tech for work and personal life?

    Work life: I spend most of my days on Google meet, or, to break it up …..  zoom! 🙂

    Personal life: any sort of app. I love apps.

  • What’s your go-to piece of tech when working on an event and why?

    Registration – it captures the data, it’s the start of the user journey and starts off the experience of an event for your delegates and exhibitors.

  • From your experience, what’s the best way to utilise tech at an event?

    I think that the best way to use tech at an event is to ensure you have your event strategy and your customer’s expectations set firmly first and then choose your tech so that can help to meet your defined strategy and your customer’s needs.  Used well and in line with the event strategy, tech undoubtedly enhances the event experience, generates new revenue streams, provides increased data and insight and creates a 365 offering.

  • We all learn from our mistakes! What was the biggest lesson you learned from a mistake since being in the industry?

    Be prepared.  You can never be overprepared in events. Have contingency plans and think through all angles well in advance.  The devil is in the detail with events!!

  • What are you most looking forward to at the ETAs?

    Seeing the innovation taking place, seeing new tech that I have not seen yet and hearing feedback from others in the industry about tech. Also hearing important discussions about the events industry from leaders and having the opportunity to meet new and old friends alike.

  • What do events, such as the ETAs, mean to you?

    They are key to bring everyone together to showcase industry innovation and to create an opportunity for business and discussion.  It is always so important to recognize talent and creativity and to showcase “best in class” to evolve the industry.

  • If you could only use one piece of tech when working on an event, what would that be?

    One-piece, that’s a hard choice, I may have to say two!  Anything for data capture, analytics and insights PLUS anything to support the creation of a year-round community 

The Event Technology Awards celebrate excellence in event technology. Entries are open now, find out more info here

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