How I Ended Up ‘Working In Events’

I often get asked how I ended up ‘working in events’. This extract from a piece I contributed to in the Guardian is a brief summary . . .

I pretty much sacrificed my Mechanical Engineering degree whilst at Warwick University to spend most of my final year organising a large event (how that happened is another story in itself!).

This was completely voluntary. I then asked the venue we used who organises events in the real world, I figured after all that it must be possible to get paid to do this sort of thing.

The venue gave me some names and I did some research (and this was before the internet was anything like it is now – it was all phone post and paper based).

One company really stood out. I loved it. I wanted to work there – nothing was going to stop me. Nothing. I was also broke, living with my parents and working in a wheelbarrow factory (I bolted the wheels onto the barrows) for peanuts!

I researched that company in immense detail (I probably knew more about it than some people that actually worked there!). I knew I needed to stand out if I wanted to work there.

I created a CV (if you can call it that) that was attractive, stood out, interesting, certainly unique and rang the switchboard and blagged the name of someone to send it to. My father thought the CV looked ridiculous – and thought I was mad, but I knew I needed to stand out.

This was before photoshop and the like are as common as they are now. There was lots of Pritt Stick and Sellotape involved in the manufacture of this ‘CV’!

A couple of days later I was invited in to meet one of their Directors . . . if I happened to be in the area – just for a chat. I made sure I was in the area!

The interview / meeting went well (I also spilt water over said Director). They focused on the experience I had – never once was any qualification / education discussed – it was all about experience. I also knew plenty about the company so asked them more questions than perhaps I should – but it showed interest.

I was now even more convinced I wanted to work there. I was promised a meeting with another Director who was out of town. I rang at least three times a day for two weeks (in a nice way – not in a horrid pestering way!) to this poor assistant who’d I’d grown to know with all my research etc.

Two weeks later I met the other Director. It went really badly (poor research on him on my part). I still wanted to work there. I rang 2 or 3 times a day again to the same assistant asking about opportunities, asking if I could come in for free . . . this went on for 3 weeks.

I then got a phone call from the Director saying someone had resigned and they needed to replace them – how soon could I come in? I was there two hours later. I had to borrow the £5 to get to London though.

We talked some more. I was offered a job in ‘Roadshows’ this meant nothing to me, and at the time Radio One were doing roadshows on beaches around the UK, so I figured that’s what roadshows meant.

I of course took the job. I started three days later. A week later I was standing in the middle of Madrid on an IPO roadshow (Google it if you don’t know what one of those is) with a crew looking at me asking me questions I really didn’t have the answer too . . . I survived. The rest is history.

That company was Imagination – one of the largest event agencies in the world. I am still personal friends with the Director I spilt water over and who gave me my first job. I am still close the whole company really and we still work together in various ways now and again.

Yes this was luck – but I created this luck. I also didn’t give up. And I started with nothing other than some experience.

My advice to anyone looking to work in this world: get some experience and get talking to people – then watch what happens. Oh – and be nice to people!