Steven Scaffardi is Head of Events at Mediatel Group. He was the driving force behind Mediatel’s early and hugely successful pivot to digital events as the pandemic struck. We ask who his digital hero is.
Who is your digital hero?
After the last couple of years, I would have to say Eric Yuan, founder of Zoom. I could be talking about any one of the creators of virtual meeting and call spaces, but Zoom has become the verb to virtually call someone just like Google became the verb to search.
On a personal sidenote, I would give a special shout out to one of my old bosses from Haymarket, Wayne Morgan, who is now MD at PXC Digital. Back when I first started out in my career selling advertising pages in the trade press in the mid-2000s, it was Wayne who took the time to sit with me and help me understand the digital landscape, and I will be forever grateful to him for that.
What have they done to win hero status in your eyes?
Without stating the obvious, without Eric and other people like him, we all would have been in a right mess these past two years! Video calling platforms like Zoom not only allowed us to continue working with our colleagues, but we’ve hosted events on Zoom, conducted job interviews, been able to stay in contact with friends and family during those toughest of times during lockdown. In such a short space of time, they have become such a large part of our daily lives.
How has their heroism helped drive digital?
It is incredible how moments in time can really define a person or a business. I think as a business, companies like Zoom and Teams were incredibly reactive and proactive to the lockdown. They introduced new features and evolved when we needed them to. What started as a useful piece of software and technology during lockdown, is surely now an invaluable tool in our day-to-day lives full stop.
They are driving change in the ways we work, accelerated important issues such as flexible working, and made us see a way of working with a global partners which means we don’t always have to hop on a plane to see someone. I think the ability for a technology company to make so much impact in our daily lives should be applauded.
What the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?
For everything that is good and brilliant about social media, I would love someone from one of the big social media companies to make a real stand to police the evil content that is still allowed to exist on these platforms. As a father, it is a scary thought having two young children who will grow up in a world where things such as online bullying, hateful comments, and fake news can exist so easily. I
It is great that these platforms give people a voice, allow friends and family to connect, and of course from a professional point of view, have created different forms of marketing and advertising, but it still feels like we have a long way to go to address the negative issues that surround them.
What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?
I would have to say the transition to digital events back at the start of 2020 when we first all went into lockdown. It was definitely a team achievement, rather than just a personal one. It was an incredibly daunting time because as an events business, we all worried that we might lose our jobs!
But we rallied as a team, and on that first day of lockdown, we got on a Teams call that morning and made the decision there and then to go to market with a series of 10 digital events. We didn’t have any speakers or an agenda, nor did we really have the know-how of what it took to put on a digital event, but we learnt on the spot very quickly, upskilled our people, and we’ve never looked back!