A Day in the Life of an Event Coordinator
We sat down with one of our Event Coordinators, Matt Palmer, to find out what a typical day of his looks like - luckily for us, in the process, we also got to hear about Matt's Vegan chilli recipe and his tips for those looking to get into events!
How do you start your morning - describe your typical day?
I start my morning with coffee. No day is complete without it. I never really grew out of the whole hating going to bed and hating waking up thing that is so common as a kid. So, coffee and shower are always necessary. Sometimes at the same time.
But, other than that, the occasional early morning gym session sometimes happens, I have been known to be in the gym as early as 5am - which may not sound that impressive to the early risers among us, but considering I'm always up watching awful John-Claude Van Damme films till the early hours of the morning, I’m always impressed with myself if I do make it.
By the time I have actually got into work, I begin with writing my to-do list for the day, prioritising the most important tasks and planning what I need to achieve. But, by about 9.45, everything has most likely gone out the window, and only by around 16.00 do I start on the list. I’ve always found the events industry is a very reactive profession, so there’s often tasks you have to be mindful of which get in the way of what you set out to achieve.
My job is to make sure I take care of everything the client needs, and deliver on everything the Account Management team have promised on. I’ll do whatever I can to take things off the client’s hands. I look after all the logistical elements, from the contract and briefing call, to the travel arrangements, and any help needed on the day.
Matt likes to cook to help himself unwind after a busy day
As you can imagine this can get a little stressful so I usually unwind by cooking at the end of the day, I forget about everything else when I’m cooking, so that is pretty nice. I’ve recently become vegan, which sometimes gets a bad rep for being boring, so as much as possible I try to make my meals exciting by trying lots of new recipes. My partner particularly likes my chilli recipe at the moment.
I also like to end my day by playing a lot of Xbox!
Your chilli does sound pretty great; now we’ve spoken about an average day, could you tell us how you got to be where you are in your career today?
I started as an Events Assistant for a small company doing celebrity sports events. Then I was pretty lucky as the Event Manager unexpectedly left, so I just put myself out there and said I’d happily take the role. It was a risk, but it paid off. So, I worked for a year and a half as an Event Manager and then as the company grew I also took on the Head of Ops role. Following this, I worked freelance for a bit, but it wasn’t long before I knew I was ready for my next challenge and a company again! I wanted to carry on in the events industry, so when this role came up at Speakers Corner, I knew it would be a great fit.
I didn’t know much about the speaker industry when I first joined, but the idea of hearing inspiring people speak every day was very enticing. My thought process was that cool events like the ones we book speakers for can’t happen without people finding speakers and organising them. So, I wanted to be part of the process that helped make it all come together.
Also, the added fact that after having my interview, I knew the company environment was a place I couldn’t wait to be.
Well, we might be a bit bias, but we certainly agree! What skills are required for the job of an Event Coordinator?
I think you have to care about your client and their event; that’s definitely a trait you need. You also need to be really organised and good at problem-solving, the events world is fast-changing so there’s always a circumstance that you can’t necessarily plan for.
Good advice. After working for Speakers Corner for a little while, what do you know now that you didn’t know before?
I wasn’t fully aware of the impact that speakers can have on people’s lives. I didn’t consider how much of a difference it can make; it can be life-changing.
"I get a buzz from helping people out and from the human interaction"
It certainly can be! Have there been any particular highlights or learnings?
I’ve learnt loads from listening to the speakers that come into the office. But personally, I really like the futurists, a lot of it is recognising trends which is very insightful. I loved watching John Straw because he really shakes things up; he is a person I haven’t stopped speaking about since. But mainly, I like to hear people’s stories, just as long as it’s not a sales team punching through walls.
What’s the best part of your job?
As an Event Coordinator, you have the opportunity to speak to the speakers directly, so that is a real privilege. For me, personally, I get a buzz from helping people out and from the human interaction, so that’s certainly something I enjoy.
And what’s the biggest challenge of your role?
When unexpected things happen like storms which cause cancelled flights and all sorts of problems that you can’t plan for. They happen out of hours too, so you can end up putting so much work into something for it all to change at the last minute.
Unexpected problems are the biggest challenge for Matt
That does sound challenging. Tell us, Matt, what advice would you give to someone looking to succeed in the events industry?
For me, one of the most important parts of being good at your job in the industry is building and maintaining relationships with people, not just in a business sense, but making genuine connections. No matter what happens, I would say never burn any bridges. Also when you are networking, step away from the mindset of ‘what can I get from this’ and start to think about how you can get on with these new contacts as people. This will help to form a much better relationship, and, to be honest, you never know what’s around the corner.
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