ISPO Munich/10/24/2022

People of ISPO - Engin Müller-Özer: "This will not pass without tears".

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Engin Müller-Özer has experienced everything in 25 years at Messe München. In the Heart of ISPO interview series, she talks about her unique career from merciless debt collector to wild parties in the action halls to her current status as the "Mama of ISPO".

Engin Müller-Özer ist Community Manager Manufacturing and Suppliers bei ISPO

I was born in Istanbul and grew up in Germany. I started my career by learning to be a bank clerk. But my goal was always to travel. I was always restless. And at some point I thought: You have to go into the travel industry! I was 22 at the time, joined a study tour operator, where I worked on the Middle East. I'm very happy that during that time I saw countries that you can't even visit today. In 1997, I moved to Munich and by chance discovered a job opening at Messe München that I was interested in. And I have been with Messe München for 25 years.

What were your early years like at Messe München?

I started in the legal department. Among other things, I collected outstanding payments from non-paying exhibitors at the trade fair center. So I also had very close contact with the ISPO team. My desire to take on new tasks led me to switch to the ISPO team. Together with a very young, dear colleague, I then looked after three Action Sports halls.

Action sports halls: "Top brands, party, highlife".

From the legal department to action sports - it couldn't be more opposite, could it?

The action halls were extraordinary and hip halls back then: Top brands, party, highlife, young people with their own language, which I first had to "get used to". But I settled in very quickly and was responsible for these halls for six years. It was a wonderful time.

What happened after that?

After that, I moved - you could say according to my age - from the hip youth to the Text Trends and Sourcing department, where I became Community Manager.

And what is it like there?

Pleasant, but totally different. It is more structured, more organized and also much more professional. ISPO Munich would not be what it is without the Manufacturer and Supplier sector. Manufacturer & Supplier complement each other wonderfully with the Brand Halls. The exciting thing about this area is their innovative capacity. Twice a year, we honor the particularly innovative fabrics, fibers, and accessories with the ISPO Textrends Award. These will be selected by a jury of international designers, trend experts, textile institutes and journalists according to performance characteristics, feel, creativity, degree of innovation, sustainability and multifunctionality.

Part of the ISPO team for 25 years: Engin Müller-Özer
Image credit:
Engin Müller-Özer

"This will not pass without tears".

Where do you see your strengths in working with customers?

When communicating with my customers, my Turkish roots and my southern manner help me. I have always worked in service companies. That shapes me and for me the customers are the most important thing, regardless of whether they have booked 20 or 150 square meters. I love my job. I love working in the ISPO team. And that's probably where my status as "the good soul of the team" and mama of the department comes from.

Mama of the department?

I make sure the team is doing well. I enjoy organizing issues such as birthdays, small celebrations, or the small conveniences in the exhibitor office. I think I'm a bit of a mom to the team here. It's nice to feel that the team here has a lot of trust in me. I love my job, and I very much regret that it will be over in April when I go into semi-retirement.

"Challenge is my strength"

What do you wish for your last ISPO Munich?

I hope that ISPO Munich will be just like it has been all these years. Hectic, full, ten hours of work a day, so that we are tired and done, but at the end we can say, "Awesome it was again!" And maybe sometime in the future I'll come back for a few hours. Because I'm going to keep working for sure. But I'm already sad. I'd like to be 40 again, so I can help shape the next 20 years as well.

Despite all the current crises and challenges?

Yes, challenge is my strength. The more difficult the situation, the more I come up with a solution. If you have a positive attitude to work and think ahead, you can master any task. And you can solve it in the best possible way. But you have to be prepared not just to think from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then go home.

What encounters during your time at the trade fair do you particularly like to think back on?

All the people I got to know during this time: Exhibitors, association members, foreign representatives, jury members, the ISPO team, colleagues from other departments at Messe München, etc. Otherwise, trips abroad, for example for trade fairs in Shanghai or Taiwan, Premier Vision in Paris or Modtissimo in Portugal, were real highlights for me. Being able to exchange ideas with people in foreign countries was right up my alley. I like to communicate and also approach foreign people to get to know them.

"We kept going and going, and then Covid came along".

In your eyes, how has ISPO Munich, but also the sports world, changed during this time?

Our customers have always wanted more over the years. We have met this by launching many projects outside of a usual trade show: We created, the ISPO Collaborators Club, ISPO Textrends Award or even ISPO Brandnew for startups. We constantly evolved and adapted to the needs of the industry - and then Covid came along. And with it came many challenges, but also many opportunities for the sports industry. That affected us, too. But something like that doesn't make old hands like me give up. We strive to create something new and incorporate the old. A lot has already changed and a lot will change, but the need for a face-to-face meeting will remain.

It's obvious you're on fire for your work. Is there still room for hobbies or other passions in your spare time?

My passion is still traveling. I regularly visit my family and friends in Turkey. I am a very family-oriented person, I have a son and a six-year-old granddaughter. And I love discovering something new every day.

When I had to work from home two years ago because of Corona, I had to get used to it. It was a big adjustment. Doing sports helped me with that. I started cycling and running regularly.

Engin Müller-Özer auf der ISPO Munich
Image credit:
Engin Müller-Özer

"I will miss the team and my work very much".

What will happen for you after March?

Saying goodbye and no longer working for Team ISPO will be very difficult for me. One thing is for sure: I will not rest and do nothing. I hope to travel and explore many more places, cities and regions. I will miss the team and my work very much, but I think some of my colleagues will miss me too. ?

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