How To Build Your Events Career.

Photography by Danielle Macinnes 

A couple of months ago I had the absolute pleasure of co-running Helen Moon‘s EWL Coffee Morning discussion, with two of my co-collaborators and great friends; Elena Clowes and Priya Narain.

As co-founders of Event First Steps the discussion was around how to build your own career within the events industry – a topic which each of us has very different stories and experiences to pull from!

As I said in my last post (which happens to tie in very nicely to this one) I’ve come round to the fantastic conclusion that in the overall grand schemes of things, I’m still only at the very start of my career journey. For any of you who are just graduating, I’m not sure if this is as great a statement or rather counterproductive – but I can promise I mean it to be seen as empowering!

Helen’s formats these events so they incite discussion rather than have people ‘present’. It was very much a chance to have a conversation with other event professionals, and I can honestly say I came away feeling inspired, they each bought a different point of view to the table and challenged points so that we justified much of what we said!

One of the points we championed was being active outside of your job.  Attend events in the evenings, be engaged and interesting with the wider industry. Be curious.


Personally I do it is because I want to make myself indispensable. I want to give something bigger back, and bring more to the table than just what is expected of me.

With so many people coming into the industry, either from education – like you and me – or from changing career paths, there is even more competition for job roles.

Sure you need to show you are competent at doing the job, but being active and engaged outside of work shows that are striving to bring the best, you want to continue to learn – and with that you’re not just expecting your employers to be the ones to teach you. It shows that you’re looking for opportunity. 

Of course you need to balance where you spread yourself. If you’re in full-time employment then make sure your job has your full attention. However work is only 8 hours of your day, how you spend your lunch break or evenings – that is down to you. 

Some people will be content with finding a good job, giving that their attention and then using their free time as they feel fit – that is fantastic. We all have different priorities. However if you want to make the most of your time in the early stages of career progression – get active. Be curious.




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!