CAIRO - 7 October 2019: In the past few years, Egypt has been the location of many stellar international and regional events. With nine seasons of El Gouna Squash Open, two editions of El Gouna Film Festival, one season of Al-Ahram International and many other impactful events such as The Colour Run and a partnership with Sawiris Foundation for Social Development; Amr Mansi has managed to influence many industries and attract international attention multiple times. Business Today Egypt met the entrepreneur and event planner right ahead of the third edition of El Gouna Film Festival to talk about his perspective and what he plans to work on next.
Would you define yourself as an entrepreneur?
If an entrepreneur is a person who strongly believes in an idea and follows it undoubtedly, then I think everyone should be an entrepreneur nowadays. In our fast changing world, our aspirations and dreams have to evolve to match the universe’s pace. When I first started my career as an athlete, I had no intentions to pursue a career in events; however, over the years I have marched steadily towards a path of trial and error that has led me to this sit down. You do not necessarily need to start with all of the needed skills; instead, you keep working on what you have, on what you know. No one is ever born a CEO; but each one has a vision that he aspires to achieve, it is what drives you to keep working until you reach your goals.
Is there any relation between being an athlete and your career path?
As an athlete, you learn at a very early stage to dedicate all of your hours and energy to a goal bigger than yourself. Working hard and smart is something that all athletes know really well. With that in mind, I believe that the first time I realized the gravity of acclaimed events was while watching Ahmed Barada excel at a squash tournament. That day I went home and decided to become a professional squash player just like him.
After years of indulging in squash tournaments and achieving my dream of becoming one of the top 50 World Tour PSA players as well as leading the U19 Egyptian Squash team to winning their World Squash Championship in 2014, I realized the importance of international tournaments in Egypt and their role in fostering a younger generation and inspire future athletes.
Following seven incontestably successful editions, El Gouna International Squash Open became one of the world’s biggest squash events, which I have managed through I-Events; leading us to organize several other events that support young local talents in their respective fields and portray the best possible image of Egypt to the world.
When first establishing your events agency, what criteria did you follow to stand out from other event-planning companies?
At I-Events we are always keen on developing new concepts and formats as we highly believe in the cultural and international impact our events can have on modern societies. We have an unwavering agenda to identify and advocate new talents in various industries, while our team works hard to connect the local scene with its international encounter. So far, our events, which garnered international and local interest, have successfully raised the general awareness about previously marginalized topics.
How did you manage to transform squash tournaments and El Gouna Film Festival from promising ideas to sustainable running businesses?
Having a vision and being determined to handle and overcome any challenges are two main factors for the success of any project. In addition to these elements, finding the right team and investing in each promising calibre is also essential. In parallel, I believe that attracting and leveraging sponsors is also vital to the success of any idea.
It is an every-day job to look for new ideas, attract the right sponsors, pitch the most ambitious concepts and maintain the interest of the top supporters year after year. With El Gouna International Squash tournament, our main target was to foster new talents and promote Egypt’s global image in the sports field. We hosted all types of tournaments for both men and women in addition to the Masters matches.
As for El Gouna Film Festival, we were keen to help new generations understand and appreciate cultural diversity, through local and international films.
We have also introduced the Cinegouna Platform, which is a film industry-oriented creative hub for minds and markets. The hub was created with the objective of nurturing and strengthening promising Egyptian and Arab cinema projects and filmmakers.
What was your criteria when recruiting your current team?
Art of management entails hiring passionate calibres who continuously seek success, creating harmony amidst the team and working tirelessly to capitalize on the teams’ talent.
My current team, which was designed to be diverse and non-traditional, includes a high percentage of youth as well as local and international experts in their respective fields. This formula in itself promotes cultural exchange; with young calibres bringing fresh ideas and those with former experience bringing their knowledge from different parts of the world.
It never fails to amaze me how our team manages to smoothly work together despite coming from such different backgrounds. Today, these experts is capable of organizing and running major events with international standards; that positively influence our modern societies.
How did you manage to nurture the team’s fresh talent while still getting acquainted with the industry?
It takes a real leap of faith to fully trust your team and its collective knowledge. After finding the right team, you must always let these professionals fly as high as possible, and that is what I tend to do. Each one of my partners and team members is specialized in a certain aspect. From my side, I work hard to keep up with the international industries and expand my personal knowledge in order to be able to support the team’s ventures as much as I can.
What advice would you give those trying to organize impactful events?
The Egyptian market is still in need of unique ideas that can attract local and international audiences. This country gathers many hidden talents in various areas and events are only as impactful as their potential to discover and support fresh talents. In my humble opinion, the key to making an impact on the public is creating events with well-oriented content that raise awareness on a certain industry and educate the public about its aspects through attractive and engaging activations.
Tell us more about World Open by the pyramid
The CIB Egyptian Squash Open is a men’s squash tournament held in the Giza Plateau; in front of the Pyramids. Founded in 1996, it is part of the PSA World Tour, which is regarded as one of the most prestigious events in squash. After the remarkable success of El Gouna International Squash Open, we were keen to spread this sport across the country and leverage on the sudden increased national interest. Accordingly, we brought back the tournament after a very long hiatus in 2016 and we are currently working on the rapidly-approaching new season.
How did the government support your plans and goals?
Government support has also reinforced our determination to shed light on Egypt and what the country has to offer. During the past few years, the world has taken a front seat to experience a stellar destination, El Gouna, and we have worked hard to contribute in the export this positive image.
What are the near future plans?
Our top priority at the moment is to maintain the success we have achieved these past few years, in the events management field. As you probably know, we are currently working on the third edition of El Gouna Film Festival as well as a new season of Al-Ahram International. In addition to these projects, we intend to further develop our ongoing impactful events; attract bigger international interest and shed more light on local talents.