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I was recently on a Q&A panel at the meetings show at the request of James Hitchen from the EMA.

The subject was “How to get ahead in your career – climbing the #eventprof ladder” and it was fascinating to hear such a wide range of topics covered. Due to the number of questions, we couldn’t answer everything, so via the magic of Slido data capture, I’ve managed to answer a few more in this month’s blog.

If you have any questions on this topic than I’d be happy to answer them in the comments or DM me if it’s confidential…

Q: What skill set is necessary for #eventprofs?

A: There are lots of different attributes I feel you need to be successful, some include:

  • Tenacity
  • Creativity
  • Resilience
  • Drive
  • Organisation
  • Motivation

But by far the biggest is personality, whatever ‘it’ is, you need to be true to yourself, who you are and what you’re looking to achieve. This way you will find a career that suits you personally and not settle for what is put in front of you.

Q: Looking back, what helped you most to get into the events industry?

A: Good looks and charm? Ok so that’s not true, however, a good dose of luck never hurts. I was also very adept at my profession and this meant lots of directly relevant transferable skills.

Q: What’s the best way to progress while still in the early stages of your career?

A: I would lean on any and every form of reference point you can. Ask questions, listen to the answers, then put your own spin on the output. Understand what you enjoy doing, what you’re good at and then focus on the type of companies that match this and target them.

Q: Is the industry that needs professionalising, or the people within it?

A: There are lots of professional people in the sector, however, I feel there is not a lot of joined-up thinking. Too many associations or ‘trade’ bodies seem to have their own agenda, universities don’t utilise ‘real’ event professional who is living and breathing the profession daily and companies never share best practices for fear of giving the competition an edge.

Q: What will the industry look like in 2025?

A: Pretty much the same as it is now as it’s the people and their skills that drive it, however automation of some of the more time heavy tasks alongside chatbots for registration/pre-event support and event apps that do more than give you an agenda are some of the obvious changes.

I also see a drive for more content-led events where message legacy is more important than design and as such there will be more of a demand for people who can bring about a change in behaviour at events with creative content and engaging experiences.

Q: With long hours and high stress and anxiety levels, what advice do you have for staying healthy and maintaining a work/life balance?

A: This area of the sector is one that I see the most change, especially in how people perceive ‘stress’ and its effects in the workplace. The clever companies know that a burnt-out employee is an unproductive one and they are implementing wellbeing plans to combat this. We work in a project-based sector so flexible working is key to longevity as it shouldn’t really matter when and where you work as long as you get your task/project completed within an agreed timeframe.

My key piece of advice would be to seek help and advice before ‘it’ becomes unmanageable, be that via your line manager, HR or one of the many excellent wellbeing programmes run by event professional for even professionals.

Q: Any pieces of advice on how to find the right mentor?

A: Finding a mentor is the number 1 thing you NEED to do if your serious about long-term progression in any industry. It is, however, a bit like dating in that you’ve got to kiss a few frogs until you find the right one. Again, there are many great programmes for event professionals that run formal mentoring programmes, however, I have had 3 in the last 22 years and they sort of came about by accident.

We all have someone we lean on for advice, usually someone who has been there, seen it or someone who’s advice you respect, my advice here would be to ask them “will you be my mentor” explain what you’re looking for and that its flexible and you need them to help you find out the answers yourself not give them to you.

Like dating, the worst they can say is no.