Getting the right people for the right job

Last week the Nestle UK boss was on Breakfast TV explaining the benefits of apprenticeships and work experience for their business. One of the issues that they face is that they have an ageing but highly competent workforce and have had a high level of staff turnover at the entry level roles so they are not training up the next generation of capable people to continue to produce at the current (and future) levels. Nestle UK are seeking to address this through a mass recruitment programme via Apprenticeships and work experience placements with the hope that this more integrated approach will develop a more capable workforce who are committed to the business and their future with it.

On the same day, I was in a Fast Forward learning group with Unlocking Potential discussing business systems, processes, approaches and staffing, sharing practice, blunders and successes between organisations in order to
learn from each other. In this group discussion, we recognised (anecdotally) that the labour market is changing and attitudes to work are becoming more complacent in our experience.

We offer about 40 work placements each year with many being highly successful in providing an engaged learning experience for the individual and expanding our capacity at the same time. However, this year I have also
found that recruiting the right staff has been really difficult. For most of those recruitments, there has been a flaw in my process or decision making which in the context of workload etc, is understandable but from the
business point of view is unacceptable. With a shift in 2014 in how we operate to become more flexible, appointing the right people will be crucial to our business success and I still believe that work experience is a valuable means to get to know candidates, see them at work and for them to get to know us and understand what we are looking for and how we work.

Recruitment is a two way street and involves both parties taking a risk, especially in the current economic climate. It also takes time and effort and commitment from both parties, much more than just sending in a CV and not thinking about it and much more than just shortlisting and interviewing. As Michael Rabone from The Seafood Restaurant says “if we were spending £15-£20k on a piece of equipment, we would research it in great detail checking that it was the right thing for us and was going to generate the required return, so why don’t we do so when it comes to recruitment?”. I invest time, effort and money in each member of the team and I now realise that recruitment should be about considering what the return is on that investment.

Claire Eason-Bassett, Managing Director Mackerel Sky Events and Event Cornwall


Keep inventing, keep exceeding


Last week in an interview with the Director of Goodwood Festival of Speed, BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans asked how he keeps the festival fresh with changing content each year. The response was simply that this is what the audience require and they must be doing something right as it keeps selling out. This resonated with John Fox’s (founder of Welfare State International and godfather of large scale community events) guest lecture at Falmouth University a couple of weeks ago where he said that an event becomes a tradition after 3 occurrences. That’s all it takes – 3 years of an annual event to make it a feature of the events landscape, 3 years to make it something unmissable, 3 years to create a legacy that has a life beyond its often small beginnings.

When we create a tradition, an event experience that people of all kinds want to be part of, it can be easy to sit back and happily capitalise on the positive audience response. However, as Goodwood demonstrates, we event managers simply cannot afford to rest on our laurels. We must continue to develop and invent and create to meet the ever increasing expectations of our ticket-purchasing, event-attending public.

For City of Lights, the largest switch on event in the UK outside London, this has never been more true. We have been a lantern procession since our small community beginnings 17 years ago and it has grown and evolved and expanded to become the cornerstone of festive celebrations in the South West. It is a complex logistical challenge in itself with lanterns, school children, bands and over 25,000 people in the audience and, although it is a tradition and a rite of passage for many of the children particularly, we cannot just do that. We are now exploring how we engage digital technologies in terms of production, distribution and marketing, going beyond simply posting on Facebook, and this will present new challenges that will enable the event to continue to grow, will develop the artform of spectacle, and will enable new audiences to engage with this wonderful event.

Adapting to changing circumstances and creating new event ideas are vital for the ongoing sustainability of our events and festivals across the triple bottom line – we always need to find new creative ways to generate a sustainable income stream for event projects; we constantly need to reduce our waste and minimise our negative environmental impacts using mechanisms such as SAVE and ISO20121; and we need to continue to engage the imaginations and aspirations of our audiences. Their expectations of the event experience are ever increasing and it is our responsibility to meet and continue to exceed them.

Claire Eason-Bassett
MD of Mackerel Sky Events and Event Cornwall

Let’s Make a Difference

Just last weekend on Radio 4, Matthew Taylor (Chief Executive, RSA) discussed the principle of city freedom with devolved responsibilities to cities to manage and control their resources as appropriate to the needs of their communities. As he was discussing the challenges of driving economic development in urban environments, I was driving back to Cornwall from London having been to the British BIDS Conference 2013. Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) started in North America about 25 years ago and in the UK in 2001 and, from our experience working with BIDS across the South West, we know that they offer a means for businesses to come together to exert influence and make a difference to the futures of their businesses and communities.

Interestingly, one of the examples given in the radio programme was that of Bristol where Mayor George Ferguson is developing a strong leadership approach for the city matched with lobbying for the financial and legal powers to influence and support proactive economic development. This approach is apparent throughout the Council as we noted in our work with Bristol Playday and in the approach that Broadmead BID take towards supporting and engaging their levy-payers.

At the BIDS conference, the first panel discussion explored the challenges of economic development from the perspectives of retailers, property owners, researchers and local communities and, as with the radio discussion, it quickly became apparent that in order to accommodate the peculiarities of place in our cities and towns and the changing employment and retail environment, we have to give cities, mayors, BID managers and proactive
business people the freedom to think and act strategically. If we as a nation can’t provide this flexibility, our cities (like Detroit in the USA) will go bankrupt and die, or more probably be bailed out by our constantly
indebted national government.

There is no room for failure in terms of our national, regional and local economic development. Urban or rural, product or service, public or private; the business and the location doesn’t matter if we fail to give our key organisations and individuals the power and responsibility to exert their influence over our economies at all levels. We may only play a tiny part in our part of the economy but as business owners, managers and employees, we have a duty to be as proactive as possible, to take opportunities and to work with those who have a vision and means to make our economies work. Let’s make a difference!

Claire Eason-Bassett
Managing Director of Mackerel Sky Events and Event Cornwall

Welcome to the blog home of Mackerel Sky Events!


Welcome to the first of our blogs from Mackerel Sky Events and Event Cornwall!

As a professional creative event management agency with a wealth of experience across a hugely diverse range of events, we love to live, breathe and talk events. So we’re hoping that you’ll enjoy reading and following our comments and thoughts on the wonderful world of events and, of course, letting us know your own views. So let’s get started ….