Shaun Hinds Manchester Central

Manchester Central is one of the UK’s busiest convention centres, and in the past year has hosted everything from the Conservative party political conference to raucous nights of Bongo’s Bingo XL.

The man who has been overseeing the smooth operation of the former GMEX venue over the past two and a half years is chief executive Shaun Hinds.

Adopted Manc Shaun, 51, was recently named “Manc of the Year” at the City of Manchester Business Awards for his work championing the city.

Here we quiz the dad-of-two on how he got to where he is today, what he loves about Manchester and what his job entails.

What first got you started in your field of work?

I’ve been interested in the event industry for many years and I love events because they are so progressive in nature, always looking ahead with optimism about the future.

Because of that interest, I’ve had a keen eye on how the sector is changing, the effect of technology and the increasing demands of the client and delegate experience.

Innovation is at the heart of the sector and so when the opportunity came up to lead the team at the best convention centre in the best city in the UK, it was an opportunity almost too good to be true.

It’s without doubt the best job I’ve ever had and it’s a privilege to do it.

Who have been your biggest influences?

A few years back, I was fortunate to work for Sir Keith Mills who among other things invented Airmiles, served as CEO for the London 2012 bid and at one point owned an Americas Cup sailing team.  I lived in Brighton for a while and was an avid sailor so it was a real treat to be involved with Sir Keith.

What is your proudest achievement?

Shaun Hinds

Outside of my family, I would have to say being successful in getting my current job.  As a relative industry outsider, I knew I’d have to do a great job with my application and interview to secure this role among very stiff competition.

But good prep pays off, and here I am now two and half years on. And like I say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I love the job and am proud to represent the city in the events industry.

What does a typical day involve?

Bongo's bingo

It might sound like a cliché, but each day is very different. We are shaped somewhat by the events we host.

So some days I’m in political conference mode, other days it’s an awards dinner, and then it could be Bongo’s Bingo (pictured above at Manchester Central). I would say I’m fairly hands on in the job,  not in terms of overseeing every minute detail, but just being around the venue, talking to the teams and the clients watching how things unfold.

Like our events we must always seek to improve. Every event has to be better than the last one and that’s a good mantra to have. Plus, because we are Manchester, we have some really interesting things going on and I’m able to get involved in some of those city wide activities too. 

How do you relax on your days off?

All sorts really. We have two relatively young (12 and 13) children, so they always have a few things requiring transportation for. Most of the time though it’s things around the house and the occasional trip out in our 1969 convertible Morris Minor.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Comes from when I was racing sail boats regularly – never retire and keep an eye on your VMG (velocity made good). In essence it means don’t give up, be patient, be persistent and sometime things change, such as the weather, which in sailing can alter everything.

VMG is all about how quickly you are getting to your waypoint or goal. You can be going really fast, but are you actually getting any closer to your goal? I apply that in my professional life, be tenacious, don’t give up and keeping searching for those little pockets of breeze that can move you closer to where you want to get to.

If things hadn’t worked out, what could you have seen yourself doing?

I’m not someone who’s had a grand plan from the outset. Each role I’ve had has always had an element that’s applicable to the next role, but I’ve been quite fortunate to have worked across a few different sectors over the years.

If I was doing it all again, I’d probably train to be a dentist as it’s one of those sectors that will always be busy I’m sure.

Tell us one thing about yourself that people might be surprised to hear.

I’m not sure anything surprises anyone anymore. These days, with social media we’re able to get a pretty good insight into other peoples’ lives just by following on twitter or Instagram etc.

I would say a few of my old friends were quite surprised when I recently won Manc of the Year! But it goes to show if you put your mind to something, good things can happen. A couple of those friends have said that I am now the most famous person they know, which to be fair probably says more about them than me.

Red or blue?

Red – I know, you sometimes get stick as a red if you have lived in the south, but I’ve been United for as long as I can remember

Name your three favourite places in Manchester.

Manchester Central

First and foremost it’s easy – Manchester Central. Then in terms of districts I like Spinningfields as it presents a new and exciting side to the city, which I know a lot of locals hate, but it’s a side of the city that dispels the myths that some people hold about the city – the same applies to MediaCityUK, too.

Then it would probably be the Northern Quarter due to the incredible diversity of shops, bars, restaurants and businesses that are located there.

If you could change one thing about Manchester, what would it be?

The traffic light phasing – someone has a great deal to answer for in relation to the city road junctions.

What do you love most about Manchester?

I love that it’s both big and small at the same time. Big enough to consistently be voted the most liveable city, to attract world class companies, to be the development capital of the UK, to be renowned globally due to our football, our music and our spirit.

Yet small enough to enable people to know each other, to get stuff done collaboratively, to be able to walk anywhere in the city and get there quickly and to have an ambition which is far greater than our physical size and population.

Oh yes, and we have a brilliant convention centre, too…

What's on your mind?