Yes We Can

Last Thursday, I found myself agreeing with a pair of jeans. I should explain: the jeans in question had a statement stitched around the inside of the waist that read ‘these are the days my friend, they always were’. I think the jeans are right.

Denim philosophy: it's in the jeans

We live in interesting times for sure. Lewis DVorkin, Chief Product Officer at Forbes Media, recently wrote – of his challenge to keep Forbes relevant – that: “The worlds we write about move faster than ever, producing stress, disruption and opportunity.”

Too often we focus on those first two. I want to focus on the last. Like DVorkin, I want to “celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurialism”.

Just over 17 years ago I founded GDS International to explore the opportunities offered by a newly ‘open’ China. That company has changed. We’ve grown in numbers, products and – most importantly – skills. At the start of last year I made two big decisions:

1. I needed a new CEO to run GDS International on a day-to-day, giving me time to focus on our future.

2. I had to close one of our founding divisions and drive towards what we do best now – because that’s where I believe the opportunities are.

In both these things, I have been fortunate. GDS currently employs over 450 very talented, hardworking people. Those people grew the company by 40% last year, taking our annual turnover to around $63 million – a long way from the six friends and $50,000 that started day one.

We have a cracking new CEO, who has been with us for seven years and worked his way up; and we were in a solid position – financially and culturally – to close our publishing arm. Today, GDS is 100% focused on producing incredible business-to-business events. Our value proposition is simple: we deliver real results. And we’re very good at it (yes, I would say that – but don’t just take my word for it).

But this blog isn’t really going to be about those things. We want to be the world’s No. 1 business-to-business events company, and I want to run the London Marathon. This blog is about belief. Oh, and the company is in far better shape than me…


About Spencer Green

Spencer Green founded GDS Publishing Ltd in October 1993 to specialise in industrial, government-led publications for the burgeoning Chinese market. The company launched over forty business-to-business titles, was name-checked alongside Tony Blair on China’s national news as ‘best for Chinese business’, and – following a move into India – deemed to be ‘of national importance’ by the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. In 1998, GDS Publishing became GDS International and launched its first conference, Enterprise China. The hugely successful Enterprise series of conferences was rolled out across China and Latin America in the next two years. In 2000, GDS International launched its first Senior Executive Summit under the ‘Next Generation’ banner. This became the catalyst for nine years of 25% year-on-year growth... and 40% growth in 2010. In 2011, GDS held over 70 Summits for C-level Executives from a wide range of industries and across the globe, and eight digital marketing conferences. Today, GDS International is determined to become the world’s no. 1 business-to-business media and services company. It’s going to be an exciting journey! Spencer is married to Emily. They have two children, Finlay and Maya, and live in Bristol, UK.
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