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2024: Reflecting on 35 Years

2024: Reflecting on 35 Years

By Natalie Douglas

2024: Reflecting on 35 Years

Ian Greenfield, Founder of Production Bureau's vision, of building an agency that delivers world class solutions, began as a small affair in a garage in Norfolk. What started out as a production focused service has grown into a multi-dimensional creative agency, featuring a team of over a 100 strong, partnering with clients around the world. For Ian, this was always a people business – where Pb people are committed, positive, skilled and great company – people that are part of a team with purpose.

Ian's journey began humbly, building stage sets in garage and running the business from a back bedroom. His career path took him from working for an audio-visual hire business in Norwich, developing his skills as a film editor. This is where his entrepreneurial spirit led to the creation of Production Bureau, a company that has thrived on taking calculated risks, whilst always prioritising the well-being of his team. From humble beginnings to becoming one of the UK's leading Creative Production agenices, Ian Greenfield's story is one of resilience, innovation, and unwavering dedication.

Stand out moments
As Ian reflects on the 35-year journey of Production Bureau, a particular moment stands out. "Our first piece of significant work," he recalls, "was a defining pivot for us." Ian and a colleague were young and eager, venturing into the events world with more enthusiasm than experience. Whilst producing a show in France, Ian received a phone call from a client, offering an introduction to meet a contact within a Pharmaceutical business back in the UK. Without hesitation, Ian hired a car and drove back overnight to seize the opportunity. That pivotal meeting not only secured a long-term client but also marked a dramatic shift in the scale and scope of their work. This serendipitous moment underscored a valuable lesson of being in the right place at the right time, and the power of personal referrals. "People buy people," Ian emphasises, noting that many of their enduring relationships stem from that initial leap of faith.

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Industry Evolution
The events industry has seen seismic shifts since Production Bureau's inception, and adaptability has been key to staying ahead. Ian highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as a major turning point. "Our diary emptied overnight, and our turnover dropped by 40%," he recounts. A swift transition to online events was crucial. Embracing digital solutions, Production Bureau capitalised on their pre-existing broadcast capabilities to navigate the new landscape. Sustainability has also become a core focus, with companies now prioritising net-zero initiatives, reducing the need for international travel, and favouring virtual get togethers. This period also saw the diversification of services, including office fit-outs, showcasing the company's ability to pivot and leverage their versatile skill set. Ian's leadership philosophy—empowering employees to take initiative—played a significant role in this successful adaptation.

Memorable Events
Among the countless events Production Bureau has orchestrated, a few memories shine particularly bright for Ian. Meeting Neil Armstrong, the legendary astronaut, during a conference was a highlight. "Having dinner with Neil Armstrong and Richard Hammond, who had just survived a rocket crash, was surreal," Ian shares. The stories exchanged, especially Armstrong's calm recounting of the moon landing, left an indelible mark. Other notable events include many book launches, where Ian mingled with luminaries like Michael Caine, Alex Ferguson and Mary Berry. Travelling globally to deliver their events is another benefit, with project delivered in Singapore and Jamaica being amongst the highlights. These experiences not only provided memorable moments but also expanded the company's horizons and solidified its reputation for excellence.


Leadership Insights
Strong leadership has been the bedrock of Production Bureau's success. Ian's guiding principle is simple yet profound: "I never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself." This approach fosters a culture of mutual respect and trust. Ian's hands-on involvement provided a "comfort blanket" for clients, earning their confidence and loyalty. Over time, many clients transitioned into lasting friendships, illustrating the deep connections forged through shared experiences. Ian's authentic leadership style has not only driven the company's growth but also nurtured a dedicated and motivated team.

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Looking Ahead
Looking forward, Ian is excited about the transformative potential of emerging technologies in the events industry. "I witnessed the demise of 35mm slides, overhead projectors and I carried a mobile phone the size of house brick. The speed with which we embrace new technology makes the difference. AI is a useful tool and is certainly having an impact on the Creative industry. We need to ensure it is utilised in an ethical manner”, he notes, emphasizing the human element in technological advancements.

The world of virtual events are also particularly thrilling, offering the ability to transport presenters and their audiences to any setting, from a desert island to a bustling cityscape, with realistic and immersive backgrounds.

Finally, Ian wishes to continue his support of young talent entering the creative industry. Engaging young minds, who are adept at handling rapid technological changes is a key priority. Ian envisions think tanks and showcases that open people's eyes to new possibilities, encouraging talent from across the UK and beyond, to explore what Production Bureau has to offer. "Creative technology moves fast," he says, "and we're here to harness its power to create unforgettable experiences."


You can find out more about Production Bureau here