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Austen Hawkins and Darren Johnson Voted in as new Chair and Vice Chair of AEO

The AEO Council has officially elected Austen Hawkins, managing director of f2f events, as the next Chair of the Association of Event Organisers. The election, which took place at the AEO Council meeting held on 5th September in Brighton, also sees Darren Johnson, chief executive officer of Reed Exhibitions UK, become Vice Chair. Former Chair Damion Angus will now assume the role of Past Chair for the forthcoming year.

Austen Hawkins says: “The AEO of today is highly developed from the AEO that existed when I first joined the Council in 2011. The needs and profile of AEO membership has advanced significantly and this is reflected in the breadth of services and value the association is now delivering back. I’ve heard members say countless times that their investment in time and budget has been repaid many times over from being in membership and each time it’s for a different reason. During my year as Chair, I’d like to see this sentiment extended to each and every level within member companies – from chairs and CEOs to portfolio directors and execs; because the AEO has so much to offer everyone!

“The AEO now has such a clear purpose for the events industry with objectives under its four pillars: Community, Insight, Representation and Talent, that satisfy this diverse membership. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the talent programme that Damion’s spearheaded come to fruition and I’m hoping to blend in some fun for the “Leaders of Tomorrow” under Community. Last year I also mentioned that I’m particularly interested in insight and making sure that all action has robust research behind it. Strong progress is already being made in this area particularly on the Salary Survey, which has been expanded to include conference roles, but there’s still lots more to do, so that’s definitely on my to do list!

Chris Skeith, chief executive of AEO, says: “We’ve had another extremely progressive and productive year which is testament to how well the AEO Council is leading the association. Much of our focus comes out of the Working Groups we hold, so without input from members across the different functions, whether that’s finance, HR, marketing, ops, sales or security, we wouldn’t be able to successfully respond to or support members in the way we have this past year. With this in mind, I’d like to personally thank Damion Angus for chairing the association so diligently, he has supported the groups, team and myself magnificently helping us all to progress AEO’s strategy, and we’re delighted he will continue to be heavily involved as Past Chair going into next year.”

To find out further information about the AEO please visit the website and follow us on Twitter @aeonews

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For further information please contact:
Jenni Jaques, Marketing Director
Association of Event Organisers (AEO)
119 High Street, Berkhamsted, Herts, HP4 2DJ
Tel: 01442 285814 email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


About Association of Event Organisers (AEO)
Association of Event Organisers (AEO) is the trade body representing companies, which conceive, create, develop or manage trade and consumer events. It is run by its members for the benefit of its members through an elected council of representatives, specialist working groups and a fulltime secretariat.

Our aim is to be the voice of the event organising industry, to serve the collective needs of event organisers and to promote the interests of our members and the industry at large. AEO membership enables organisers to work with members of its sister organisations, Association of Event Venues (AEV) and Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA).
For more information please visit

About Austen Hawkins
Austen Hawkins started his career as an insurance broker before, at the age of 23, joining the Audit Bureau of Circulations where he launched the exhibition auditing scheme; later becoming Group Head of Sales and Marketing.

At 30 he joined the Association of Exhibition Organisers (AEO) as Deputy CEO, later becoming CEO, during which time the association revenues grew 20 fold. In 2004, Austen launched his own exhibition company, f2f events Ltd. 13 years later, f2f events now runs consumer and trade exhibitions, conferences, awards, seminars and other events.