TSNN Podcast: Trade Show Talk

Trade show TalkTrade Show News Network is excited to share our ‘Trade Show Talk’ podcast which features two episodes each month focusing on hot-button topics. Each episode kicks off with a news round up before host Danica Tormohlen leads discussions with trade show and events industry leaders. If you'd like to be a guest or you have a topic to suggest that we cover, please let us know by emailing podcast@tsnn.com. If you would like to sponsor a podcast series, please contact jrice@tsnn.com 

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Listen to all previous podcast episodes HERE

Ep. 56 - Transforming Live Events: Freeman CEO Bob Priest-Heck Reflects on Innovation, Leadership & the Future of the Events Industry

Bob Priest-Heck joined Trade Show Talk to share his experience as CEO of Freeman, a privately owned global events company that employs more than 4,500. As he prepares to step down from his role on June 28 after 15 years at Freeman and six years at the helm, Priest-Heck reflected on the risks and rewards of his career that spans more than 35 years in the events industry. We talked about the early days when he was on the show management side and had a front-row seat to launching and producing massive tech events during the Internet boom. Under his leadership at Freeman, the company was recognized by Forbes as #4 in the Best Employers for Women and also as a Best Large Employer, and Chief Marketer named Sparks, a Freeman Company, to its Top Marketing Agencies of 2022. He shared insight on succession planning, design thinking and the transformation of live events post-pandemic. Find out the scoop on what’s next for his gap year. 


Our guest: Bob Priest-Heck, CEO & Board Member, Freeman

Priest-Heck is known as a visionary leader of people and events. His extensive experience across industries, technologies, and geographies brings a forward-thinking view to people development, business strategy, and the industry at large.


Under his leadership, Forbes recognized Freeman as #4 in the Best Employers for Women and also as a Best Large Employer, AdAge listed Freeman as the world’s largest global event marketing company in their World’s 50 Largest Agency Companies list, and Chief Marketer named Freeman to its Top Marketing Agencies of 2022.


An advocate of design thinking, Priest-Heck inspires by demonstrating innovation, made possible in a diverse and risk-tolerant environment. He encourages and motivates employees to integrate and optimize new technologies, championing Freeman’s vision to transform the world of live engagements.


Priest-Heck has always worked at the forefront of innovation in the events industry.  In the emergence of digital technology, he managed and created specialized trade events for early internet developers. He was a contributor when the first user-friendly web browser, Mosaic, was relaunched as Netscape Navigator. He moved to Japan to unveil the first major tech event produced outside of the U.S., NetWorld+Interop, and built a market for disruptive technology events. He helped host the first JavaOne conference for developers while working with Sun Microsystems, acted as an executive coach to Google leadership, consulted UBM (now Informa) on key acquisitions, and helped Dwell magazine expand its media platform into the new world of brand experiences.


Priest-Heck continues in the spirit of transformation and is respected for his progressive efforts in technology, advocacy, sustainability, and safety. He is optimistic about the future of the events industry and its evolution as the world’s markets change. At the forefront of the pandemic, Bob brought together over 80 industry leaders to form Go LIVE Together, facilitating legislative action to support the industry. This effort lives on as the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance (ECA), for which Bob serves as a board member. He also collaborated with John Cordier, CEO of Epistemix, on the creation of EnVision, a conference that brings together top health officials, scientific experts, and industry executives.


Most recently, Priest-Heck was part of the CEO advisory group that launched the Net Zero Carbon Events pledge at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26. Additionally, he has been honored among BizBash’s 2021 Most Influential Event Management & Consulting Professionals, received the 2021 Catalyst Award from Smart Meetings as an agent of change in the meetings industry, and was named by Meetings Today as one of the top twenty 2020 Meetings Trendsetters, recognizing those who stepped up when the industry needed them most.


Through Priest-Heck’s leadership, Freeman continues to transform live events, working as a team to reshape experiences — virtual, in-person, or integrated — that unite people for the moments that matter, no matter the format or timeframe.



Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

Podcast Host: Danica Tormohlen

danicaAn award-winning journalist who has covered the trade show industry since 1994, Danica Tormohlen is VP of Content for Informa Connect. In her role, she oversees content for Trade Show News Network, Corporate Event News and Exhibit News Now. These leading media brands publish websites, newsletters, social media channels, video, podcasts and online and in-person programming for the trade show, corporate event and exhibition industries.

Tormohlen currently serves on the executive committee for the Women in Exhibitions Network North America chapter. She has been a speaker and moderator at major industry events, including the TSNN Awards, IMEX, IAEE, SISO, UFI, ESCA and Large Show Roundtable — to name a few.


Thank you to our sponsor! 


Connect Marketplace: Where Events Business Get Done.

Connect Marketplace is headed to Milwaukee this August. Don't miss your opportunity to join thousands of passionate event experts from around the globe for unparalleled networking, one-on-one business meetings, innovative education sessions, and a dynamic tradeshow overflowing with the latest event solutions. Find out more at Connect Marketplace.


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