December 20, 2005
IDG World Expo today announced the appointment of Mac industry veteran Paul Kent as Vice President. In this expanded role, Kent will be responsible for the overall growth and management of Macworld Conference & Expo. Kent has spent the past eight years as the Conference Chairperson where he managed all the educational and training content of Macworld’s conference program. "Paul’s passion for Apple products, his longstanding relationship with Macworld and his proven record as an event professional make him uniquely qualified for this leadership role. We are delighted to have Paul on board," said Dick Blouin, president, U.S., IDG World Expo in the announcement.
I've known and worked with Paul since 1999, and gone to the conferences he's lead or produced since 1995 or so, and this is one of, if not the smartest thing that IDG has done for Macworld since Charlie Greco left during the squabble about moving Macworld from New York back to Boston. Paul has run some of the best conferences in the industry throughout the years, and working with him as a presenter has always been not just professional but fun too. There's never been any doubt of who was running things, but he always listens, (or does a damned fine job of faking it ;-), and gives people enough rope to either hang themselves, or swing up to the next level. He's also consistent in his help towards the latter.
Paul's never been one to hold back if he thought a presentation was not up to par, but he also has, at least in my experience, made sure to tell you when he thought you'd done a good job too. That's one that a lot of people miss, and with Paul, it never smacked of just doing it to get it out of the way. Positive, constructive feedback, especially in the face of some of the rather withering criticism that you can get from a session is something that takes a person from being a little nervous about their first time to wanting to present regularly, and have fun doing it. I know that a not - insignificant part of my reasons for enjoying the work of creating a presentation for Macworld has been the chance to once again work with Paul and his equally talented staff over the years. (Doris, Kate, and all the rest, past and present, you guys have all made the non-presenting parts of the conferences FAR less sucky than they could have been.)
I know in my case, my first Expo as a presenter was New York, 1999, and I ended up with three sessions. This was evidently a lot for a first time person. Paul was really cool about making sure the newbies were taken care of, and checking for incipient stage fright. (No, I had none. Please, me in front of a room full of people listening to me ramble on? Are you kidding? Dude, that's better than Catherine Zeta-Jones bearing crack!) But needed or not, it's nice to get that kind of personal touch from the guy at the top. The only thing now is that since Paul is going to be running the whole show, he's going to need someone to become the new "Paul Kent" for the conference track. I'm not worried, he'll pick someone good, he's picked good people for over a decade now.
IDG has desperately needed someone like Paul running Macworld Conference and Expo, and they made the best choice possible. Good luck dude, and we'll be watching the new grey hair with amusement.
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