And What Do You Do?

mackerel_4So here I am sat at my aunt’s wedding and every so often a family member will ask ‘so what do you do?’.  They mean well and are genuinely interested when I say that I run my own business and I am an event manager. And some then ask ‘so what kind of events?’ And then the polite glaze descends as I explain that we do large-scale and complex projects as well as training programmes…..

None of the tasks we undertake in themselves is difficult and nor do they require high intellectual capacity (although the outcome does improve with experience). However, it is when we increase scale, risk and complexity that these tasks are not as simple as may be first thought. Event management is a kind of intricate magic (at times) that is the product of experience and hard work. Because it often appears simple, this hard work and intricacy can be hidden and this is where we have a dilemma. We want to make it all work, make it slick and effective but not everyone recognises the work and expertise required to make that happen.

Having said that, our clients who are creative and ambitious recognise the value in our support and skill and how we can help them achieve those ambitions to deliver quality, engaging event projects. That’s not to say that things always go brilliantly, but that’s why we’re involved. If there was no risk, then there would be no need for us.

But this is not what people want to hear when they ask ‘what do you do?’. I wonder what they expect in reply? More than ever, our society does not have standard careers (although there remain some exceptions) so why see we using this as a reference point in finding out more about people?

I am really proud of what I do and what we have built up and the projects we have delivered so this discussion also provokes another line of thought for me – are the wider Mackerel Sky team proud of what they (and we collectively) do? And how can we create a business to be proud of? It’s not just about meeting targets, it’s about being valued, about the people we work with, the impacts we achieve and the engagement of self in it all. I believe that the whole person comes to work and therefore the question of ‘what do you do?’ Is irrelevant because we are trying to create a business where we are ourselves – open, honest, skilled, communicative, positive, flexible and adaptable. Some of the best qualities for event management, particularly when we are dealing with large scale and complex projects.

Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky


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