NAME: David Labuskes
TITLE: Executive Director and CEO
COMPANY: InfoComm International
OVERTIME: Prior to joining InfoComm, Labuskes served as vice president of RTKL, now a division of ARCADIS, a leading architectural and engineering firm. He was the founder of the company's Technology Design Practice, overseeing the delivery of audio/visual, voice, data, wireless, environmental media, electronic security, and acoustics services.
SCN: It's your first InfoComm Show as executive director and CEO of InfoComm International. Any pre-show jitters?
David Labuskes: None. While obviously this is my first InfoComm in this role, I am but one person in the association. Jason McGraw, our senior vice president of expositions, has done this show nearly 30 times before, and he's backed by a formidable team of talent focused on every aspect of the show. And it's my third show already in this position with InfoComm having had extraordinary successes with the ISE show in Amsterdam and the Beijing show just last month. There's a frenetic pace building up around our offices as we approach the show and all the excitement in the air leaves little room for jitters. I love the opportunities presented by this type of gathering to hear from all the participants in our industry and experience the networking, learning, and camaraderie. I can't wait!
SCN: How have you enjoyed your new position so far?
DL: I said a couple months ago that it was my dream job and I wouldn't change those words for a second. There is an extraordinary amount to learn with such a broad and varied organization. I feel like every day is an opportunity to learn something new. And the support of the industry and the team here has been absolutely amazing. I've been welcomed into people's offices from Orange County, CA to New York to Bangalore. It has been fantastic to hear from so many members about the contributions that InfoComm has made over the past 74 years and to hear ideas about what more we can do. It's been great.
SCN: How has your background prepared you for this role?
DL: Well, my background in technology consulting certainly gave me a head start in understanding the complexity and connectedness of our industry. I understood the channel participants and their various different roles and relationships. I've also been involved in strategic planning and executive-level business management—both areas that are certainly a part of my job here. I'm not sure anyone can move into a position like this and be completely prepared but I do think that the experiences and lessons I've gained throughout my career put me in as good a place as possible to ensure that InfoComm as an association and trade show organizer can continue to contribute towards serving our mission of advancing audiovisual communications globally.
SCN: What are your short- and long-term goals for InfoComm International?
DL: In the short term I want to see us engage our membership around the world in a manner that assures our relevance in the global economy. The audiovisual industry is in different phases of maturity in different regions globally and we have great opportunities to assist our industry's participants in elevating the state-of-the-art and their capabilities. In a longer-term perspective, I'm committed to working with our board, members, and staff to ensure that the InfoComm International community will provide leadership that drives the transformation of human communication, creating exceptional experiences through technology.
SCN: What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced since taking the reins?
DL: Where to spend my time. There are so many programs and stakeholders for InfoComm and all of them are important. I have been to six countries, three continents, two trade shows, and nearly 50 member companies. But we operate in more than 90 countries on six continents and have over 4,000 member companies and tens of thousands of individuals employed by them. We operate training and education, membership outreach, expositions, certifications, standards, industry research, multi-media thought leadership, and so much more. Being sure that at every given moment I'm focused on the items that provide the most payback for members requires constant diligence. Not to mention, of course, that it would be nice to see my family a bit more often as well!
SCN: What are some of the most exciting trends you see happening in the industry?
DL: I see potential shifts across the whole value chain or industry. There are new entrants and old that are forcing innovation in service delivery, integration, product delivery, and even the definition of our industry. The continued benefits of converging areas of technology into newly envisioned solutions that enhance the stakeholders' ability to perform their mission or compete in their industry are fantastic. And this creates a beneficial cycle upwards that raises customers' expectations, which challenges our industry to provide more or better, which raises expectations and so forth. I think that we continue to enhance the ability of all of humanity to overcome the former barriers of location or time or culture, and are contributing to greater outcomes around the world when two or more people are working together on a problem. And, of course, that need for effective and collaborative environments will only grow. I think that the innovation and quality of live events is on an upswing and am constantly impressed by that facet of our business. And I'm excited about the rapidly expanding influence of regions outside of North America with respect to the evolution of our industry.
SCN: What are some of the new initiatives we are likely to see from InfoComm in the future?
DL: You'll see us forming task groups around the world to examine InfoComm's participation in those regions and identify an agenda that realistically prioritizes the initiatives that we should be taking to improve the industry. You'll see us exploring new and innovative ways to capture the knowledge and expertise within our industry and spread it. We'll be looking toward engaging with other associations and a broader community to expand the opportunities for our membership. You'll see us expanding our offerings beyond technology-based education towards helping our members be more successful in their business pursuits as demonstrated with our upcoming Fall Executive Leadership Conference. And you'll see us examine the exceptional experience and put some definition to that phrase that can make it more clear what's possible to our members' customers and members alike—and thereby contribute to greater success for all our members.
SCN: How will you be filling your days at InfoComm 2013?
DL: I'm looking forward to experiencing it all! The show floor, the networking, the education. Of course, I'll be meeting with stakeholders from all facets of our industry, industry partners, and the media. I have several board meetings to attend and will be making an effort to meet as many as possible of the dedicated volunteers that have made this association what it is today. We have council meetings, committee meetings, association meetings, and so much more that happens during that week and I'll be working hard to share my thoughts about InfoComm's future and more importantly, hear from our members what they want and need in the coming years. I can't wait!
Chuck Ansbacher is the managing editor of SCN.