150 days in office: Project manager Tanja Wendling takes stock of T4M for the first time

05.12.2018 - 14:36

Since April 2018, Messe Stuttgart has been working on its own trade fair for suppliers of medical technology. Tanja Wendling completed the T4M team in July as project manager. In an interview, she talks about her motivation, challenges and successes.

Mrs Wendling, on 28 November you have been in your position for 150 days. What do you enjoy most about your work as T4M project manager?

Right from the start, I found it especially exciting to get to know and understand the medical technology industry and to get involved in establishing a sustainable trade fair at the industry-relevant location of Stuttgart. It was also a great experience that I was so well received by the industry - as was the distinctive team spirit in our T4M project team.

If you look back: What appealed to you at the time to take on this job?

What was decisive for me was the versatility of the position. As a project manager at a trade fair, you have several roles and tasks at once: You are a strategist, manager and coordinator, responsible for marketing and sales and at the same time a networker and entrepreneur in your own "project matter". In addition, I was tempted by the T4M trade fair to create a new trade fair with industry depth - and this under high competitive pressure. You have to broaden your perspective, which I like to do.

What was the most exciting challenge for you at the beginning of your planning for T4M?

That was and is clearly the time factor. I started at Messe Stuttgart on 7 July 2018, ten months before the start of the fair, because T4M will open its doors for the first time on 7 May 2019. There isn't much time to ponder or try things out. The biggest challenge, of course, is to offer the medical technology industry a new product with T4M that not only meets their expectations, but also really inspires them.

From a today's perspective, how did you manage to meet these challenges?

The project has not yet been completed, but we are on the right track. I owe this above all to the management team of Messe Stuttgart and the project team of T4M, who give me freedom, backing, support and trust. Together, we continually win small races against the clock and then communicate the latest developments and cooperations directly to the market. Because we want to give companies who would like to exhibit in 2019 a good reason to come to T4M.

With VDMA and Swiss Medtech, you were able to win strong partners early on. Many of the big players in the industry are represented on the new trade fair advisory board. How important are cooperations for the success of a trade fair?

The needs of a trade fair vary greatly from sector to sector. In order to make T4M interesting for exhibitors, it is essential to be close to the medical technology industry. That's why we are very happy about the willingness of our partners, such as the VDMA and Swiss Medtech, to make T4M "big" together with us. Cooperations like these are based on trust, loyalty, distribution of tasks and communication. Only in this way can we quickly gain access to the market, recognize opportunities for T4M early on and use them to establish a sustainable medical technology trade fair here in Stuttgart. The "war of trade fairs" and the fight for the budgets of exhibiting companies has long since begun. Incidentally, this is not a specific problem, but extends across all event formats and industries.

You point out that T4M should become a trade fair "made by the industry for the industry". Can you give an example of an idea or suggestion from the industry that you will implement at T4M?

In meetings with companies, it became clear (very) early on that technical buyers are as important a target group for exhibitors as developers, quality managers and production managers but they are rarely to be found at trade fairs. When we then asked ourselves how we could make T4M more attractive for buyers, it quickly became clear that a cooperation with the German Association for Materials Management, Purchasing and Logistics (BME) was the right way to go. The BME is now organizing its "Forum Purchasing in Medical Technology" together with an associated workshop at T4M - for the first time ever at a medical technology trade fair. This is a great benefit for both sides, because through this cooperation we not only reach buyers effectively, we also connect them within the industry.

At the same time, you are working intensively on the T4M accompanying programme. The well-known futurologist Sven Gábor Jánszky has already been invited to give a lecture, and with the networking platform "Start-up World" you want to bring together founders and investors. Can you tell us what else you have up your sleeve?

We still have a few very exciting topics in the debate, but I can’t tell you just yet. Exhibitors and visitors at T4M can definitely count on this: We will bring the accompanying programme into the halls! Our principle "everything under one roof " includes a combination of exhibition, forums, workshops and networking and thus offers ideal conditions for new impulses and promising business contacts.

How satisfied are you with the status of exhibitor registrations?

Considering that T4M has only existed for a few months we have already achieved a lot. Keep in mind that we cannot fall back on rebookings from previous events, concepts or medical technology networks.

What will you do on 10 May 2019 - the day after the first T4M?

On May 10, 2019, after a hopefully very successful premiere of T4M, I will first relax and thank a fantastic team for the great cooperation. Then I will replenish my energy for T4M 2020.

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