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Exploring the Events Industry: Senior Event Project Manager - Amy Blades

This week I spoke to Amy who shares her experience working with B2B corporate events!

Name and Job Role: Amy Blades, Senior Event Project Manager

Where do you work: Formerly Contentive, global B2B media and events company

How long have you worked in events: over 8 ½ years

Whats your dream event to work on: I’m inspired by events that are the best in their field and the must attend event within their industry. Web Summit or Canne Lions would be incredible dream events to work on as they combine so many passions of mine and why I love events; building community, inspiring creativity and creating lasting memories.

How did you get into the event industry?

I did a degree in Media and Communications Studies and like a lot of students had no idea what the job market looked like! So instead I donned my backpack and went travelling, on and off with temporary roles funding the adventure for almost three years. An incredible experience with no regrets but it did mean I returned to the UK at 25 with no career under my belt and only a vague idea of what I wanted to do. Eek!

After volunteering for Marie Curie helping out with fundraising events and marketing, I secured a position as an Event Coordinator for a membership organisation and soon found my skill set and personality seemed a good fit to the events industry, so I never looked back!

Whats your career journey looked like up to now?

After a couple of years experience, I moved to London to work as part of the event operations team on a global show for the media and technology industry. It was a fantastic event where I learnt so much about large scale logistics, event technology, content production and all the tiny important details in between to plan and deliver a best in class event.

My most recent position was Senior Event Operations Manager, where I lead the operations team on an international portfolio of high profile summits and awards for HR Directors. A great learning curve in my career where I was now accountable for so much, monetary and reputationally, but meant I had to step up and become a more confident leader.

What would an average day look like in your most recent role?

No two days are certainly ever the same which keeps the work so varied and interesting, you’re always exploring new ways of doing things and learning new skills. Across my annual event portfolio were three large scale summits (UK, Amsterdam and Boston) and an awards ceremony in London so at any one time we were juggling multiple parts of the event cycle with often conflicting deadlines.

Each event included budget management, venue visits, timeline and stakeholder comms, account and supplier liaison, AV, set design and production, temporary staffing, stand and feature builds, sponsorship and expo delivery, all inter-connected with a coordinated event technology stack implemented across registration, event apps, lead capture and scanning...through to briefings, H&S and onsite delivery. And that is why event professionals are masters at multitasking!

What kind of events have you worked on?

Mostly corporate events; conferences, summits, trade shows, launch and invite only C-Suite events, receptions, AGM’s, roadshows, awards ceremonies but also now enjoying dipping my toe into the virtual world, helping small businesses build community and organise virtual events during lockdown.

What do you think are the most important skills you need as an event operations manager?

A good sense of humour!

Strong relationship cultivating and people skills (building a strong network helps within business and also your professional life outside of work to make things happen!)

Adaptability and resilience to a constantly changing environment

Great project management and organisational skills

Creativity (visually and for problem solving) and a keen eye for detail!

Calmness under pressure but also ability to think and act quickly

Delegation and self-awareness

What’s the most difficult & your favourite part of working in events?

Favourite part as that’s the easiest - seeing everything you’ve been working so hard on come to fruition onsite and people enjoying themselves and getting the most out of the event. The buzz you get from seeing a busy session, bustling show floor or networking event of people sharing ideas, reconnecting with existing contacts and cultivating new ones is an amazing feeling to know you’re part of making those moments happen.

Most difficult is when something innovative and so passionate about doesn’t quite go to plan onsite. An example being a new piece of event technology that promised all the bells and whistles of enhanced customer experience and ROI for partners that didn’t deliver, or even worse crashed at the event, and you have to appease customers! It’s a buzz killer!

What advice would you give anyone that wants a job in an event operations?

Network, network, network! Focus on building your power circle and community

Have a strong, passionate and resilient work ethic

Use LinkedIn to build your personal brand to comment, write posts, follow and connect with those in your industry and where you want to be

Get stuck in - there are so many amazing aspects of the industry and no one job is the same so get involved with learning as much as you can. It’s ok to not enjoy or be good at everything, but find your passion and you will thrive to become that go to person

Knowing you won’t always get it right and that’s ok, just learn from it and move on

Has the current coronavirus situation effected your work?

Yes, redundant end-March 2020 but thankfully the government furlough scheme saved me financially

Applying what I love about events to my own professional life - building my community, surrounding myself with my power circle, people I can learn from and challenge me, as well as attending lots of webinars and virtual events to up-skill on my event and project management knowledge (but also lots of cooking and drinking gin!)

What do you think the event industry will look like after this?

I think Q4 of 2020 will see small scale national events take place, following the necessary social distancing and H&S measures but unfortunately international and large scale events will remain virtual for the foreseeable. There will likely be hybrid version of events where live events have a wider reach via their digital footprint (streaming, social media, virtual networking, exhibition hall etc)

Ultimately what this period has shown us is that as amazing as technology is, it will never ever replace F2F events and the importance of live experiences. People crave human interaction. But tech plays an increasingly important part in supporting the endeavours to strengthen communities, facilitate business and provide a more engaging customer experience either side of the event.

Connect with me on LinkedIn @AmyBlades


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