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!




How to become the BEST Event Student in 2017!

Photography by Clem Onojeghuo


Taking that step outside your own comfort zone can be the pinnacle moment that gives you direction.

Whilst a majority of people who read this blog are currently (or past) Event Management students we are not all striving for the exact same career aspirations.

I have great friends of mine who have found a company where they are in their element. Some work in a small team of no more than 6 people running education courses for one very specific niche industry, others work in venues – big and small – across the whole of the UK where they run a wide variety of events from photo-shoots to weddings. Other friends are in catering, work for associations, have set up their own event companies, work in production, or have joined an agency!

What is fantastic is seeing the many different areas people end up working in. That whilst this industry is small, it doesn’t have to be as competitive as is first described to us when we set out on finding our first job!

Monday is the deadline for the 2017 Eventice application process – if you have a spare hour over this weekend & have been thinking of applying then I would highly recommend you go ahead a give it a go!

I think an area that is often overlooked by lecturers is pushing for students to explore the wide variety of career options available within events. That working in the world of logistics is not the only job option available – although I should add there is also nothing wrong if that is the path you are wanting to take, man my level of respect for my friends and colleagues who do that job everyday is exceptionally high!

Taking a personal look at this, in my final year of uni I had no idea what I would do when I left. I had established operations was not the place for me, but I was faced with a complete lack of understanding from the uni of other options available to me. Where I am in my career is more of a fluke than a deliberate decision.

One area of research that I think all students should take is in exploring the actual breadth of the industry. Seeing the many different ways event professionals have ended up in their current job roles, but more importantly finding out and  understanding what these jobs actually entail.

Now it is all good for me to pipe up with this viewpoint, but where do you go to find this info?! Fear not I’ve got that covered!

Exhibition News have some great interviews with event professions; 2 minutes with... and my working life are just a few examples out there.

Event Magazine have quite the collection of great interviews; 60 seconds with… interviews with Event 100 & 30 under 30 list (why yes here is one with me!)

My fantastic friend Elena Clowes has a terrific series on her blog called Women of the Week which is a great one to go catch up on!

Another event blog series comes from the brilliant Cecilia with her series Make it Happen & yes you can read one with me 😉

If you are more of a visual person, don’t worry I’ve got the perfect one for you! In fact here is one that gives you access to hundreds of event professionals from around the world!  Silvia created Events Uncovered TV and has interviewed over 300 event profs! Yes you heard that right 300! & you might have guessed it – there is also one with me!

Apart from Event Magazine (check to see if your University has a subscription to this magazine) all the above resources are 100% free. Just a click of a button away.

I came very late to the party in knowing all of this is out there – and the list doesn’t stop here, there are many many many more people sharing their own stories, interviews, videos & podcasts with event profs. A lot of people share by speaking at events, speaking directly students at university. I’ve only shared a couple of places to start this homework!

Is homework a real thing I can give people?! Would you even do homework?!

Maybe I’ll pretend that this won’t just be a fictitious task that not many people will take – but if you’ve got some time today, tomorrow, this week, later this month – whenever! Take 30 minutes to look at some of the resources mentioned. Explore your options & let me know if (aka HOW) it helps! @blogbykobrak

Also keep your eye out this year for some exploratory type content, that might fit into this category! 2017 I shall be testing a few more areas of content creation & pushing some aspects of this blog forward!





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 🙂