When it comes to breaking into event management, every company you work for, or with, can influence your professional progress and personal ideas about your career path. This can make it hard to know the best places for getting started and of course it may then be even harder to get taken on, as the competition for event roles in top companies is usually pretty tough. What might help though, is a little insider advice from four Event Academy industry experts, about exploring your options for getting the right company alongside your event management career …
- Working in-house for a company or brand – useful experience!
Being employed by a company or brand, even on an internship, may be a useful way of fact-finding – both about working in-house and about specific events, as Martin Turner, Senior Lecturer at Event Academy explains: “large companies (corporates) usually have systems, processes, procedures, and regulations to follow.” As such, in-house employment or work-experience from any company can inform both your knowledge and your outlook about company working and the events industry.
- Working with a range of companies – and agencies!
However, whilst it’s important to gain this knowledge, Martin then explains how this kind of work shouldn’t be restricted to working inside just one company, but instead expanded by trying several, potentially through working in-house or from the outside-in, through an agency: “If you then switch to working for an Event Agency you have a deeper knowledge of how corporates work, the time frames for approvals, and a more sensitive approach to company messaging” for example.
Martin’s colleague, Lorne Armstrong, Director of Event Academy, agrees that it’s wise to diversify, even when working within a specific corporation: “corporates may be a bit of a narrow channel because they could be a museum, a sports academy or have their own venue. But event managers can slot into many different roles, it’s not just corporate companies and event agencies, there are many other different channels for you to work in.”
Lorne also advises that event managers with specific events skills, such as digital expertise, could initially approach agencies as a way to gain a foot in the door with those corporations who popularly run such events: “there are events agencies, marketing agencies and digital agencies who employ event managers to work for corporates or other organisations to bring those events to life.”
This approach of working with a range of companies through an agency is something which has benefited freelance Production and Content Manager Chirag Patel, who acknowledges the role agencies have played in giving him corporate experience: “I’ve worked with The Live Firm, Harvey Goldsmiths, Freeman XP, Create Live, Jam Events to name just a few, across a variety of different events – no two jobs have ever been the same. Working for the different agencies has allowed me to build my network and gain valuable experience.”
- Companies with an interest in running specific types of events – including large, live events
Whether through an agency, training with, or being directly employed by a corporation, exploring working for companies which have a particular interest in running specific event types could be valuable for would-be event managers.
Justine Kane, Course Director at Event Academy describes how massive companies such as EE use event managers, including trainee event managers, to help with the delivery of their own events, even within other events, such as the EE venue in 2017’s Glastonbury Festival: “they want to have a whole new look and feel whilst they’re there, they want to have a whole new 4G presence there, so they ask our trainee event managers to come up with the ideas.”
And it’s these large, live events, with a heartbeat of digital marketing, which are proving to be one of those special interest areas which offer those would-be event managers who’ve had early success in this sector a route into corporation careers – and salaries! As Lorne explains: “ brands recognise that the live delivery of their experience, to customers or to other organisations, is a really crucial bit of the marketing mix. Obviously a digital marketing piece is massive but at some point you need to bring that to life in a live, face-to-face way, either for your customers or for your employees. So most companies are now employing someone who understands how to deliver these live experiences in a professional way, rather than just someone in the team who ends up just booking a hotel.”
- Companies looking for additional creativity
When a corporation, company or brand is looking to launch a live event – whether a ‘run-of-the-mill’ live delegate conference or a sponsorship spot at a national or international event – another key thing these companies demand is creativity.
Justine also shares how Event Academy, who have worked with major companies, including EE, Nissan, The Red Cross and Unicef, helps would-be event managers find their feet with corporate creativity – through careful matchmaking: “it’s our job to place them [event management students] across the industry, so we work really hard to match them up with an area of events that they are particularly interested in as well as matching them up with a company that they are the right fit for, so we work with lots of different companies at lots of different levels.”
- Companies which feature freelancers
According to Lorne, freelancers are also starting to feature as “more and more companies are using a professional event manager, rather than someone in their team to do an event.”
Martin Turner has also observed this shift, not only within individual corporations but also in major sectors such as Investment Banking, which increasingly look beyond in-house marketing teams for event delivery: “In-house teams often work with external suppliers to help deliver their events and they’re now looking more at an outsourced model of event management teams, with companies like FIRST Global Agency, whose event managers are in place at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.”
This way of working is becoming increasingly popular – largely because a range of freelancers can offer a range of skills, creativity and experience that an average in-house event management team can’t necessarily deliver and, as Chirag succinctly observes “no one can afford to have everyone on their payroll!” In fact, in his own experience, this has been extremely advantageous to his event management career: “I can get to pick working for different companies and be different things to different companies”
- Companies looking for new talent and new ideas to take their events to the next level
To have an impact, every company wants to be able to offer what’s next and best in events and one of the surest ways to do this is to nurture new talent. Working with companies who are looking for “the next best …” in event talent can be a great way into a career for new event managers.
Overall then, being new to event management shouldn’t necessarily mean your corporate options are limited to those companies you could work for, but should also be explored in the context of who might be looking for what you offer, whether that’s being a new event manager to work with, an event manager with a specific skill set, or an event manager who’s highly adaptable and creative to give an extra boost to an in-house team. In the experience of our experts, all these options and more could be available to skilled event managers, however newly qualified, who wish to work with large companies.