04/13/2021 | People

ACHEMA's French and Belgian connection

always on the road for ACHEMA

Vickie Nikolaou has been representing ACHEMA Worldwide Events in France & Belgium since 2001. Let’s join in on her ACHEMA journey to date.

Do you remember the first time you ever heard about ACHEMA?

  • __I first heard about ACHEMA in 1994 when I worked for a French Laboratory and Biotechnology trade show. From the start, I noticed that ACHEMA had an excellent reputation and had no equivalent in France or Belgium. Even today, you need to visit several French and Belgian events to make up for one ACHEMA. It was also the only trade show recognised outside of Europe and the only process industry event that Americans specifically named when we exhibited in the United States.

And can you remember your first time entering the exhibition halls?

  • __Of course – it had a big impact on me! At ACHEMA 1997, I was an exhibitor in hall 6.2. The first time I entered the exhibition halls was during the set-up, where I walked into a beehive of construction work. The following morning, I was truly mesmerised by the transformation from the previous afternoon: the stands were finished to perfection, the staff all dressed up, often in company colors, the different nationalities present, the attractiveness and professionalism all around. All that technical equipment in action with cheerful personnel ready to explain their trade. It can be overwhelming for some, but, as an extravert, it was right up my alley!

 What is different at ACHEMA today from when you started?

  • __The Frankfurt fairgrounds have been upgraded quite a bit. I’ve seen the Forum and halls 3 and 11 integrated into the show, and I am looking forward to discovering new hall 12 at ACHEMA 2022.

    And of course, the show mirrors the digitalisation in our daily personal and professional lives, which makes for a lighter load – no need to drag a wheelie suitcase around anymore for all those documents. Even the voluminous ACHEMA catalogue now conveniently fits into a smartphone.

And what has stayed the same?

  • __The inspiration to be found everywhere at the show. The fresh topics covered in the extensive conference program. The scope of exhibits on offer. The qualifications of the exhibitors and visitors. The advantage of discovering the process industry innovations launched for the first time on the world-stage.

Is there an event in the context of ACHEMA that is especially memorable to you?

  • __I am very fond of the “Meet your friends” party at the end of each ACHEMA Monday. Our exhibitors appreciate this opportunity to enjoy a nice meal and live entertainment with their peers. Whether it’s pouring rain like in 2018 or we see a fantastic sunset as in 2015, it’s always lots of fun.

    I was also very pleased and proud when my daughter came to visit ACHEMA for the first time in 2018. She is studying interior design, and the exhibitor stands are always very inspiring. I’m hoping to have my son visit the next ACHEMA and ignite the science and technology spark in him.

What challenges have you encountered in your role as ACHEMA’s representative in France and Belgium?

  • __Like everyone else, my customers would like to have a prime location, and they are disappointed when the best spots are snatched up very early. Other than that, the French have a keen eye for detail and are very in tune with the beauty of things; sometimes to the extent that form may take precedence over substance. In that regard, ACHEMA is a very good product for the French public, as the quality standards are high in every respect.

    And then there are the forewarnings I’ve been hearing since I started in the trade show business: that people will no longer travel to trade shows since they can surf the web and shop online from the comfort of their own home. Perhaps this is true for smaller investments than those made at ACHEMA. But, as our surveys of exhibitors and visitors alike prove: ACHEMA is still a very valuable meeting place for anyone working in the process industry. This same argument has gained momentum recently with the current pandemic situation. How-ever, I remain convinced that once the situation is stabilised, we will be even more enthusiastic to get out of our laboratories, factories and (home) offices to meet in person, discuss new trends and see real-life demonstrations. As a descendant of Greek immigrants to Canada who adopted Europe as my new home, I cannot help but hear the echo of Aristotle’s teachings that humans are “social animal(s) by nature”. And I guess we can add today that meeting virtually is the next best thing because nothing compares to social interaction in real life.

Please finish the following sentences:

  • __If I wasn’t a representative for ACHEMA...
    I would like to organise well-being retreats including yoga, meditation and other proven relaxation techniques for stressed out executives!
  • __A first-time visitor to ACHEMA should...
    take care to prepare their visit via the ACHEMA app for smartphones. Not to mention the new ACHEMA Pulse event, which will be a valuable opportunity to prepare for ACHEMA 2022.
  • __I am looking forward to ACHEMA 2022...
    because it will be the last ACHEMA of my fellow representative Alan Morris​​​​​​​. It has been such a pleasure seeing him at every ACHEMA since I started out.
  • __I am looking forward to ACHEMA Pulse...
    because I will be able to engage first-hand in a digital event that shall boost ACHEMA 2022.

Where would we usually find you outside of work?

  • __Nordic walking in the beautiful forest near my home or in my back garden tending my flower garden, shrubs and trees.

What are you reading right now?

  • __I like audiobooks read by the author. At present, I’m enjoying listening to Michelle Obama read me her “Becoming” novel.

A fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

  • __Every summer, I handpick several wheelbarrows of apples, cherries and mirabelle plums from my own trees to make pies, jams and jellies, which I also share with family and friends.

Questions asks by Marlene Etschmann

Vickie Nikolaou

Vickie Nikolaou studied French Language and Literature at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada and the Sorbonne, Paris, France. She has been promoting trade shows for most of her professional life.

vickie.nikolaou[at]achema.fr

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vickie-nikolaou-achema/

Instagram: @achemarepfrbe

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