Conference organiser

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Sharon York is a conference and events co-ordinator with the Earls Court which runs two of the UK's busiest exhibition sites. It is her job to help turn her clients' conference ideas into reality.

What do you do?

I am the main point of contact for events and exhibitions organisers who have hired our venue. I work closely with the client to provide all the services needed to put on the exhibition. For instance, we will provide tradespeople to build the stands and design the exhibition right through to catering facilities and security staff on the day.

Once I have established what services the client wants I liaise with our departments to provide these resources; check that we meet the venue and licensing authority regulations, monitor the costs and act as duty manager during the conference itself.

Who do you work with?

I work with a variety of clients, from conference and event organising companies to suppliers who provide services on the day such as catering, audio visual and digital communications. I also work closely within the customer services department. I am part of a team of four – my manager, the conference and events manager, another conference and events co-ordinator and the conference administrator.

What is a normal day as a conference organiser?

Each day and week is different. I am very busy when a conference or event is being set up and during the time it is open. Sometimes an event can last for more than a week. At this time I have to be on-site to deal with any issues or concerns that arise. These can range from providing more catering facilities to building more stands.

What have you been doing this week?

I am obtaining information from a number of clients about their needs for future conferences. I need this information so that we can work out how to brief the companies that will be supplying the services.

Why did you choose this type of work?

I always enjoyed organising events and people while at school – from directing plays to organising school sports days. And it's an exciting and dynamic industry.

What hours do you work?

My working hours are mainly 9 am to 5 pm. However, when I am running conferences or events, my hours can be longer and include evening and weekend work.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The variety of different people I meet each day and the satisfaction of helping my clients organise successful conferences and events.

What is the most difficult part of the job?

Difficulties can occur because the venue is governed by strict rules and regulations. Sometimes clients can make unreasonable demands. I always strive to ensure that I provide excellent customer care, but sometimes I just have to say 'no'.

What skills do you need to do a job like yours?

You need to have extremely effective communication skills, both verbal and written. Knowledge of the event industry is vital as well as knowing about local authority rules and regulations and health and safety management. I attend lots of training courses to build my skills and knowledge of the event industry.

Sharon's route

  • Degree in events management.
  • Work experience.

Sharon's tips

  • Employers value relevant work experience.
  • Organising an event at school will help to understand the importance of logistics, time management and communication skills.

Conference organiser related jobs

Salary of a conference organiser

  • A junior conference, events and exhibitions organiser is likely to earn around £16,000 while experienced organisers can expect around £27,000.
  • An established conference producer can earn more than £40,000.
  • ome people work freelance – on day rates upwards of £100.

How to become a conference organiser

  • Though you don't necessarily need a degree, most conference companies do prefer graduates. Relevant degrees include events management, marketing, hospitality management, tourism, public relations or business studies.
  • CAM (Communications, Advertising and Marketing Foundation) exams are well respected in the industry.
  • Training is usually on-the-job, backed up by short courses.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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