I was forewarned in my interview that I would hit the ground running, and I definitely hit it hard, but it was a fun and rewarding challenge. In this job you have to thrive on being dynamic, be able to think on your feet, pre-empt and anticipate snags. In my first week I realised that my handbook was not a job bible and the only way to learn was to get stuck into negotiating, arranging deadlines and using my own initiative. I had a lot of responsibility from day 1, and it was quite daunting but I’m lucky to work with such a supportive and fun team and I’ve been able to put together some great conferences. In fact, I’m pretty sure that obsolete handbook is gathering dust somewhere under my desk…
One of the perks of the job is being able to travel around the world, but let me be the first to tell you this is not as glamorous as it sounds! I’ve put shows out to Europe, the US, the Middle East and Russia and have had to go onsite to quite a few conferences – but by the time I’ve arrived slightly jet lagged, checked the venue and conference rooms, helped exhibitors set up, set up the conference material and registration desk and managed a full 2 day conference – it’s a tight fit to arrange sightseeing to the Burj Al Arab in Dubai or visit the casinos along the Vegas strip!
Yes, it is exasperating when your deadlines are pushed, and even beautifully planned events can go wrong (like having customs in Mexico turning away the conference shipping because of pritt stick and pencils – yes that did happen!). In order to be successful you have be able to work under pressure – the pressure of sticking to deadlines, negotiating with suppliers, meeting budgets, keeping the conference organisers happy, and address every problem that occurs. The preparation involved in putting together the event is certainly the most challenging part of the job, but it’s very rewarding when a conference is successful. FC is a great environment to work in as we all encourage and support each other.
Ultimately the event co-ordinators job is to calmly, methodically and effectively deal with problems while everyone else around you starts pulling their hair out! Working with people in different countries and learning their customs and business etiquette keeps the job exciting and challenging; I’m currently working on a show in Mexico City and organizing the exhibition for the huge event in Barcelona, as well as thinking ahead to the events I’m putting on next month. And even once the conference has finished, it is only well and truly over for me when all is packed up, the equipment is back in the office, suppliers have been paid and all final ends tied up.