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  • Karen Edwards


What do I mean by this?


I am not saying that event professionals have got a crest or horns on their head, or that they have a swaying gait, or they have unique feet…. well, some might have! What I am saying is that event professionals have the ability to adapt to a situation.


Whether you are a logistics planner, production manager, rigger or technician, wearing black and working in the background is where we lurk. Carrying out the wishes of the client quietly, quickly and efficiently; not drawing attention to ourselves, but blending into the background.


The last two years have certainly been eye opening for many people in the industry. This 'comfy in the background role' we have been used to has changed, we now need to shine and show our true colours in order to thrive.


Personally, I found myself in a situation where all my regular work had vanished. All the face-to-face events I was used to working on had disappeared… postponed indefinitely. This was daunting and very scary, but I decided to embrace this new world of events.


I had to move the background (where I am comfiest wearing blacks with my clipboard, radio and phone) and take several steps into the foreground, be brave and update my skill set.


And to be honest, I have enjoyed learning new skills and putting them into practice! This is something I never thought I would admit too as anything technical has scared me in the past. I have been fortunate enough to work on many virtual events doing a variety of roles:


  • Managing Zoom and Teams Meeting

  • Spot Lighting

  • Speaker Training

  • Recording and Editing

  • Breakout Rooms

  • Hosting Sessions

  • Show calling

  • Spotlighting

  • Marketing & Comms


I am one of many event professionals who has adapted their skills set to suit the changing environment, to show clients and industry peers that I am adaptable, flexible and willing to learn.


I am certainly a chameleon and proud to show off my new colours!



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  • Karen Edwards


Mentoring

“A person with experience in a job who supports and advises someone with less experience to help them develop in their work” Cambridge Dictionary


Being a Mentor was not something I had considered. I have always enjoyed chatting to students and being a guest lecturer but never had I thought about mentoring an individual or a group of students.


Then enters the fantastic Claire Leer from University of Northampton. She told me all about Otolo, an online global community for passionate hospitality people to mentor each other, reconnect and rebuild careers. Claire asked if I would like to mentor a group of students who were working with Otolo on a couple of projects and needed some guidance. Obviously, I said yes!


The group of students I was lucky enough to work with were all fantastic, and really keen to learn and ask questions. As they were second and final year students, they were all pretty knowledgeable about the events world! I saw my role as being able to being reality/ real live operational situations to their lecture room learning.


Each mentee is different. Some have lots of questions and participate in discussions, some are happier to sit back and take all the information in and contact you separately. As a mentor, you need to work with your mentees and help them on a group and individual level, and also not ne too pushy. The mentee will get in touch when they need help or advice!

One of the best things that I did was to open up my LinkedIn network to the students. I really wanted them to embrace the world of social media and reach out to as many industry professionals as they could and feel confident in doing so. To facilitate this, I arranged several on-line sessions with trusted colleagues; to name a few Jack Saward, Melanie Deakin, Helen McCabe, Lisa Sweeting, Jo Ferreday, Sam Mundy. These sessions were relaxed, fun and friendly and really allowed the student to ask lots of questions and understand some of the day-to-day challenges of event management.


Having a do everything on-line was not a problem. I do always like to meet people face to face, but with the restrictions around us, we made online learning, networking, and chatting fun.


A big thank you to Claire for introducing me to the world of mentoring. Can’t wait to start mentoring my next group of students!


If you are thinking about mentoring an individual or group of students, do so. You will not regret it.


Contact Claire Leer at Northants Uni - Claire.Leer@northampton.ac.uk

Contact the team at OTOLO – info@myotolo.com

 

Kate Darby, Events Management & Advertising Student at University of Northampton

“Karen has been such a help through out the last year. She has been someone to turn to for help and always has an industry professional to put you in contact with. She is so passionate about what she does and her work ethic is so inspiring. She has been arranging sessions with various contacts for months now which have all been extremely useful and, a great opportunity to ask questions and learn about different options within the industry. She always greets you with a smile and a sense of calmness and I have been so lucky to have been able to be mentored by her.”



Elly Lacatusu, Events Management & International Tourism Management Student at University of Northampton

for in a mentor- enthusiastic, considerate and an expert in her field of work. Karen went above and beyond, sourcing guest speakers to help me whilst at university, prepare for my placement year and for after my studies. Some topics included: Getting yourself noticed and approaching H&S in the events industry. I feel more confident and prepared for industry I am about to enter due to the valuable information and opportunities Karen has provided me. Thank you so much Karen for all your time and guidance.”


JODIE SMITH, Assistant Event & Challenges Fundraiser at Cynthia Spencer Hospice

“Karen as a mentor was great! Even with my busy schedule with university and work she was very active in making sure I do not miss workshops and even recorded these for me.”

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  • Karen Edwards

2022 has certainly started with a boom!


I have luckily had several new and exciting opportunities presented to me… and none more exciting (and scary) than the chance to co-host The Events Insight Podcast.


I have been a regular listener to the podcast since Jack Saward and Ellan Campbell-Swann started recording back in 2020. I love the relaxed, friendly and chatty feel to the podcast and the fact it attracts a huge variety of guests.


When Jack asked me if I would be interested in co-hosting the podcast with him, I was really honoured that he had thought of me first. My next thought was, does he know how much I can talk?? After a few chats I agreed to take up the reigns and co-host the podcast.

I do have very big shoes to fill as Ellan brought so much warmth and humour to the podcast and not forgetting the very important role of mocking Jack about his pineapple on pizza obsession!


I am sure you are thinking, how much do I know about podcasting, and why would I want to do this?


Well, I have been in the events industry for 13+ years and have worked on many fabulous, challenging and amazing events. I also have met so many great and talented people, I felt that co-hosting the podcast would give me plenty of opportunity to share my event knowledge and experience, and also a brilliant way to speak to some inspiration events professionals.


I have been told by many people that one of my strongest skills is building relationships (so talking, finding out about people and developing relationships). The podcast is a fantastic platform for me to get to know our guests, find out more about them and ask some challenging questions – all to reveal their personality.


I have never done anything like this before, but if the last 2 years has taught me anything, it is that you must be ready for anything and be ready to openly embrace change and new opportunities… you never know where it will lead.


I can’t reveal all the magic behind the podcast, but what I can tell you is that we often record a lot more content that you hear! Jack and I can both talk, and sometimes we even let the guests speak! Our poor producer, Callum, has the thankless task of listening to the content which Jack and I produce, and editing it down!


Also, the question 5. This is the one where the guest can ask us anything. We rarely get this sent to us in advance, so what you hear is our first and honest answer!! We do have nightmares about this… what will we get asked, how honest should we be, will we be able to answer the question?


I certainly am looking to getting started on my podcast journey. With a few recordings under my belt, I am hoping that I will relax into the role of co-host and bring my personality to the recording.


If you want to join us as a speaker, then please get in touch. www.theeventsinsight.com

We are always looking for season and episode sponsors. We are keen to promote as many businesses connected to the events industry as possible. If you would like more information on how to sponsor, then please get in touch www.theeventsinsight.com.


And finally, if you haven’t listened to the podcast yet… download it today and leave us a review.


Jack and I are both keen to hear your thoughts on the podcast and any suggestions you have for future episodes. Please connect with us on LinkedIn or find us online, on Twitter and Instagram!

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