Advice for the Next Generation of Brand Experience Professionals
University lecturer reveals tips for entering the industry
We’re rounding off UK Events Week with a Q&A featuring Andrew Kirby, Head of Programme and Principal Lecturer, BA International Events Management at the European Business School, Regent’s University London. He shares his advice for those looking to pursue a career in the events industry, and discusses key international and UK-based industry trends.
UK Events Week is a great initiative. How would you advise event students, or those interested in pursuing a career in the industry get involved?
This is a fantastic addition to the annual calendar in my view. It gives emerging and existing industry professionals a chance to integrate themselves further into the sector. This could be by attending educational sessions to understand more about the role of events and their marketing and commercial objectives, or by networking with industry influencers and experts.
There’s a wide selection of activities that take place during the week which appeal to individuals at different stages of their event careers, and I would encourage attendance at as many of them as possible.
Confex is always a great opportunity to broaden our knowledge of the industry alongside these sessions. Personally, I don’t think that there are enough people who, when they enter the industry, truly understand the importance of working with people and the value of developing business relationships in events.
What other ways can event professionals pro-actively promote the value of our industry?
I believe the industry does not receive as much recognition as it should, and that the desire to pursue a career in the events industry can often be disregarded. Naturally, there is a need for education and a true appreciation of the effective organisation and delivery of impactful events, and this is developed by many strong academic and commercial providers across the country.
I think that the different professional associations do a sterling job at encouraging greater recognition, promotion and enhancement of the industry, and that this in turn leads more organisations and professionals to value the role that events play in achieving wider and sustainable commercial success. There is much to be proud of in the UK events industry and it is great to see this being covered by different stakeholders on more frequent occasions – perhaps our voice could be louder to drive home the importance of the sector and its huge potential to different stakeholder groups.
You’re a lecturer in International Events Management so no doubt a great person to speak to about the global state of the industry – what key event trends are emerging overseas?
Event management education is growing in many parts of the world, as awareness of event management as a career path grows. The industry relevance of this education is also on the increase which I am very pleased to see – students have to be aware that the qualification is never going to be enough to gain employment upon graduation, and that there is always a demand for significant and relevant work experience alongside this.
I also feel that there is an increasing amount of global organisations running events and experiential activities in many different regions of the world, which is great news for agencies, suppliers and employers alike. The international impact of events perhaps has the scope to be reinforced to a greater extent, and for those entering the industry, I would offer encouragement to think and act globally as much as possible. It will be interesting to see how Brexit and new technologies impact the UK events industry in the short-term, though change in the sector should probably come as no surprise.
What key trends are you currently seeing in the industry locally?
I have definitely seen an increase in the last 12 months of brands and organisations implementing a wider range of experiential activities and events. I think this is a very positive trend and one which is only going to increase further, as consumers and individuals are attracted to participation and engagement, often through the emotional and psychological connections that are made.
I think brands are now appreciating the strategic and sustained role that such projects can play in developing sales, loyalty and awareness, and this offers an extensive opportunity to companies and individuals alike with creativity and imagination. The development of smaller, regional music events and festivals is another interesting area for 2017 and beyond, as events become more focused and targeted geographically. I think the established interest and desire in music events will only increase, as significant economic and social benefits are offered through the hosting and interaction of such events.
What advice would you offer someone looking to pursue a career in the events industry?
Go for it, you’ve chosen the best industry! I truly believe that there is no better industry to be a part of, one that offers you the chance to work with inspiring and clever people, experience international travel and destinations, and create experiences and memories which last a lifetime. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, I feel it is vital for an individual to have a clear and distinct USP which they actively develop and offer to an employer, whether this be experience in a particular industry sector, the command of foreign languages, projects run through their own initiative which develop event-related skills, volunteering, or ideally a combination of them all.
My experience of event recruitment on both sides of the desk is that a real passion for the industry and genuine enthusiasm are important characteristics, but these can’t be taught – they are instinctively in a person. Someone who doesn’t mind working long hours, weekends, and getting paid less than their friends is likely to do so because they love being a part of the industry. At its best, it is addictive.
To me, dedication, creativity, and subject knowledge will always be vital components, and these enable people to create their own luck and success in such a fantastic industry.
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