During his 25-year career in the events industry, Richards co-owned Waypoint Exhibitions, was consultant event director at Reed Exhibitions and a director at Blenheim Exhibitions.
Managing director of Birmingham's NEC, Kathryn James, said the venue is "delighted" with Richards' appointment.
"With his skills, breadth and depth of industry knowledge, alongside already well established relationships with many of our clients, means he’s in a great position to continue driving NEC sales forward and putting the customer at the heart of what we do."
Richards is currently working as a consultant event drector at UBM and will join the NEC team after completing a new launch for the organiser.
"The NEC is the heartbeat of the UK’s events industry," said Richards. "After making the decision to change from the organiser to the venue side, the only place I wanted to work was the NEC – I’m absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of a fantastic team that is really going places."
Portfolio director at UBM, Jonny Sullens, commented: "Stephen has been great to work with, I am sure he will do an fantastic job for the NEC. We all wish him the best of luck in his new role."
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