City professionals looking for a different direction may be well suited to a career in events, says Justine Kane
What do we mean by ‘event management?’
The events sector as a whole – which includes corporate events, conferences and trade fairs as well as music, sporting and cultural events – is worth about £40 billion annually to the UK economy and directly employs more than 550,000 people. It’s also particularly important to London, which is the No 1 destination in Europe for meetings and event activity.
Event management covers a huge range of activities, from sporting events to weddings, private parties to international conferences, from the Chelsea Flower Show to Wimbledon, from London Fashion Week to Glastonbury. And, for those thinking of making the transition to a career in events there are a wide array of specialisms – logistics, production, design, food and drink, entertainment, budget planning, technology, security, the guest journey etc.
How can City professionals transfer their skills to a career in events?
For anyone with a financial background, the first and most obvious point is that every event manager needs to be able to understand and handle budgets. This is especially true for corporate events. It’s also the case that many financial services businesses and investment banks have large events departments (and consummately large budgets). So anyone supplying into these organisations will be dealing with people who are used to ‘thinking in numbers’ and they need to be able to communicate and relate to them and feel comfortable in that environment.
There are a number of other areas where City professionals can transfer their skills too. The first is strategic planning which covers winning the business, putting the concepts and ideas together, coming up with a budget, confirming the objectives and coming up with a solution. The second is the ability to implement a strategy from the operational side of things to management, recruitment planning and risk. Finally, after the event there is the strategic post-event analysis. Did it deliver? Did it meet the expectations of all its stakeholders? Was it on budget? What could be done better next time?
Why might you want a career in events?
Something I hear a lot from people coming into the sector from elsewhere is that they’re looking for more job satisfaction – they want a change, they want a job which isn’t all about processes and doesn’t mean doing the same thing day in, day out. If there’s one thing that is true of event management, it’s that it isn’t predictable. Every day is different and there’s no grinding routine. It demands creativity and imagination as well as organisational, financial and process skills. But above all, it’s about communication and getting people on side – it’s a real ‘people business’.
Another attractive aspect is that it tends to be project-based. Organising an event has a beginning, a middle and an end – and that end is very tangible. The satisfaction that comes from ‘getting it right on the night’ is very real.
We find that this interesting and creative mix attracts people to make career changes from a range of diverse sectors including a research scientist and a naval officer. One former Event Academy student moved from working in fund management to an events career. Since graduating, she has since worked for film festivals, Clarion, Christian Dior and private events for high net-worth individuals.
If you’re thinking about a career in event management, here are some questions to ask yourself.
Are you a people person? Good with budgets? Organised? Good at juggling multiple things at once?
A problem solver? Are you looking for greater job satisfaction? Do you have ambition and drive?
About the author
Justine Kane is Course Director of the Event Academy, a training business for the events industry. She has 20 years’ experience in event management and was winner of the IEAM ‘2014 Outstanding Contribution to the Entertainment and Arts Industry awards. She also sits on the committee for the In-house Corporate Event Awards.