Alice Lock has more than 12 years’ experience as a project manager in the events industry.
In her role as Associate Director (Head of Projects) at WONDER London, the independent events agency, Alice is responsible for connecting the dots between the client, creative, production and board-level decision makers, ensuring a seamless client journey from concept right through to event deconstruction. Having been drawn to the industry through a passion for problem-solving, Alice’s first role was at a shopping centre, designing retail and exhibition spaces. She joined live events production agency Concerto Live (now Clive) working for global clients including Facebook, Honda, Sony and Virgin Media, before going freelance and later joining the WONDER London team. Her current clients include the BBC, Givaudan, Google and YouTube.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I lead the Project team at WONDER London which means I’m responsible for client communications, operational performance, building relationships, focusing on teams and maintaining profitability. I joined WONDER over three years ago after building a career for ten years in b2b live events. WONDER was looking for someone who could develop the project team to compliment the already successful design and production teams. Meeting the team in my interview inspired me that a group of likeminded people were growing a business together and I really wanted to be a part of that. Since then our YoY growth has shaped my career and I’ve worked hard to ensure that our team of dedicated and enthusiastic collaborators are growing with us.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I am a planner so of course I think about visualizing where I want to be but equally, I fully believe in listening to your own ideas and going with what feels right. I didn’t feel like University was going to give me any value for the things I was interested in. I’ve always been keen to get out there and work so joined the centre management team of a shopping centre. There I gained tons of experience in marketing and promotional events, great leadership from my managers and working with different operational teams. I had a break from events for a few years and worked as cabin crew for a small airline. This taught me a remarkable amount about human behaviour and what comes from a great attitude. And from there, I decided one day to go to London and work in events. Sometimes I can’t believe how simple that was, but it wasn’t without determination and considered risk taking which I still live by today.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Yes, I have always been challenged by work life balance. I’m a self-confessed people pleaser and I think that can be linked to a fear of saying ‘no’. In recent years I’ve faced that and realised the power of stopping when you need to stop in order to get so much more than you ever would from trying to do too much at the same time.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement in my career has been growing WONDER to where we are today. I’ve worked here with a team of 4 amazing men and together we’ve navigated challenges, spoken frankly and pulled together to create some incredible events. Last November we achieved incredible success after a very fast moving 15,000-person two-day event.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
I’ve always naturally thought about the effects of everything you do. That might mean, navigating a tricky meeting so everyone feels like they’re coming out with what they need, working out complex budgets down to the penny so that options are clear for everyone to decide the next step, how working with a team means that everyone’s got their own goals to achieve, and how profit can still be made through honesty and partnership,
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I think mentoring is extremely important not only for the person receiving the mentorship but also for the person giving it. I also think that mentoring doesn’t always have to be from people in your industry. So many challenges spread across life and other industries that to gain perspective and growth as a person, it’s often good to poke your head out of what you do. I have never officially mentored but I feel that as part of my role, it’s something I strive to do as much as possible in every day team management.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
Recognition of where we are today. I’m lucky, I work in an open and accepting workplace which in the scheme of other more established companies, are really ahead of this. So many companies are still stuck, openly promoting equality but perhaps still internalising some belief and fear so that things are no different. For me that behaviour and attitude need to change.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Everyone finds work challenging. No one is breezing through their career without feeling vulnerable
and challenged. To recognise that really helps and can avoid situations sometimes being miss-read.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My focus now is on leading WONDER through our next phase and focusing on ‘looking up’ not ‘looking down’. I think with a growing company like this, it’s easy to get stuck in the detail and miss amazing opportunities. This is going to mean establishing a really strong team and building lots of trust but I’m in the right place to be achieving that.