‘I Admire the Greek Philosophers’

Matthias Schultze, Managing Director, German Convention Bureau (GCB), on the importance of looking at the bigger picture in the face of change.

Matthias Schultze began his career in hotel and congress management working for Hilton International in Germany and the World Conference Centre Bonn, before joining the German Convention Bureau, based in Frankfurt. Here he explains his aims for the year ahead, which tie in to the bureau’s long-term goals.

In my opinion, the biggest challenge we are facing as an industry is also a huge opportunity — successfully managing and shaping the digital-transformation process in our sector, opening up new business models to future proof the events and meetings sector. The GCB is committed to supporting our members and partners in the context of the disruption brought about by digitalisation and that will be my focus for the next 18 months and beyond.

A fundamental mindset shift is vital in order to be able to fully embrace digitalisation with all its challenges. We all know how difficult it is to implement change and without a fundamental change in perspective, we won’t be able to seize the opportunities of the digital transformation. Therefore, I believe that leaders in our industry need to actively engage and work with their teams and partners to bring about this mindset shift.

I admire the Greek philosophers, because they always look at the bigger picture and question the meaning and purpose of everything. This approach is crucial for meetings. To facilitate the digital-transformation process, I am working closely with my team at GCB to spearhead the “Future Meeting Space” innovation network. Together, we’re looking at different aspects of the future of meetings (e.g., new meeting formats, changing expectations of participants), and have just initiated a new study on the effects of the platform economy on the meetings and conference industry.

My time as CEO of the World Conference Center was a transition period. It represented the move from the past, when the building was the plenary hall of the German parliament pre-unification, to the future as an international venue that regularly hosts United Nations conferences on the most pressing global topics of our time. This prepared me for my current position with the GCB, where we have the opportunity to work on the future of our industry. It’s a very exciting time with a great team.

Matthias Schultze is a member of the 2018 PCMA EMEA Advisory Board. 

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