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Industry Q&A: Event Management with Emma Stevens

Marketing and Events Coordinator

Editor's note: Upskilled is currently not taking enrolments for Event Management. Please contact us on 1300 009 924 to discuss other course options.

In 2016, we did an industry profile with Emma Stevens and discussed about her experience in the events industry. In this Q&A, she tells us what her job involves as Marketing and Events Coordinator, the skills needed to be a successful events professional and her advice to those wanting to make their mark in events.

What does your job involve?

I’m a marketing and event coordinator and I’m involved with the day-to-day delivery of events for our clients and staff. I put on a variety of things, from boardroom lunches to information sessions and cocktail parties. And sometimes we host special guests.

You’re currently employed with EY. Was that your first position in events?

No, my first job after I finished studying was as an event coordinator with a cruise company.

Could you run us through an average day on the job – if there is such a thing?

There’s not really such a thing as an average day, but I guess if I was working on an event – well – if it wasn’t the actual day of the event – I’d get to work, check my emails, talk with the corporate hospitality team, order some catering, check on our RSVPs, maybe make an invitation for another event. Then I might talk with some key stakeholders, perhaps with the partners of the firm, about different events coming up.I might also attend a number of meetings regarding different strategies for the year ahead.

If it was the day of an event I might liaise with the styling team and make sure they’re okay to set up, help set up the event room to make sure it’s how I like it, and check that catering is ready to go. And then there’s registration. When guests arrive I greet them and provide name tags, if necessary. Potentially I go into the event to make sure everything is going okay.
beautiful dining arrangement with flowers

That sounds like a lot of networking and organising.

Definitely. It’s very people heavy so if you don’t like people it’s the wrong industry to be in. There’s a lot of talking to people and finding out what people want to achieve from an event. You don’t just throw events for the sake of it.

You’ve mentioned people skills, but what other skills do you need to succeed?

You need to be organised and have good time management skills because you’re working to a lot of deadlines. At the events you need everything to be ordered and ready to go. Attention to detail helps a lot; you don’t want to overlook any parts of the event.

And generally you have to be a positive person because things always go wrong! You have to be able to handle that in a positive way, especially when there are clients around.

Could you give us an example of something going wrong and the solution you came up with?

That’s putting me on the spot! I was doing a major event in Melbourne and our venue had overbooked and let people into our area. We couldn’t set up for our event and our guests were coming back for lunch. We had another smaller area available so we moved the food and drinks there and used it as a holding room until we found a suitable time to move the event back into the main room.

Prior to getting your initial role at the cruise company, were you looking for a role in event management or did you simply meet the right people at the right time?

I have a degree in marketing and a certificate in events management, so I guess I was looking for something in marketing initially. But I do love planning events. I always did it socially and throughout school. So I was looking for a role that would allow me to plan but also allow for a lot of engagement with people and customers.

Was it tough trying to get that first opportunity?

Yes, it was. There’s a lot of competition – people want to be event planners. There are also a lot of different paths now. You don’t have to go to university. For instance, you can do an Upskilled course. A lot of people are heading down this path because it is so accessible. You have to set yourself apart from the rest and it’s not easy. Job hunting is never easy.

What’s the best advice you’d give someone aspiring to be an event planner?

Definitely get as much hands-on experience as you can, whether it’s from volunteering at a fun run, or helping out with a friend’s party. If you’re at school, get involved with the formal committee – anything where you can start to understand the organisation that’s involved and have experience in organising events, be they large or small in scale.
dinner table set up

What are the best and the most challenging things about being in events?

The best is when you look around the room and everyone is smiling and laughing and having a good time without a care in the world. That’s when you know you’ve put on a good event. So I guess client satisfaction is the ultimate goal.

The most challenging element is pleasing everyone. And you have to remember that you can’t please everyone. You might have what you think is the perfect event, but someone will say something negative about it. And that’s just the way it is, and that comes back to that positive attitude and rolling with the punches.

Moving forward with event management in general, can you see any big trends on the horizon that people entering the industry should know about?

I guess it depends what industry you want to go into. For me, I’m in professional services so it’s quite different compared with someone going into another area. It’s not so much that there are trends in the events industry like there are trends in the labour market generally. Events are never going to go away. People like to engage with one another through events so it’s a safe area of employment.

Want to be an Events Planner like Emma?

We offer courses in events, where you will receive training and develop skills needed in the industry. These courses can help you achieve career outcomes such as event coordinator, event planner and more.

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