Priya Sharma Shaikh
Demystifying Careers: Event Management
If you’ve ever thrown a birthday party or run around doing errands in any wedding or been a part of a college or school committee organizing an event, you’ve already done event management.
So, if you love the thrill of dealing with constant chaos, the challenge of organizing people, the high of running against deadlines, the exhilaration of overcoming insurmountable odds and the joy of a job well done? Then event management is the career for you. If however, you cringe at crowds, detest schedules, have a weak heart and prefer peace of mind and working at your own pace, then you’d better stay away.
A recent survey ranked event management as the 6th most stressful job alongside jobs in the police and military! How can it compare with working in the military you ask? Well, read on and you just may get a sense of what’s at stake for you.
What is Event Management?
As is quite evident from the name, event management requires you to conceptualise, organize and execute events, which could be broadly classified into:
SOCIAL, CORPORATE, ENTERTAINMENT, EXHIBITIONS, PUBLIC & SPORTS Events.
So, birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries, graduation parties, engagement parties are all Social events, while Corporate events could include team get-togethers, meetings, conferences, seminars, product launches, brand activations; Exhibitions could be themed on industry, culture, food, technology etc.; Sports events range from the annual sports competition at school to city events like the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon to international league events like the Barclays Premier League or ICC Champions league or Tennis US Open and the mother of all events - the Olympics. The Public events could include large religious events like the Kumbh Mela, festivals, Independence Day celebrations etc. while Entertainment events could have award ceremonies, charity balls, music concerts, beauty contests, donation drives, promotional gigs for films and products of all kinds. All of these events could vary in size, scale and duration and go from the very intimate (a birthday party) to the truly global (opening ceremony of the World Cup).
Every event has an agenda, an audience, a budget and it needs planning and proper execution.
What does an Event manager do?
Planning and execution - the two innocuous words that have broken many a strong back, is what event managers do. They define jobs to be done, break them down in to list of activities, assign responsibilities to people who they may need to hire, estimate costs for people, resources and activities involved, create budgets, sometimes even raise money, allocate it once raised, create timelines and track activities along these, ensure proper communication between teams working on different parts of the project and troubleshoot where required. To put it simply, they do whatever is needed to get the event done.
Now, depending on the kind of event you are managing, the specifics of your job might change. If it’s a wedding you are organizing, you’ll have a different list of things to track than if you are organising a product launch for a motorbike. Every event comes with its own set of challenges but the things listed above need to be done whatever the kind of event it is. But above all this, the one thing that an event manager does, day in and day out, is take decisions.
Every second will throw up a question. The chief guest is stuck in traffic and the show’s about to start. The parade’s about to start, the electricity goes off and the generator refuses to turn on. The logo colours printed on the banners behind the stage are a shade different from the actual brand colours. The caterer you’d booked for the party died the morning of the wedding and you have to find a replacement at the last minute. Some of these situations might seem absurd to you but reality has a fascination for the absurd and you never know what surprise awaits you around the corner.
The best event managers plan for the worst and are therefore never caught on the wrong foot.
What skills does an Event manager need?
The list of competencies an event manager needs is a long one. To be a good event manager you need to be organised have great interpersonal skills, require an ability to deal patiently and communicate clearly with all levels of people from the junior-most staff to those funding your event, be calm under pressure, think clearly and be decisive, come up with creative solutions and think fast on your feet despite the pressures mushrooming around you.
If you lack any of these, then you will struggle as an event manager. People skills are the most important of this lot and unless you enjoy dealing on a regular basis with an enormous number of people, this isn’t a job you should take. You will be required to continuously motivate people, hence good leadership skills are a must. Above all, like I said above, event management is about getting the job done, whatever it takes.
Event management also needs quick thinking and an ability to spot problems a few miles ahead.
Career progression for Event managers
Although most event management firms will ask you for a degree, as long as you have the energy, the will and can get the work done, you are good to go. You can start with interning at an event agency. Most such firms would be happy to make you slog for a pittance and you shouldn’t really have a problem with that as long as you are learning.
Big event companies like Wizcraft, Fountainhead, Encompass, Candid Marketing, Procam International, E-Factor Entertainment, Showtime, DNA Networks that handle mega events like IIFA or IPL opening ceremonies have big teams and are hierarchical. The structure is quite similar to advertising agencies where you have separate teams for business development, client servicing, operations, art direction, creatives, accounts, IT, legal and human resource.
In a firm like Wizcraft for example, the hierarchy starts with interns, then come the Executives (1-2 yrs) followed by Senior Executives (2-3 yrs), Assistant Managers (4-6 yrs), Managers and Senior Managers (8-12 years) by which time you will be leading teams. These hierarchies aren’t standardised across the industry and it makes sense to scan the ‘Careers’ page of prospective companies to get an understanding of what structure they follow.
Where can you find work?
Although you can, you don’t actually need to find a job as an event manager. As long as you have the chops for the job, have organised a few events, be it weddings or college meets, you can start out doing your own thing. Of course getting that elusive first client will always be a challenge, but then I assume you love challenges. Why else would you want to be an event manager?
However, in case you prefer the more staid and stable route of finding a job, then look up the usual suspects, the careers section in the event management companies that you will easily find listed in the members section of Event and Entertainment Management Association.
Most event management companies are made up of small teams that have a ready list of collaborators/vendors who they outsource work to as and when required for a project/event. There’s a growing breed of speciality event management companies (like wedding planners) and if you are keen on working in a certain space, then make sure the company you apply to does those kinds of events.
Event management education
National Institute for Event Management (NIEM) and the National Academy of Event Management and Development (NAEMD) which offer part time and full time courses for you to consider. A lot of colleges today offer courses in event management that focus on theory and an exposure to a string of events where students can intern while doing the course. Some of the institutes for event management are the