Paris, France – Paul Woodward will step down as managing director of UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry at the end of the year, the organization announced via Twitter on February 17.
Woodward has been in the position since 2010. He will likely depart sometime after UFI’s annual meeting in Milan, Italy on November 4-7.
There was no formal announcement from on the UFI website, but UFI sent a letter to members and Woodward’s lone tweet @pwoodwardhk said the Paris office of the search firm Heidrick & Struggles had been retained to find his successor.
Woodward was based in Hong Kong as UFI’s Asia/Pacific regional manager when he was selected to relocate to Paris in 2010 and replace Vincent Gerard as managing director. His career in Asia stretched back to 1990 when he was a top executive with Miller Freeman Asia, now UBM Asia. He was also the founder and chairman of Business Strategies Group Ltd, a business intelligence and strategy consulting firm.
When Woodward took the reigns of UFI, Asia’s exhibition industry was booming but the global economic downturn had thrown a speed bump in front of organizers in the U.S., Europe and other areas of the world.
The agenda for UFI’s 81st Congress in Colombia last Fall reflected what the organization saw as pressing priorities for the industry, including increased investments in services provided by venues, sustainability and digital services demanded by the next generation of customers.
Woodward grew UFI from 551 member organizations representing 83 nations in 2010 to 650 organizations in 82 countries as of last Fall.
Woodward remained a stalwart believer in the value of trade shows as a marketing tool for companies of all sizes. In a recent UFI podcast, Woodward said, “Even in this day and age of exciting channels of communications online and all of the other ways that companies can communicate and market on line, there is still a very special value in getting face to face with your clients.”
Among UFI’s most recent initiatives under Woodward was the launch of a golf tournament and networking event for CEOs and senior executives of Asian trade show organizers. The UFI Asian CEO Golf Friendship Cup debuts March 14-16 in Bangkok.