Although Andrew Evans believes you shouldn't work on your birthday, the managing director of exhibition organiser Fresh RM is doing just that. Worse, I'm interviewing him on his 40th. But as head of the business behind this year's massive International Food & Drink Exhibition (IFE) show at ExCel in London's Docklands, the reality is he's always available if needed.
"I have a great team, so the calls on my private time have lessened, but there are always business partners around the world who occasionally forget what time it is here and call. It's part of the job."
Not that Evans is unhappy with his lot. His role generally requires 50-55 hours a week in the office - although this increases in the run-up to big shows, such as last year's Hotelympia - so he views his hours as luxurious compared with most jobs in hospitality. His actual role is one of strategy and planning, and he approaches projects in a methodical and analytical manner which has earned him the description of a "frustrated general" in the past.
Planning started 20 months ago for the biennial IFE, which this year starts on Sunday (13 March), bringing together 150 food companies, Caterer's own Chef@IFE demonstration theatre, exhibitors from 43 countries and an expected 26,000 visitors.
Evans says the main thing that has changed since he joined the sector in 1986 with Montgomery Exhibitions is that it's no longer enough to simply have a hall full of exhibitors. Today's events are becoming ever closer to commercial shows, providing a business environment but also entertainment for show-goers.
Originally working as a salesman for a coffee supplier, Evans was headhunted six months after he impressed a show director at an event he was attending. By 22 he was project leader at Montgomery - a baptism of fire that nevertheless taught him a huge amount about marketing shows.
In 1996 he joined the board at Brintex, organiser of the London International Wine and Spirits Fair, and directed a number of events covering everything from traffic engineering to lingerie.
In 2003 he joined Fresh RM, the Reed Exhibitions/Montgomery joint venture, lured by the blockbuster appeal of shows such as IFE.
Inevitably, having been in the industry for so long, he concedes he has become wed to it, giving his all but receiving huge satisfaction in return once exhibition day rolls around. Evans says his role can occasionally be frustrating because he's removed from the coalface, but he's finally learnt the trick of delegating to his team.
Joins Montgomery Exhibitions
Moves to Brintex
Managing director at Fresh RM