What's it really like?
Helen Brown is 25 and has worked as events coordinator at Tearfund, an international development charity, for almost two years. Here she gives us the inside story.I got my job after completing a degree in International Development Studies followed by a year-long internship in management and leadership at a charity called Christians Against Poverty. It’s very difficult to find a job within the charity sector so the internship was a really good way for me to build up some experience after leaving university.
As events coordinator I work in a team that seeks to promote the work of our charity to gain new supporters who will donate money and campaign for our work. One of the ways we do this is by organising events such as conferences, key investor dinners and community fundraisers. We also have a presence at a number of larger conferences and festivals where we manage cafes or have exhibition stands.
My role as events coordinator is very varied. A typical day may include:
- Recruiting and organising volunteers (passes, accommodation, transport, etc). We mobilise 200 to 300 volunteers during the summer months when we’re particularly busy with events.
- Liaising with events organisers over our involvement with a conference or other large event. This could involve negotiating partnerships and sponsorships of events or just simply to find out how many tables and chairs will be available.
- Building relationships with key individuals with the long term aim of increasing our presence and impact at the events we attend.
- Scoping out venues and options for events we manage such as media launches.
- Organising logistical details for events.
I enjoy my job a lot, mainly because it is so interesting and varied. I get to meet lots of people through coordinating events, such as volunteers who work for us, supporters and the general public who attend the events.
I find the job very rewarding because there tends to be a short-term turnaround when working on events – we plan for something, it happens, we evaluate. It means it is possible to see the effects of our work and I can measure my own impact within the organisation.
I also like the fact that the job mixes practical hands-on work with desk-based thinking. I love the challenge of organisation too that comes with having to coordinate all different aspects of the event. It’s hard work but I thrive on a challenge!
On the downside, it can be hard work managing the volunteers who work for us who want to know every detail of the event. For example, if they will be camping at a festival they may want to know whether the pillows are feather or foam!
To anyone considering this job I would advise that they get some experience in an organisational role because as events managers must be proficient at organisation and detail. It’s a great job, but if you can’t stay calm under pressure it can be a nightmare. Working in events management is all about working to deadlines and having last minute crises to deal with!
I would also advise people at the early stages of their career to get some voluntary experience working in a related role. It is worth remembering that marketing experience will always be useful as events are often used as a marketing tool. As I progress in my job I will look to take on more of the project-management roles, taking on more responsibility for bigger events and larger budgets.
In terms of other inside information, I would emphasise that networking and wooing people is really important – being able to get people on side so they will give freebies, discounts or volunteer at events is hugely important in this sort of role.
Events management is also great for being able to give creative input – depending on the nature of the organisation you work for you may be required to help with the design of an exhibition stand or invitation which can be really interesting.
Events managers use project management skills to organise events on behalf of a client or in-house for a company. Events managers are responsible for every aspect of delivering the event, from deciding on a concept to planning logistical details and running the event on the day.
Events managers are responsible for the project management of corporate, social, fundraising, promotional and community events. They are responsible for the birth of a concept, the coordination of all aspects of the project, the logistical planning, marketing and promoting the event and for making the event happen on the day.
Events managers may work in-house for a corporate or charitable organisation, for a specialist events management company or freelance working for a variety of clients. Events managers often specialise in one kind of event such as planning a wedding, fundraising events or conferences.
At the start of their career, events managers typically earn between £16,000 and £21,000 pro rota, although with substantial experience this can increase to £40,000. Events managers in large, high-profile companies can earn as much as £80,000.
The role of an events manager is extremely varied and is largely determined by the nature of the company or client and the type of event being organised. Typical responsibilities will include:
- Clarifying the overall aims and objectives of the event
- Generating ideas
- Planning budgets and timescales
- Researching venues and suppliers
- Booking venues and suppliers
- Managing the PR and marketing for the event
- Supervising contractors, staff and volunteers
- Dealing with problems as they arise
- Ensuring tasks are delivered on time and on budget
- Conducting risk assessments and ensuring health and safety guidelines are followed
There are no specific qualifications required for events managers, and they typically come from a wide range of educational backgrounds. A degree, BTEC or HND in events management will be advantageous, but other relevant subjects include marketing, PR, hospitality management or business studies.
Employers will usually look for a number of skills which could translate from a wide range of qualifications including administration, marketing, budget management and organisation.
Once employed within the events management sector, employers often offer the opportunity to study for work-based qualifications such as an NVQ level 2, 3 and 4 in Events, an HNC in Events Management or a qualification from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)
SkillsThe role of an events manager is a highly demanding one requiring a wide range of skills. These include:
- Excellent organisational abilities
- The ability to manage multiple tasks at once
- The ability to work well under pressure
- Problem-solving skills
- A creative approach to tasks
- Excellent communication and people skills
- The ability to negotiate with suppliers and contractors
- Good attention to detail
- Administrative skills
- Competence in IT
- Strong budget awareness
- Team working abilities
- Enthusiasm and energy
- The ability to meet tight deadlines
- Design skills
- Sales and marketing skills
- Good leadership skills
Working as an events manager can be a hugely demanding and stressful job, particularly in the immediate run-up to the event. Events managers typically work standard office hours, although the actual events often happen in the evenings or at weekends. In the run-up to an event overtime is usually required.
The job is largely office-based but includes a significant amount of out-and-about work, including tasks such as visiting venues or purchasing supplies.
Relevant experience is more important than qualifications for those seeking work as an events manager. Employers will want to see evidence of organisational and events experience. It is advised that prospective events managers get as much experience as possible in an administrative, marketing or project-management role which all require organisation, the ability to manage conflicting tasks and the ability to work to tight deadlines.
For those just starting out in their careers it would be valuable to gain some voluntary work experience as an assistant within an events-management department of a company. Organising events in a social or professional capacity will always prove a useful experience and show enthusiasm for the job, whatever the size or nature of the event.
Events managers can work in-house for a large corporate, educational or public-sector organisation as part of the events team. Events managers are also employed by charities, hotels, conference venues or leisure facilities.
Additionally, there are also a large number of specialist events management companies who work for a wide variety of clients. With experience, many events managers go on to set up their own business or work freelance which can be more lucrative, although it does rely on having a strong client base.
Events managers usually start as an assistant within an events-manager department, taking on more responsibility as their experience grows. With experience there is plenty of scope for promotion with opportunities to take on larger budgets, bigger events and the opportunity to progress to a management position within the organisation.