Confessions of an Event Manager: Pt 2

Next up in our confessions series is Megan Mulholland, a Project Manager in our Public and consumer engagement team.

From the managing a crisis at the London 2012 Olympics, to creating a temporary venue in the Sierra Nevada Desert, Megan’s 10 years in the industry has been varied to say the least.

Tell us about your role at Strata

I work specifically with clients that engage with the general public and consumers, mainly within the public or financial sectors.

My day-to-day involves putting together project plans, liaising with clients, writing proposals, and going onsite (when possible!)  Most of the events I run are roadshows and campaign activations. I don’t often work on conferences or private events, although in the last year things have changed slightly where face-to-face events haven’t been possible.

How have things changed in the last year for you?

When it comes to engaging the general public, my clients were not sure if virtual would be suitable. But once they saw what was possible through our successes with other clients they bought into virtual, and we’re now running virtual events alongside planning for face-to-face campaigns from this summer onwards – which I’m very excited to get back to!

More recently I ran a fully virtual AGM for a financial client which was a first for them, so that really allowed me to put my virtual event experience to good use.

On crisis management

I had no sleep for four days, which aged me about 20 years, but we got it done and the client was happy!

What was your first event job?

My events career started at 18, working for an exhibition stand business which involved a lot of travel around Europe which I absolutely loved. However I wanted to move into a role that required more creativity and strategy which I’ve been able to do since joining Strata.

I do enjoy the practical logistics side of things, but for me it’s key to bring that into the wider fold of why a campaign is being run in the first place.

What excites you right now in the industry?

There is a huge focus on sustainability in events which is really exciting, but also necessary. The pandemic has really highlighted that and shown how we can all be doing more to reduce our impact on the wider environment.

Building sustainability into our campaigns is now standard, and clients want to see how we can help them minimise their carbon footprint and other environmental considerations.

Why do you like working in events?

For me, I love the people. Being onsite and meeting new people all the time means every day is different and there is so much variety.

I also enjoy the project structure to events, as you’re working towards something which in the end you know will be rewarding. I thrive working under pressure so deadlines and critical path plans keep me focused.

How do you keep your clients happy?

Trust is vital. There is a lot of work behind the scenes that my clients are responsible for, so anything I can do to take strain and pressure away from them is how I add value. Also understanding that I am one part of a much bigger picture helps me and my clients work together to problem solve and create solutions that are right for everyone involved.

What’s your top tip for fellow event planners and clients?

For newcomers to the industry, my biggest tip is to just go to everything. Attend every supplier event, go on FAM trips and get yourself out there. Meet people to learn about different destinations and suppliers, as networking gives you vital contacts that can really come in useful later down the line.

When has it all gone wrong and how did you manage the crisis?!

Dealing with the public certainly has some surprises, but I can’t really go into detail on that!

One minor debacle was when I worked on the London 2012 Olympics supporting on the sponsor suites. A client had designed their own bespoke furniture that we manufactured, but unfortunately, three days before the sponsor suites opened our supplier had a fire in their workshop completely destroying everything.
We were not prepared to accept something off-the-shelf, so we worked day and night with local suppliers and carpenters to get replacements made. So I had no sleep for four days, which aged me about 20 years, but we got it done and the client was happy!

From all the events you’ve created, which are you most proud of?

About six years ago I ran an event for an automotive client in the Sierra Nevada Desert in Spain, and there is literally nothing there other than a racetrack.

We had to bring in everything required so installation was over two months long, but literally creating a venue from nothing was so rewarding. Creating a completely bespoke experience for your guests isn’t something you get the opportunity to do on every project, so its one that I’m really proud of.

What’s your favourite part about running events?

It might sound a bit mad, but I actually love the time just before you get onsite when you’re juggling 100 different balls and have lots of spinning plates; it’s the definition of organised chaos and I thrive on it.

Some people might say this time is the most stressful as there is a lot of nervous energy. But I love the adrenaline rush that comes with it all.

If you want more from our team, head over to Amelia’s confessions.

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