Benefits of joining an Industry Association


Here is a crazy realisation I’ve come to recently; the three years I have been out of education and a fully fledged Event Prof, is a tiny % of how long (I hope) my career will last. With the retirement age increasing to being over 65 – I’ve got another 40 plus years to account for!

Now, this isn’t a case of me A) looking for sympathy or B) trying to scare any soon-to-be graduates or event students! It is more a moment of joyful clarity, and a reminder that I am only at the very start of my career.

Why does this make me happy?

Well, we all know that you never stop learning – and when I look back at me post-university in comparison to where I am now, god is there a difference! Which brings me on to the main point of this post – apart from telling you how youthful I am – which highlights a space that I personally feel has enabled these changes.

Here is what I’ve gained from being part of an Industry Association.

I joined the UK Chapter of the International Live Events Association (ILEA) back in 2015 – a few months after starting at GPJ, and about a year after leaving University. I then decided to become part of the Education Committee, and last year I took on the role of Director at Large for Education, and joined the UK board.

Why? Because, let’s be honest, it is a far better use of my time being part of something that makes actual changes, rather than solely shouting into the ether on this blog!

To give you some background ILEA is a global association for event industry professionals that are passionate about knowledge, networking and event creativity. Which I’ve no doubt very similar to what other associations claim to be – however there is a fair amount of truth to this statement.

Every single person I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know through ILEA is striving for something greater, they are passionate about this industry – be it that they work for an agency, creative company, in tech production, for a caterer, etc etc. And that is the joy.

I’ve been able to connect and learn from peers who work in a wide variety of jobs and in a wider variety of job roles. And even better, I’ve been treated like a peer by everyone I’ve met – no matter the position they hold from CEO or founder to intern or student! That’s a credit I cannot give to a lot of networking events I’ve been too!

But from a personal side, being an active member of ILEA has allowed me to build my confidence in networking, take on more public speaking, talk about GPJ in a quick elevator pitch style, connect with students across many different universities, and learn about other aspects of the industry. I’ve made friends, gained mentors, built a support network that transcends the place I work. I’ve had the chance to learn for a wide group of people, and more likely build an ever wider set of skills that I can’t even name!

The greatest part, personally for me, is that I have been able to continue learning about the industry as a whole. Spot places where there are gaps and start to see opportunities.

And this all means that I come back into work with a greater confidence in sharing my thoughts with colleagues.

A greater confidence in speaking directly to clients.

A confidence in my own opinions and ideas, which in turn builds a confidence in my own work.

Each aspect has made me far better at my job, and a far better employee.

All of that for the cost of membership, which in comparison to many training course and the time it takes for someone else to ‘train’ and ‘teach’ – is pretty small!

I am in no way saying it is an insignificant amount to spend, but as an investment into your own future, or the future of your employees it is one that I highly recommend.

but BIG NEWS – the opportunity to join and become part of the UK Board is now available! I am especially keen to see some new faces within the Education Committee – whether you are a student, graduate, or Event Prof who wants to help shape how we continue to educate individuals at all stages of their career and at all levels!

Please come join us as we continue the amazing work in 2017/18! 🙂 🙂 Deadline is Wednesday 31st of May 2017




None of the pictures featured in this post are taken by me, but they do all feature my face, and have all be taken at ILEA events!

They have either be taken by the very talented Darren Bandoo or Present Communication

Stop with Event Education vs Event Experience


Photograph by Michael Mroczek

A conversation that keeps happening far too often & far too regularly is the one which pits event degrees against experience!

I’ve spoken at length about my hate for this topic – because anyone with common sense can see that they both have their values. Not only is this backed by the fact there are so many different universities to pick from if you decide to start with the education route. But the more important question is what do we gain from diminishing people who spend a lot of time and money working to better understand a (still relatively new) profession?

When I spoke at Confex last week – on a panel looking at career progression (which will be a future blog post) – and in answer to a similar shaped question on degrees/experience I answered with something I was to pose here.

Why are we even having this discussion at an industry show?

The audience is made up of event professionals and students – each who have a strong view on this topic already, and/or have personal experience of both sides of the argument!!

This conversation should only be happening at secondary schools with students who are 16/17 and making the bold choices on what they want to do next. But even then, instead of asking this loaded question we should instead be asking what skills does the industry need and value?!

We should be guiding the next generation of the events industry on a path that gives them the best career advantages and best supports what the industry needs in the long-term! It is up to us as the event industry to understand where people will gain those skills best & build courses, apprenticeships & on the job experiences which them enable the next generation to build and develop these vital skills.

These simple steps will mean we can finally move on from this over-discussed, irrelevant conversation!





Photograph by Maxime Le Conte des Floris

Do you know what the start of 2017 brings *other than the beginning of the Trump era*?

The opportunity to reflect on the past year.

December threw me a little of kilter, due to the passing of my fantastic Opa, and it meant that I didn’t really have time to distil what 2016 hurled at us!

I’m not going to even approach the topic of politics – otherwise this would turn into a 12,000 word essay just filled with my anger and frustration. I will spare you reading that.  In fact the highlighting of anything negative just seems to be more work than my brain can handle right now, and I know I need a little reminder about all the great things that happened in-between the onslaught of the negativity!

Instead I’m going to highlight 5 industry accomplishments that have made me exceptionally proud (two words I overuse in the rest of this post). I actually spent a few hours looking through all my tweets from the last 12 months & there were so many moments that I’d forgotten about, or had thought happened even further back!

Seems a lot happens in the space of 12 months! This is a very self-indulgent post, but hey we all need to pat ourselves on the back once in a while!

I would love to hear about your achievements across 2016; always great to hear about the amazing work Event Students and Event Profs are achieving – pushing the events industry that step further!

Without further ado …

Getting to co-create and run the first Events First Steps event with two of the greatest friends Priya & Elena. Truly this has been one of the best parts of 2016.

These girls are exceptionally talented, their determination, focus, high spirits are infectious & I really cannot wait to bring you more of these events in the coming year! More than anything the feedback from everyone who came and event professionals who followed online was the icing on the cake!

Another great experience was the Event 100 Club – not only did I make it on the 30 under 30 list (at number 11), I was also named number 70 of the 100 most influential people in the events industry. I just want to pass my thanks to everyone who took the time to vote for me, it was a high note to end the year on!

Speaking at various events. Being on a panel  discussing blogging at events at International Confex was a great experience – although slightly weird to be described as an ‘expert’ but great points raised (worth checking out the fellow experts; Annie Byrne, Kursha Woodgate, Juraj Holub and Jim Curry).

I also spoke to Event Students at the Leeds/GPJ Future Event Professionals event whilst at Confex. In fact 2016 saw some great opportunities to talk to event students around London about my own experience and the work we do at GPJ; University of Greenwich, University of Westminster and London Met University!

Taking on the role as Education Director at Large & joining the ILEA UK Board. This association has created fantastic friends in the industry and I am exceptionally proud to be able to give back to the industry and work alongside some amazing event profs – 2017 is only going to continue the amazing work!

And finally to sum up the great parts of 2016 – it has to go to GPJ. It has been a year of continued development & I am really appreciative to be a part of the team and work alongside some remarkable colleagues! Plus seeing some of the projects come to life over the last 12 months has been so worthwhile!

So cheers to remembering the good parts of the last year, and to seeing what we can get done in the next 12 months!

Don’t forget to let me know your top achievements peeps 🙂