Print Summit 2024 aims to boost industry spirits in Drupa year - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

On 18 January 2024, at the Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point, Mumbai, Print Summit 2024 (PS24) will host an impressive line-up of speakers who will discuss what print and packaging businessmen should know. “Arguably, the message will be – show a willingness to be flexible. Hearing successful people do it is the best way to learn,” says Faheem Agboatwala, chairman of PS24. PS 24 unplugged in this Sunday Column

07 Jan 2024 | By Noel D'Cunha

All set for PS 24?
I don’t think my team or I can ever be – set – for PS.

Why so?
Things are constantly evolving. We rehearse and strive for perfection every week leading up to show time. In fact, my motivated team improvises even during the performance.

Looking at the past PS, it has got me thinking about the rapid pace of change in our industry. How do you stay one step ahead?
Print is constantly evolving at a rapid pace. To keep up with the changes, we need to learn not just from our peers, but also from successful businesses in other industries. 

How important is print in today's times?
The importance of print cannot be understated, especially in today's world, where deep fakes and other forms of digital manipulation are becoming increasingly common. As a result, the printed word is set to become even more crucial in the years to come. On 18 January, one of our speakers will discuss this topic in detail.

The USP of PS 24 is that hundreds of influential individuals will be present at the Tata Theatre (NCPA). Any special tips for a first-time delegate?
During any conference, it's the same tip – challenge your mind and think critically. Don't just look for solutions; focus on areas that spark your curiosity. 

What is your mantra?
PS's responsibility is to ignite our delegates' minds with plenty of ideas and insights. However, it's up to the delegates to determine how to apply these ideas to their advantage in the months following the event. 

Any other tip ...
Don't think that only big companies can make changes and become successful. PS is a holistic conference that provides beneficial ideas that individuals can use in their homes and workplaces.

Most of the leading lights from yesteryear have simply retired in the intervening years – a symptom of an industry where the front seats were typically occupied by seasoned print masters of the industry’s glory days. Now, there are a lot of young folks. Is that why you have a Forty Under Forty (FUF) panel discussion?
We will continue with the – Lead the Change Series – launched last year. In this series, we will be speaking to three companies that are being run by young leaders who have either spun off their businesses or received significant investments. There is a lot to learn from their hard work. One of BMPA's young leaders, Ankul Nanavaty, will host the panel discussion.

It’s also worth noting that many companies simply no longer exist, having been impacted by Covid-19 or been subsumed by the tough times. Any message for such companies at PS 24?
Yes, those who have refused to evolve have perished. It is unfortunate, but this is also a great learning opportunity for us. Our generation has had a unique chance to witness a black swan event. Many people have come out of the pandemic really successfully, and there are so many learnings from this experience. Surviving the pandemic is an achievement in itself—those who are recovering need to look at the brighter side.

Is there a new breed of print elite, one that is gender neutral, more dynamic, less dyed in the wool and, importantly, one that is used to and embraces change? Is that why you have a "women in print" discussion?
The printing industry is often perceived as being male-dominated, but we want to challenge that stereotype. That's why we're hosting a panel discussion featuring women who have not only taken on leadership roles but are also driving their companies forward. Our experienced host for this panel is Iqbal Kherodawala (ITK).

What is the real strength of PS 24?
Technical sessions are a big bore.

Why do you say that?
It's challenging to make a thousand people sit with rapt attention if you're going to discuss the chemistry of print. However, hearing successful people is an excellent way of keeping the audience engaged.

And the audience appreciates it?
Our regular attendees appreciate humour, Hinglish, hospitality, and time management. While we started small, we listened to our loyal attendees' feedback and evolved over the years.

One lesson for print associations who want to plan something on a similar scale and stature?
There is no one magic formula that makes our conference what it is today. However, having a large pool of sponsors really helps, and I want to express my gratitude to our sponsor partners for enabling us to dream bigger.

How long did the PS 24 team plan for the show?
This question has come up before, so let me explain. Print Summit isn't like a regular conference - it's more of a movement that's always in motion. For example, we've already started reaching out to business leaders for PS25, our next event.

Okay... But how?
We have multiple teams working on different aspects of the event, and each team has a dedicated WhatsApp group where they plan and coordinate their efforts. Even if we can't implement a particular idea or initiative this year, we'll make sure it becomes a goal for next year. Sometimes, it takes a few years of persuasion and requests, but we've managed to convince some of our past speakers to participate in the Print Summit.

Should print no longer be wedded to talk of the glories of the past, but will instead have a laser-like focus on the opportunities that lay ahead? What do the new generation of print leaders of tomorrow want to do?
At PS24, we will hear PC Musthafa share his insights on how his focus and innovation have enabled iD Fresh Foods to achieve great success. Changing the game is the mantra. We as an industry need to realise that. Business plans are no longer limited to ten years. Change may be required annually or even monthly.

What's for lunch?
It’s not the eating. It’s the meeting. That said, apart from the starry speaker line-up, the conference will include breakfast, lunch, tea, and a gala dinner. So be prepared for a long day.

Your favourite session at PS 24 is...
This is so difficult. With the likes of Roshan Abbas, Devdutt Patnaik, PC Musthafa, B Sumant, and Boman Irani, plus two panel discussions – the lineup is packed with powerful speakers. Our theme for the event is "Be unstoppable", and I'm confident that PS24 will be just that. I hope to see everyone who cares about this industry on 18 January 2024.

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