Marija Erzen has been elected as Chair and Rob Brackstone as Vice Chair of ESSA – the trade body representing the best contractor and suppliers to the UK events industry.

Marija will be taking over from outgoing chair Lou Kiwanuka and will be utilising her significant 30 years of experience working in the sector to benefit the membership. She is a firm believer in the importance of an association, opting to become a founding ESSA member and part of its board in 2019. As co-owner and director of design and build company Solutions2, Marija provides a significant voice for the 45% of design and build contractors and privately owned SME ESSA members.

Talking about her vision for the future of ESSA, Marija said: “The association has taken great strides in the past two years under Lou’s steady hand, setting us on a very strong course of continued improvement. We have seen the launch of numerous fantastic initiatives and have made significant headway regarding our representation within Government, and I am committed to keeping this momentum going.

“A standout feature has been the wonderful sense of community amongst members which particularly came to the fore during Covid-19. Our key role is to retain and nurture this as it is, without doubt, one of the most significant benefits of membership. Membership growth is also high on my list of priorities and that works in tandem with ESSA’s ‘Refer a Member’ and ‘Use an ESSA Member’ schemes, both of which I am a huge advocate. I look forward to working with Rob, the ESSA Board and the secretariat to cultivate our strong and united voice.”

Supporting Marija will be Rob Brackstone, managing director of design and build contractor ESM. Since 2005, Rob has worked with global marketing teams and exhibitors gaining a unique understanding of the importance of suppliers and services to generate growth for businesses, communities and the country as a whole. This insight has only served to reinforce how undervalued he believes the work of the industry is, and the scale of the task required to change opinions and mindsets for the better within the industry and at government level.

Since joining the ESSA board in 2021, Rob has worked hard to fulfil its ambition of bringing businesses together to listen and learn from each other, share successes, communicate challenges and better explain the value of event suppliers and services to create a stronger and more robust future for all. While significant strides have been made, Rob is keen to continue the growth of a cohesive and unified community of members within the association.

On his appointment, Rob said: “I’m still pinching myself that I’ve been elected as Vice Chair of ESSA, but I’m confident that my beliefs and values will help support Marija as she continues to bring something unique to the board. In particular, I want to support the association in advancing its excellent work to date providing leadership to our businesses and within the industry to help them realise their full potential.

“I want us to shout from rooftops about our members’ success stories across many different fields and celebrate their unique work, all of which is delivered to exceptionally high standards on a global scale. We need to continue shining a light on the benefits that our work provides to the global economy to offer real clarity and value regarding who we are, what we do and how we do it.”

ESSA director, Andrew Harrison, said: “Marija and Rob’s long history of leadership, coupled with their extensive industry experience, make them the ideal candidates. I look forward to working closely with them to ensure ESSA continues to make a positive impact for our members and the wider events industry.”


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The Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) is a trade body representing the very best contractors and suppliers of goods and services to the UK’s thriving events industry.

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