We need to believe we can achieve things together: Roshan Abbas

With the industry going through a new low in terms of business owing to the covid-19 crisis, Abbas in this exclusive interview speaks about his vision for the industry and more.


Roshan Abbas, MD, Encompass and Co-Founder of Kommune wears many hats--IP Owner, Experiential Thought Leader and a successful TV host. 

Abbas has mentored more than 500 people and continues to inspire many by sharing his life lessons on communication and storytelling with entrepreneurs, corporates and artists.

With the industry going through a new low in terms of business owing to the covid-19 crisis, Abbas in this exclusive interview speaks about his vision for the industry and more. 


What do you think event managers need support in, especially during the ongoing tough times that the industry is facing?

We have all seen losses for 3 months. An entire year will be wiped off from our balance sheets. Government should recognise our impact and contribution to the economy and how many people we employ directly or indirectly and offer us subsidies.

~Provide a relief of GST to us

~Offer soft loans at attractive terms

~Give us a tax holiday for a year

~Declare events an industry 

~Get the government to pay us for the work we have done. This will help feed people down the chain and give relief to the entire ecosystem.

~Create at least 3000 crores worth of event opportunities with Fairs, Festivals and government initiatives.

We then need a look at mental health for our people. The stress, sitting at home when we cannot celebrate that we are best at: the power of assembly, of being social is getting to our people. We need to value our people and reskill them for these times.

Finally, the digital screen has created a new stage for us to conquer. Event managers need to understand how to run a Phygital agency and how to charge for it. A new screen has emerged in front of us which requires understanding of human psychology, interactivity and technical know-how equally. 

Social events need to have relaxed norms. If 200 people can fly in a plane with the right safety measures why can’t we have the same for events? We need to bring the big fat Indian wedding back. It supports too many lives.

How can event managers learn new skills? 

We need to upgrade and update ourselves. E-learning is a new avenue. Each day there are webinars and seminars that can be used. We need a resource centre where we can guide our people. We need to build an environment of learning. So many of our members are experts. Learn from each other.

How can Roshan Abbas create his multifaceted persona for each event entrepreneur?

My first rule is to teach people the power of multitasking and time management. And also working with empowered teams. I find talented people, train them and then let them operate freely. This sets me free to do more always. It is akin to teaching a person how to fish rather than feeding them a fish for once and then going out to fish in new seas for new ideas and opportunities yourself.  

Second is you can be very talented but you need to not dream it, you need to do it. Have a Plan A and a plan B. I've always believed that Mount Everest needs to be climbed one step at a time. 

Be a curious learner for life. 

What are your plans for EEMA?

We need to be a BUSINESS Body. It is time to remove the negativity and the petty politics and bring prosperity back. We need to believe we can achieve things together. Har Baat Ek saath. Events are like a patient in the ICU in the COVID times. Given the opportunity I would like to bring the pulse back in the event industry. This means investing in our zonal and regional presence. Becoming a part of Associations like CII, FICCI, HICSA and many more. Treating ourself as an APEX body that can make this network big. Focusing on events, education and business opportunities in the 20 mini metros and cities. It is imperative to do things together. The smallest member must feel valued and find value in the association. We need to develop our young leaders and women. But by building actionable properties around them. I am keen to do a young leaders award and a women’s only conference. Also this has to be a Knowledge and Value sharing platform. EEMA has helped so many businesses thrive in the last few years, while barely getting any value from it. Today we should be investing in the technology and businesses of the future together. I want to launch a start-up fund to allow EEMA members a benefit from new ideas is a MUST. 

What are your values? 

INTEGRITY AND HONESTY are core to my existence. RESPECT is very important to me. Respecting others regardless of differences; treating others with dignity, empathy and compassion; and the ability to earn the respect of others.

AUTHENTICITY. My words are my own and I believe one must have the COURAGE to stand by them and take a difficult decision when needed. SERVICE has been something I have been taught. Helping build others together.  

And finally HUMILITY. 

How do you plan to help and guide everyone to build investable businesses? 

Investable businesses are businesses that perform on many parameters. An investor asks many questions: Are they process led, do they have the right people in the right position, are they well planned for the future, do they have a unique value proposition. When we Built Encompass we were a small agency. And treated many things with that lens. Till someone told us “Company choti nahi hoti , soch choti hoti hai. Everyone must realise that companies with strong, ethical management teams attract investors, customers and talented professionals. It was this and strong financial planning that made Encompass what it is. Jo chahiye Haq se maango. Don’t sell yourself cheap, don’t sell yourself to the first person who comes along. Investors are not a one night stand but a lifelong marriage. Choose your partner well. Ask yourself the key question: will you like to spend a day with your partner if no business was to be discussed. 

Why is integrity important?

We need to be above reproach as leaders. You are known by only your integrity. Can you look everyone in the eye and say I did what my conscience told me to. Empathy and integrity are such important things in a leader. As my mother says: Oopar jane ki chah rakho but kisi aur par paon rakh kar nahin, stay grounded and humble.

Why will thought leadership be important to survive post covid-19?

When you steer a ship in new waters, what do you look for? You can find many oarsmen but the person who can be both your compass and chart your way through to the promised land is most important or else you will be sailing in circles. Thought leadership is critical post Covid. We will be needed to be represented on many platforms and stages, committees and government bodies will need to be navigated. Everyone will look not for the negotiator but the value creator. For someone who can sit at the seat of power with equal respect and put forward the word of the industry. 

How will you help Emcees?  

I often help MC’s learn their trade better today as the stage has changed and the rules for digital engagement are very different. I dream of a ZOOM certification for a host or MC: imagine their value?  I feel they need to be heard and the Entertainer connect initiative is a good way to bring them together. However, we must also remember that they play a critical role in steering our events.

Why you?

We need a compassionate leader who understands people today. A leader whose integrity cannot be questioned. Who listens to every voice and then takes a decision to benefit the community at large. Who can turn away from the noise and constant rabble rousing. A conductor of an orchestra has his back to the audience and is in tune with his players. 

What is the kind of team that you are supporting?

 People who want to bring Change. People who believe in EEMA more than their own benefit. Successful business owners who are looked upto. 

Tell us how you plan to collaborate internally and externally?  

Whoever is elected must agree to a common minimum programme. This must be approved by all members. We then need to deliver this together as a unified team. Internally as an association we need to celebrate each member. Technology has helped us incredibly. A monthly Zoom call with our members will be a great way to integrate the members and foster collaboration. A weekly show emerged during Lockdown and was hosted by our own stalwarts to showcase agencies. It was an eye opener and such efforts should continue. Our meetings must be run professionally. In weekly regional meetings we should showcase our members strengths. Ask what they want and offer what we can give, behave like BNI does. 

Externally EEMA has to be the industry player who negotiates and works out guidelines and resolutions with Music bodies, Sports franchises, venue associations, stadiums, international trade bodies and country tourism boards etc. I have seen such strong people in our business, we need to make them heads of task forces . Put the best person at the helm to get the job done. Also with my vast network I am able to open doors for all. By reaching out to people. I operate from a place of no ego. And I am willing to pick up the phone on anyone. 

What is your vision for EEMA for the next 1 year, 2 years and 5 years? 

1 year: A resolution to the past issues once and for all and a focus on the government sector. EEMA is listening to each member's voice and making the industry’s voice heard LOUD and CLEAR in the places that matter. 

2 years: An APEX body of over 1000 members with every member having rights they can exercise. The smallest should be able to contest for elections in 2022 knowing this is a democratic body. A thriving body with travel, tourism, talent, bollywood, hospitality, sports etc. all represented in this.

5 years: EEMA international with its own IP’s run by a conglomeration of multiple member agencies and chapters in over 5 countries we work the most in.

How does education play an important role for the stakeholders? 

Warren Buffet said, the more you learn, the more you earn! Education is key for us as we have brilliant member’s with years of experience. They need to teach and learn. An accreditation programme and courses co created with the best members are needed. 

Is the end important or the means, and why? 

The means need to be right! When you look back will you be able to say you led a life of respect, did you give back to this world? An investment isn’t an investment if it destroys the planet. We need to build a sustainable future.  Reputation is what people say when you are not in the room. Use means in such a way that your reputation doesn’t end once and for all!!

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