Conversations Featured

In Conversation with Pune's Event Management Mogul – Francis Coelho

I have travelled a lot, but Pune is home. It’s like no other place on earth, maybe because I have stayed here for most of my life. People in Pune are genuinely nice, they are caring and there exists a community like feeling, which is slowly fading in most other cities.

Tell us a little about how you conceptualised and created Event Speciale.
My first stint with event management was during my Masters in Wadia College, Pune. I freelanced with an events agency named Event Pune Pvt. Ltd. and did a gamut of events with them and learned a lot about event production from my team here. This agency shut down eventually and I was left looking for other jobs. Much to my surprise, clients I had worked for as a part of the agency came back to me and asked me to conceptualise and produce events for them.
This was way back in 1998 when only iconic brands like Coco Cola and some other liquor brands spent money on events. Back then, the main purpose of doing an event was to launch a product/service. Events were marketing driven, not experience driven like today.
By 2000, the IT boom had taken place and software companies were on the lookout for ways to retain their employees. That’s when the “employee engagement” fad bloomed in Pune and many companies were looking at employee centric events like annual days, one day induction events etc. to keep their employees happy. This upcoming trend played a major role in my motive behind founding Event Speciale.
Apart from this, having worked for a couple of years I realised that event managers in Pune at that time were basically event equipment suppliers. My idea was to add a tinge of creativity than just being mere equipment suppliers. Even if it was a day-long induction with conferences and speeches, I wanted to ensure that employees who attended this remembered their induction program well enough to compare it to other induction programs they have been to and would ever attend in the future!
Adding a little bit of creativity is what makes the event an experience, and with this very thought I conceptualised Event Speciale. We became a registered company in 2005 and Geometric, a company under HCL technologies was my first client as Event Speciale and till date we craft employee engagement experiences for them. Despite having done umpteen events in different genres over the years and having thoroughly enjoyed them, I will always have a soft spot for MICE ( Meeting, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition) events as that is the basis on which this company was founded.
What is the most challenging part about organising events in India?
I’m sure a lot of event managers across the country will agree with me on this. I believe Compliance and Safety is the biggest challenge in organising events in India. Before an event, the law of the land states a certain set of rules and regulations that we are expected to adhere to. Compliance to these rules and regulations is supposed to guarantee safety but that is not the case in India. Despite the elongated compliance procedures, we have to go an extra mile to ensure safety by taking extra measures ourselves which increase costs for us. But we do it, because the safety of our attendees is our primary concern come what may.
The government requires an event having more than 300 attendees to have a stand by Fire Engine. Despite complying to this, the fire engines are nowhere in the vicinity on the day of the event. We have to go the distance to ensure the safety of our attendees which is an added responsibility which these compliance procedures are actually supposed to alleviate. Having worked with international teams and seeing the smoothness in which safety and compliance is taken care of makes me want such a seamless system put in place for our country as well.
That said, there are no other challenges I have faced specific to our country. For me Event Management on the whole is an addictive challenge.
You’ve done a massive variety of events over the last decade, which ones have been your favourites.
Being production partners to NH7 and Enchanted Valley Carnival remains my fondest memory so far. I feel privileged to have been part of the team that tapped a blooming market of music festival communities on such a large scale in India and having spawned a whole generation of music enthusiasts and having opened Indian doors to International artists. Producing and promoting these events were a turning point in my career. I was exposed to the world of  Intellectual Properties are how they are created , how they can be capitalised, the avenues of promotion and the possibilities of digital media to name a few things I learnt.
Apart from this, the Indo German Urban Mela in 2013 was a memorable event. We worked with an excellent German team and it was a momentous event with a great turnout . The quality of this event was par excellence. Be it the concept, content, production, promotion or even safety compliance!
In fact, this year, we have many such productions coming up with a lot of exciting artists so I’m hoping my next favourites are coming up in 2017.
Personally, we hear you enjoy running to stay fit. Tell us more about that.
I believe in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Event Management is a high stress job and if I have to deliver my best, I have to be at my best. So, I make it a point to run roughly around 6 km daily. I occasionally take time out to play a sport or two. I also follow the keto diet and am currently on a mission to get all my employees on a keto diet!
What do you love most about living and working in Pune?
I have travelled a lot, but Pune is home. It’s like no other place on earth, maybe because I have stayed here for most of my life. People in Pune are genuinely nice, they are caring and there exists a community like feeling, which is slowly fading in most other cities.
I’d go to the extent of saying that Pune has such positive feel good vibes like no other city in India . That apart, the food in this city is something that keeps me rooted here. I’d probably have sizzlers from Japan and still prefer sizzlers from Zamus, Bounty and The Place here. The sizzlers in these three places are to kill for. And don’t even get me started on the Misal Pav here!
Finally, what do you think is lacking in our country in the events space?
I don’t believe there is anything lacking per say. I see a lot of passion, talent and business in the events space. Things are going great with experiential marketing bound to be the next big thing. This opens up a lot of avenues for the events industry. So, it’s a great place to be. The only thing I am concerned about, like I said before, is the lack of importance given to safety and compliance. I would like to urge event professionals sitting across the board to look into this matter intently because with the scale of events happening now, our country’s regulations are not set in place to take care of such masses. Apart from this, events are an exciting place to be in today.