Carol Weaving is an inspirational leader. As Reed Exhibition SA’s head honcho, she leads by example. Her energy, passion and enthusiasm is infectious and motivating. A self-confessed adrenaline junkie with seemingly boundless energy levels, she lives her commitment to her daily mantra, carpe diem (“seize the day”), to the full. When it comes to pop culture, Carol loves music so naturally the Guardians of the Galaxy films grabbed her attention. But it was Baby Groot who stole her heart. His adorable face is always around as he adorns her office in posters, bobble heads, and pen holders.
1. Welcome to TV Series Hub, an unusual guest of some sorts, how would you describe yourself and your role in brief?
I’m the MD of Reed Exhibitions in Africa which includes 17 exhibition & event titles and we manage the Ticketpro Dome in Northgate. I’m a raging entrepreneur with lots of ideas and energy but the drive and determination to make some of these ideas a reality.
2. Growing up in the UK, a place many wish to settle or visit, what brought you to South Africa? Which city moved your heart?
I love South Africa for many reasons but no favorite city as such. They all have their unique charm and personality. I worked in Radio in the UK and an opportunity came up in SA through someone I worked with so I didn’t hesitate and although I didn’t know anyone I had somewhere to stay so I arrived with one suitcase and 200 pound in my pocket and the rest is history. I was looking to travel the world and got as far as SA and then stayed. I now travel for fun.
3. With such an impressive career, how did a career move to becoming the youngest director of Automobile Association at the Kyalami Racetrack at the age of 29 happen?
The Kyalami race track was looking to expand it’s offering as opposed to just motor racing so I was brought it to run the venue and we turned the pits into an exhibition & conference center so whilst it was somewhat rustic it worked and was a great location to run exhibitions which were booming during that phase. The AA then bought the race track and I became the youngest director at the age of 29 and only one of two ladies at the time.
4. Which soft/hard skills are necessary for the ‘Exhibition’ Industry?
Yes the exhibition and event space is the third most stressful industry in the third world, 3rd to Air traffic controller (1st) and surgeon (2nd). It is not for everyone as it’s fast paced, deadline driven and has so many moving parts. You need to be a multitasker & jack of all trades in many ways but you need to be tenacious, have complete confidence in your own abilities and a good old fashioned hard work ethic. You also need to be strategic and have the vision and foresight to understand what the end goal should look like. Then of course you have to deliver on your vision and make it happen. Often companies and individuals fall down at the implementation phase.
5. When did you decide to start your own company? It is one of the crucial life decisions one has to make during their working career, what advice would you give to others aspiring to follow this path?
It’s a very big decision as again not everyone has the stomach for risk which is exactly what running your own business is. You need to have a clear strategy before you embark on this path. How do you finance it? How do I market my business? What happens if it doesn’t go quite like it should? The bottom line is you need to believe in yourself, have the courage of your convictions and have the drive and determination to succeed. You will always have the prophets of doom who will say it won’t work on and so on but you have to ignore this and focus on what you are doing and plan, plan, plan.
6. Empowerment and Transformation, one of the hot topics in South Africa at all levels, how would you describe them, how did you work towards it and how would you measure one’s performance with regard to being empowering and transformative?
Empowerment and Transformation is not just about people it’s also about business in general. Every business needs to transform digitally to really understand your customers in order to deliver a great ROI for them. You need to empower your teams but with empowerment comes accountability. At reed we believe in diversity across the board and we do not discriminate but rather we invest and spend a great deal of money on training & skills development across the board but especially on previously disadvantaged individuals. We believe in female empowerment to the extent that 70% of our workforce is female.
7. Managing major exhibition titles, what challenges have you faced so far, what are ongoing challenges and how do you combat challenges you face on a daily basis?
There are always a number of issues to consider from the macro environment and the state of economy to market changes and conditions. We have to be creative to ensure we mitigate against risk and most of all we invest in our marketing in a tough economy so we can ensure that we improve our offering and set ourselves apart from the competition. It’s about being adaptable, ensuring we put our customers first and deliver an excellent offering for both our visitors, fans and exhibitors. Happy customers mean happy staff.
8. In your interview with MBB Media, you mentioned that “The success of business in Africa rests in face-to-face, partnerships and relationships”, having been to several countries around the world, how does this dynamic come to play? Why is it different from other countries?
Building personal relationships in Africa is critical. People want to deal with people they like and trust. They need to know that their investment is managed professionally and is in safe hands. They need to know that at Reed we go above & beyond for our clients and customers.
9. Comic Con Africa will be hosted in Cape Town for the first time on 1st to 3rd May 2020 at the Cape Town Stadium, what was happening behind the scenes to make it happen?
There was a definite demand from the Cape Town community to have their own Comic Con. A great deal of people do not have the funds to experience a Comic Con overseas or even in JHB so it’s important we take a Con to our fans. There will be a bigger emphasis on Film & Series especially with Cape Town being the film capital of Africa. We have also joined forces with the International Animation Film Festival which already has an amazing following and there are more announcements to follow.
10. What are the key elements of a Comic Con? How is the African Comic Con similar and different from other international ones?
Comic Con Africa has a lot of similarities to all the global con’s as this is what makes it truly global and special. However it has an African flavor where we can showcase our amazing SA and African talent to the rest of the world. This is why platforms of this nature are so critical. Where else do they get an opportunity to be marketed at a global level. As an organization we put the “fans first”, we listen to them, engage and ensure we deliver on what they need. It’s a world class event with a local personality and there is something for the entire family.
11. It is estimated around 40,000 fans will attend Comic Con next year, what should fans be expecting from Comic Con Africa next year?
Comic Con Africa is coming up in Sept and this year we have doubled the amount of Comic Book Artists, doubled the space and doubled the entertainment value. We have 7 tournaments and freeplay areas for the gaming community. For the first Comic Con Cape fans will be treated to International and local celebrities, masses of panels & content, 100’s of speakers and a jam packed stage of talent and merchandise across all our 5 pillars. Film & Series, Comic Book Artists & Authors, Gaming & Esports, Cosplay, Table Top Gaming and Role Playing and all things pop culture.
12. You have had an excellent career so far, what drives you to continue to strive for excellence everyday?
Seeing a project come to life that I have conceptualized is my driving force. I have never chased the money, if you do a good job that will follow. Also being grounded and never arrogant. There is a huge difference between arrogance and confidence.
13. What advice would you give to anyone that wants to join the industry?
Work hard, be committed, have confidence and importantly have fun.
14. Thank you for joining us, what message would you like to leave for our readers?
Join us at Comic Con Africa this year at Gallagher estate from 21st to 24th September for the most fun you will have at any event for a day or even weekend. Tickets are selling fast. We promise you great entertainment for the whole family.
Comic Con Africa will be at Gallagher estate from 21st to 24th September 2019