This will be my first and last post for Mackerel Sky Events. After 5 fantastic years with the company, over 150 individual events (give or take), and countless rolls of gaffa tape, I’m hanging up my clipboard and hi-vis jacket and moving on to pastures new.
It was perhaps very appropriate that the last event I delivered was called Event Horizons: a conference designed especially for current and aspiring event managers to explore new developments in the industry and to share their best practice. The range of speakers and topics covered showcased everything that is fantastic about the industry, and its ability to continue to adapt to reach audiences and markets in ever changing ways.
Taking time to reflect on the event, I realised what inspired me most were the students that attended from the Creative Events Management degree at Falmouth University. These individuals have made the decision to study an emerging craft and develop the skills to become successful professionals in the industry, and as a Visiting Lecturer on this course, I fully recognise the importance of getting to grips with the building blocks of event knowledge and how they can be put into practice. I’m also a firm believer that getting work experience, building your network of contacts and establishing your personal brand are key to getting your foot in the door of a highly competitive industry, by finding ways to set yourself apart from the crowd.
For my first project with Event Cornwall, I sat in a drafty foyer to man the promotional stand for a local music festival. It was far from the glamorous image of the industry that I had in my head – there were no celebrities, no champagne passed my lips, and there was definitely no sign of a VIP section – but looking back that was my opportunity to get my foot in the door and I seized that opportunity with both hands. I believe that success in the industry is born out of commitment and drive, and the ability to throw yourself into a new challenge with unwavering passion and enthusiasm, and that’s what I hope I’ve done over the last 5 years of incredible projects.
So what advice would I have given to my younger self, a fledging projects co-ordinator starting out in the world of event management, or to those students who are about to graduate into such a competitive industry? I think I’d have to say the following:
1. Seize every opportunity with both hands as you never know where it may lead you – the most rewarding projects and experiences I’ve had have been from unexpected opportunities, and it’s a fantastic way to continue to develop your skills in areas you hadn’t considered before.
2. Network – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but networking is far and above the best way to make valuable connections. It’s been said many times, but people buy from people, and some of the most productive working relationships I’ve developed started with a 5 minute conversation at a networking event. Be brave and start that conversation.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it’s the best way to learn from those around you, and find out how things are really done in the industry. But it’s a two way street and be prepared to share your knowledge. Conversations to discuss best practice and share advice on ‘how best to…’ in the industry are a invaluable part of the learning process, and have taught me far more than I could ever have learnt on my own.
4 Take time out to stand back and view your work – you invest incredible amounts of time and energy in bringing an event idea to life, so take the time to stand back and admire the concept that you’ve made into a reality. Irrespective of scale and budget, whether large or small, you’ve poured sweat and tears into the event, and you should take an opportunity to reflect on this. Admire your hard work and the success of your project, but also take the time to be critical: what did you learn from this and how could it be better next time?
5 Enjoy every second – I make no secret of the fact that events can be a stressful and tiring industry, but it’s rewarding, exciting and exhilarating in equal measure: make sure you enjoy every bit of it.
My new role will see a departure from events into the world of Digital Marketing, and as I throw myself into my new challenge, I’d like to think I take some of my own advice on board. The last 5 years have been an incredible journey, in which I’ve learnt so much. Thank you to Mackerel Sky Events, the team, our clients and our suppliers – it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with you all.
Amy Weeks, Senior Event Co-ordinator, Mackerel Sky Events