Case study

Events executive — Rosie Johnston

Find out how a degree in interior architecture led Rosie to a challenging and varied role in events management…

How did you get your job?

My first degree was in interior architecture, which covered both residential design and exhibition design. I realised during the course that I was more interested in working on temporary installations and I also had a part-time job for a venue dressing company, who specialised in weddings.

This gave me some hands-on experience, which confirmed my interest in specialising in installations. I was very interested in events management, but felt that my creative degree wasn't enough, so I did an MA in arts, cultural, festival events management. During my course, I did a three month internship with my current company and I was offered a job with them upon graduation.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

I feel that the Masters course was excellent preparation for standing on my own two feet, but it didn't totally prepare me for the job I do now.

Some of the modules were very relevant, but I learnt some management tools, such as Gantt charts, which I don't really use.

I would describe a lot of what I learnt as 'highly desirable' for the role, but there are times when using your judgement and common sense and being able to think on your feet are the most important skills.

What are your main work activities?

I would say that I spend about half my time working on themed evenings or conferences and my background in design can come in very useful here.

The other half of my time is spent on the operations side of events; looking at all aspects of logistics and timings down to the last detail, as well as sourcing the right staff to suit the event and providing them with all the details they need to feel confident and happy about delivering the event.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I absolutely love my job.

Events management is very much a 'people' industry, with a huge focus on planning and detail. There is also a real need to juggle different people's expectations, from clients and colleagues to teams of events staff and suppliers.

There are some very intense times when we are working on large events. At other times, we may be relatively quiet, so it's important to be able to manage a changeable workload. You also need to be very flexible.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

I don't think I expected to be quite this busy. There is a lot of behind the scenes work, and I think I under-estimated this part of the role. One of the most challenging parts of the job involves working to tight deadlines, and having to make very quick decisions.

Any advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

I would say, be aware of your own skills and what you have to bring to the role, which is unique to you. My role has been 'tweaked' to make full use of my design skills, for example, I understand how to visualise a room layout from floor plans, and I sometimes use software packages such as InDesign and Photoshop to create marketing materials for clients.

A background in hospitality is useful; it's easy to spot the people in the industry who come from this background, as they have developed great customer service skills.

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