In this Q&A, we introduce Steeldeck’s new Managing Director, Tariq Rifaat. We ask him about his career to date, plans for the Steeldeck team and desert island picks.


What has been your career journey so far? 

For the past 30 years (or so!) I’ve worked in the theatre industry – at first working my way up the ranks in stage management on various productions across the UK and on tour before moving into production management around 13 years ago. Both jobs provided a lot of fun, interesting and diverse experiences along the way, such as touring the world with Riverdance, several summers as a Stage Manager (sometimes dressed in ‘doublet & hose’) at Shakespeare’s Globe. Before joining Steeldeck I was a Production Manager at the National Theatre, prior to which I did the same role at the Royal Court Theatre. I also freelanced whenever I had the opportunity, keen to work in many theatres across London and further afield, alongside some of the best creative and technical teams in the industry. Every show brought new challenges, so it’s been a rewarding career where you never stop learning.

What are you most excited about in your new role as Managing Director at Steeldeck, and what challenges do you expect to face?

It’s definitely a really exciting time for the live entertainment and events industry, as there’s such a huge appetite following a long period of postponements and cancellations. I think the pandemic has proven how much people crave shared experience, the opportunity to be creative, and essentially the chance to have a good time. Naturally, this comes with its own challenges, as this industry has really suffered as a result of the past few years. Hopefully we’re out the other side of it now and I’m excited to play a part in getting the industry back up and running.

I’m also really interested to see how the cultural sector will change and develop over the coming years, both creatively and technically but perhaps at the forefront of any change is a common commitment to become ever more sustainable. One thing I’m really passionate about is making Steeldeck as sustainable as possible. Being a rentals company we’re already halfway there, as much of what we supply is reused again and again. However, there’s always more we can be doing, and I’m determined to succeed in our pledge to become carbon neutral. There’s also lots of scope to expand the company in some very exciting ways…so watch this space!

I’m also very lucky to be joining a small but mighty team at Steeldeck, and I’ve already learnt a great deal from everyone here in the past 6 months alone. We’re committed to providing a first-class service for all our clients, and I’m looking forward to helping build these relationships and developing new ones, giving everyone who chooses to work with us the best experience possible. The great thing about Steeldeck is that there’s no job too big, and so there’s no limit to what we might be working on. It could be a fashion show, a theatre set or a music festival – the variety brings a welcome challenge and keeps us on our toes.

Outside of work, what do you like to spend time doing?

I enjoy spending time with my two kids, going to the theatre and cinema and flying kites. I’m a bit mad into music and love going to live gigs. In fact, since August 2021, I’ve been on a mission to attend 50 gigs and/or festivals within a year. I’m already at gig no 32 and have 58 booked (currently…) so fingers crossed I should just about make it…

What would be your desert island picks? 

Books: A library of historical fiction and non-fiction: Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Conn Iggulden. Other favs inc Papillon, Shantaram, and The Book Thief.

Music: I’m a big into my music and the indie shoegazing, grunge and grebo scenes of the 1990’s. Plus some modern post punk and a whole lot more, too many bands to mention.

Luxury items: A turntable, a couple of large speakers and John Peels’ record collection!