This August marks my fourth anniversary with Davis Events. In some ways it’s hard to believe I’ve been here for four years, and in other ways, it’s hard to believe I’ve ONLY been here four years!
So far this journey has been one of self-discovery, personal development and incredible career success!
I remember my 23-year-old self meeting with Paul Davis for the first time in the Digital Hub café and thinking afterwards that the whole interview was a total disaster! Paul spoke for about 20 minutes while I barely got a word in! He asked me at the end of the interview whether I had any questions, I thought, “Do YOU have any questions for ME?” So it came as quite a shock when I got the email to say I start work the following Monday!
It quickly became apparent in the early days of my career that working in event management was going to be no smooth sailing. There were tough lessons to be learned and mistakes were made. Reflecting now upon those times, I can see how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown. Here are a few valuable lessons I’ve learnt along the way:
The Lessons Learned
How to eat an elephant
I once read a Forbes article that said Event Management was the fifth most stressful career (after army general, pilot, policeman and firefighter) and speaking from experience, I believe it! There have been times over the years where I really struggled with stress and anxiety and sometimes I still do, but learning how to control is probably the most valuable thing I’ve gained. Sophie Ford, an old colleague of mine once asked me “How do you eat an elephant?” I thought it was an odd question until she answered “one bite at a time”. That little phrase, as silly as it sounds, has gotten me through some incredibly difficult and overwhelming situations throughout my career – thanks Sophie!
The value of a strong network
I think our parents send us the wrong message when they tell us not to speak to strangers. What they don’t tell you is that when you start work, the majority of your time is spent picking up the phone and talking to people you don’t know! For me, being an introvert, that was a difficult thing to overcome in the beginning. Thankfully, those strangers are now my peers and over these four years I’ve built a wide network of strong and reliable connections across various sectors and industries. Never underestimate the value of a strong network, as you never know who you may need to call upon for help! Whether it’s a last-minute request for an event, or (God forbid) something goes wrong during an event, you want people in your network who are always willing to help. Be kind. Be respectful. And the rewards will be great.
Anything is possible
When it comes to events, anything really IS possible. It’s just about finding the right people to do it.
It look me a long time to learn that lesson, which I would put down to my inexperience, but I now know where the potential of an event is concerned, the sky is the limit! In my early days, I figured if I couldn’t find what I was looking for on Google then it probably didn’t exist!
How naive of me! But again, this is where it helps to have a strong network of suppliers. Our little island has a wealth of talented, creative-minded people who are always willing to look outside the box and imagine the unimaginable! So the next time a client asks you for fire-breathing unicorns, you tell them no problem!
My Many Milestones
Throughout my four years here there have been many firsts, many milestones and many memories, so here are a few fun favourites of mine:
My first big client
Back in 2012, I was handed one of my first ever client projects, a winter party for none other than Google (no pressure 23-year-old self)! For the most part I knew what I was doing but there was definitely a few “fake it ‘til you make it” moments!
The night before, I had my first bout of ‘event fear’ which is when you can’t sleep because your brain is going through a checklist of all the things you have or haven’t done and when you do finally get to sleep, you dream of all the things that could potentially go wrong.
A shameful confession: from 6am the morning of the event to 10pm that evening I don’t think I ate, drank or went to the loo once! I was running purely on adrenaline! But I’m happy to say that it was a great success and the feedback from Google afterwards was all really positive! Phew!
My first international event
In 2014, I reached a further milestone when I was tasked with managing my first big international event; a conference and incentive trip to Marbella, Spain for 200 Irish delegates. As it happens, this still remains one of my all time favourite events, but organising events overseas certainly comes with its fair share of challenges. Thankfully, by the time we had touched down in sunny Spain, all those challenges were put behind us and we got to enjoy the experience for what it was.
I had so many “pinch me” moments throughout this event! The views from my hotel room were breathtaking and I couldn’t believe my luck when the client decided to cut the conference short so everyone could enjoy the sunshine (me included)! But there was nothing more surreal than watching the sunset over Gibraltar while my 200 guests were sitting down to a three-course dinner on the beach and thinking “I can’t believe I’m being paid to be here!!!”
My first award
Funnily, one of my proudest moments of the past four years only happened last month! We’ve won various awards over the years, but winning Best Corporate Event 2016 was the first time we won an award where I led the winning project. To me, this award is a symbol of how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve grown over these years and says a lot about my skills and capabilities as an event manager!
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
This is Maya Angelou’s definition of success. It’s only when you look back you realise how far you’ve come and I feel blessed to have found a career that I enjoy so much!
If I were to give me 23 year-old self any advice, it would be to listen more, always trust your gut and to not be afraid of making mistakes, because that is what will shape you for the future.