Meet the MD: James Gower of The Game Fair Limited

Meet the MD: James Gower of The Game Fair Limited

This July, The Game Fair, hailed as the country’s most important festival of the countryside, is set to inject more than £30m into the region’s economy when it returns to Ragley Hall. The event’s managing director James Gower joined the team last year and gives BQ an insight into his professional journey, and plans for the 2016 event.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

My overriding aim is to protect and build on the legacy of The Game Fair event - this underpins all I do as MD of such a prestigious, incredible event. Each day can be a mix of meetings with stakeholders, exhibitors, senior figures from the world of rural affairs and the countryside, politicians, government and professional advisers and business owners.

Supported by a fantastic team, I strive to harness and utilise their extensive expertise so that together we deliver a showcase for the countryside that is inclusive and accessible to all - from the die-hard countryside supporters and stakeholders, to businesses, and families.

What is it the company does?

The Game Fair Limited is responsible for staging the Game Fair, which is the authentic and unique festival of the countryside. This year the event is at Ragley Hall, where we anticipate 140,000 visitors and 800 exhibitors over its 3 days from 29th to 31st July, and is set to inject over £30million into the local economy.

The company is responsible for everything at the event, from its planning which began last year, to building partnerships with organisations dedicated to the rural industries and countryside.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I have been in the events industry for 30 years in which time I have been fortunate to be involved in a huge number of the UK’s best loved events including the Ideal Home Exhibition and the International Boat Show.

My career has included being Marketing Director for dmg World Media and for the British Marine Federation where for seven years I was responsible for the London and Southampton Boat Shows. At EMAP I was portfolio director for a series of shows in the construction sector.

I launched Brand Events Asia based in Hong Kong which had Top Gear Live as its first launch event. I joined The Game Fair as its MD last year, after a year with The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA).

What do you believe makes a great leader?

Vision and good communication, internally and externally. I always keep in mind that it is more fun to say ‘yes’ than it is to say ‘no’, and a great leader will always find a way.

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

I joined The Game Fair at a time of change – for years it had been branded as a CLA event – but this year marks the beginning of a new and really exciting phase in its history as The Game Fair is now neutral. Some might see this as a challenge, but I actually see it as a great opportunity.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I thrive on the pressure of being in the events industry – events come with a deadline and a strict timeframe, which makes the structure and expectation measurable, and known. Stress for me is when I’m away from work and not able to get on with doing the job!

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A vet. Arguably I am now therefore closer to this childhood dream than ever before, working on an event which celebrates everything about the countryside, including wildlife and birds.

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

Planning for, organising and staging a big event demands an efficient, well-oiled machine behind it, so anything that disrupts this finite operation is what frustrates me the most.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

My vision for The Game Fair in its new, refreshed and reinvigorated neutral position, is for it to flourish under my guidance starting this year, and growing more so each year thereafter. With the team, I feel like the custodian of the event’s brand and its legacy, and in the future I wish for it to be thriving, whilst continuing to be what it always has been – relevant, current, but yet more credible and useful to visitors and exhibitors than ever before.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Be brave – try everything, and create things and opportunities. The world today has knowledge at its fingertips and this is free too. Ideas still have value, so make sure whatever you do adds value, and is delivered with passion, quality and belief.