Samantha Rowe: Balancing planet, people and profit

For Samantha Rowe, sustainability isn’t just a priority—it’s a way of life.

Rowe is the CEO of Ignition DG Ltd, a British, certified women-owned business that specializes in the design and production of exceptional exhibitions, events and experiences all over the globe—physical, virtual and hybrid.

Ignition was established in 2007 on the principle of balancing planet, people and profit. Since then, Rowe has remained true to the promise to build a different kind of ethical company, with Ignition being one of the first companies in the world to be certified with the ISO 202121 – Sustainable Event Management standard. Moreover, Ignition is the only events company ever to have been awarded The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development.

“We’re a company that has always set out to be different” Rowe commented, “including our opposition to the formerly-prevalent ‘build and burn’ culture in exhibition and event design. We had to sell in the advantages of approaching things from an alternative perspective quite hard over the years—including at times to clients who didn’t necessarily have an appetite for doing things differently! But our perspective has always been about winning out in the longer-term—and that’s what we’ve done.”

In 2019, the Ignition team designed and delivered 344 projects worldwide in 20 different countries across 4 continents—all with a 100% success rate. However, in 2020, when all live events and exhibitions came to a complete standstill, Ignition’s two offices (in Bristol, UK and Indianapolis, US) had to pivot quickly to create new digital offerings for clients.

“We were in the fortunate position of having long-term client partnerships in place and clients who supported and believed in us as we adapted to create new virtual offerings” shares Rowe. “We hired the best digital talent and trained our internal teams.”

As a result, over the past year, Ignition has successfully delivered 276 virtual events to its clients with a 54% rate of reuse or repurposing of digital assets.

Certified as a women-owned business by WEConnect International, Ignition was appointed by a major pharma company member buyer to create an engaging, out-of-the-ordinary annual virtual leadership event to share their 2025 vision for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). They selected Ignition because they liked the sustainability and women ownership values for which Rowe and her business stood.

“This client was a great strategic fit for our client portfolio”, Rowe commented. “We are both purpose-driven brands and Ignition has built a specialist reputation for providing exceptional events and exhibits for clients that work in highly-regulated industries, such as pharmaceuticals and aerospace.”

Intentionally going beyond the usual webinars to counteract people’s Zoom fatigue after a year of lockdowns, Rowe knew her team needed to be exceptionally creative to stand out.

“We aimed to create an experience that allowed people to connect with the content on a personal level that contextualised the event’s key themes” explained Rowe. “Our team made sure to include an area in which leaders could recount their own personal experiences to ground the important content with a human touch.”

And Ignition did just that. The EMEA Virtual Summit was so successful that the company commissioned Rowe’s team to do several more events for them this year.

“We had an excellent collaboration since the very definition of our requirements all the way through project execution, event management and post event follow-up” shares the Project Lead on their partnership with Ignition. “We had a level of co-operation which was trust-based, friendly, tireless and impeccable in the outcome.”

Rowe is proud of her company’s achievements—not just for achieving highly-creative professional outputs, but also for being kind to the environment in everything it does.