In September this year, I got the unique opportunity to work as Scania’s International Stand Manager at the 66th IAA for Commercial Vehicles, which was held in Hanover, Germany. In short, a stand manager is responsible for the stand operation throughout the exhibition. He or she has to initiate or arrange any support needed to make sure things run smoothly and has the authority to take decisions, for instance regarding staffing.
As the international stand manager, I was responsible for approximately 40 international staff members each day, that came from Sweden, Brazil and Russia and manned the stand. Every morning and evening, when the exhibition closed, I sat down with the German stand manager and discussed which issues we would bring up at the next morning meeting. We, first, held a morning meeting for the German and the international staff members together. The German stand manager held the meeting in German, while I summarized his speech in English. This also meant that I sometimes had to translate “on the spot” or that I quickly had to summarize speeches of the German management team. During these meetings, I always presented three experts from my international team to the German staff members in order to enhance the cooperation between the German and the international team.
I, then, held a separate morning meeting for my international staff, in which I checked attendance and informed the staff members about expected visitors and VIP guests on that day. Additionally, I told them, if we were expecting bigger customer groups and colleagues from Scania’s distributors to visit our stand. As the main contact person for the international staff, I was responsible for giving my staff the support they needed in order to perform their work tasks. This implied, for example, to ensure that every staff member had a work outfit, nametag, pin, locker, etc. but also making sure that the staff members felt comfortable and took enough breaks to eat and drink.
After the international morning meeting, I stopped by Scania’s information desk, to inform the hostesses about which international staff members were manning the stand that day. Besides being responsible for the international staff, I was in charge of our international conference rooms. Hence, I met with the catering manager every morning to discuss the conference room bookings. Furthermore, I checked regularly that the Scania stand was in a representative condition, which means that I ensured that the stand was tidy, that we never ran out of marketing material, and that all the technical equipment functioned properly.
The Scania stand was comprised, among others, of a VIP Lounge and a Driver’s Bar. As the stand manager, I had the authority to decide who was allowed to enter the VIP lounge and I had to watch out that the VIP lounge was never overcrowded. Scania distributors from all over the world travelled to the IAA. Many of them came with bigger customer groups. For some of these groups, I had to make special arrangements on the stand. I closed off a section of the Driver’s Bar, for instance, and checked that security staff was in place and that the catering was informed about the visit of bigger customer groups.
I spent most of the remaining time behind the reception desk, where I welcomed Scania employees from all over the world that visited the exhibition and assisted them, for example, with storing their luggage in our luggage room or finding a place to work. Furthermore, I accompanied guests to the conference rooms, when they had meetings with Scania employees and ensured that guests that had a meeting with the management team were taken care of. Moreover, I was the main contact person for all international and German customers and suppliers that were looking for Scania representatives from certain markets or that wanted to get in touch with our technical experts when they had specific questions concerning our products. I also gathered all contact requests from different suppliers and forwarded their brochures and business cards to the Purchasing department in Södertälje. Another work task was to take care of VIP guests at our stand and to arrange private guided tours of our stand with my staff members.
The work load at the IAA was very high, and I worked approximately 11 to 12 hours a day. The first three days were especially tough until everything fell into place. During these days, my phone rang constantly while three people around me wanted my attention simultaneously. It is difficult to prepare for the role as the stand manager, since the main task is simply to “function”, to be extremely flexible, highly service-minded, and to find the best solution possible under time pressure, so that our guests have the best experience at the Scania stand and receive the support they need. Luckily, I was supported by two coordinators, who assisted me at the reception desk and helped me in all staff-related issues.
Since we had just launched a completely new truck generation, our stand was very popular and totally overcrowded during the weekend.
We were all very proud to present our new truck range at the IAA and an absolute highlight was that Scania won the International Truck of the Year award, which was handed out during the press day of the IAA.
Another personal highlight for me as a true Scania fan was that I spotted the legendary Svempa at our stand, who designs and builds unique Scania concept trucks, among others the Red Pearl and the Chimera, which I saw at the International ADAC Truck-Grand-Prix at the Nürburgring during my third trainee placement at Scania Deutschland GmbH. Of course, I did not miss the chance to ask him if I could take a picture with him.
After having worked five days in the row, the new international stand manager from Sweden arrived, who took over for the remaining five exhibition days. Due to the long working hours and the fact that I was standing or running around most of the time, I was quite exhausted and glad when the new stand manager arrived. However, working as the international stand manager was definitely a great opportunity and learning experience. It was fun to get to know so many Scania employees and to have close contact with our customers and suppliers. I enjoyed the collaboration with Scania Germany at our stand and I can definitely imagine myself working as Scania’s international stand manager again at the next IAA.