Often the thought of working in events management conjures up images of hosts sipping champagne and schmoozing VIP guests while enjoying an evening of entertainment and glamour that they've organised. But really, how true is this? Not all events have the same budget and anyone who's ever tried to plan just a wedding will know how stressful big dos can be to pull off, and that's without the likes of sponsors and clients to appease. So we decided that the only way for us to really understand was to chat to someone on the inside.
Enter Rochelle Carter, Marketing and Communications Manager at Volkswagen Group, in charge of planning big events for a multinational brand. Regularly organising conferences, often a number at one time and with contacts at Richard Branson's Moroccan Retreat, this is one lady who knows her stuff. Here, she lets us in on the secrets of the job and how, though it can be stressful, it also can be just as cool and exciting as we hoped…
So how did you come to be Marketing and Communications Manager at Volkswagen?
I first worked at Volkswagen Group as part of my undergraduate placement as a Marketing Assistant. After completing my degree in Marketing at Bournemouth University, I came back to Volkswagen Group as Marketing Communications Manager. I work in after sales, managing marketing and events for The Trade Parts Specialists.
What first got you interested in marketing?
While I was at school I did some work experience in the marketing department of the Welsh Development Agency and saw how marketing campaigns and promotions were put together for farm produce that are now sold all over the UK and further. I loved that it allowed me to mix business and strategy with creativity.
A large part of your role is events management, are there any particular events you’ve been involved in that have really stood out?
I get involved in all sorts of events, which makes my job really exciting and ever-changing. Incentive events are my personal favourite as it gives us a chance to celebrate the fantastic performance of the staff in the TPS Network. Last month, we arranged a 'trip of a lifetime' to Marrakech which included a tour of the Souks and Djemaa El Fna Square, as well as a jeep safari in the Atlast Mountains and lunch at Sir Richard Branson’s Moroccan retreat. This month we awarded top performers with an afternoon of outdoor activities including clay pigeon shooting, segways and hovercrafts at Sudeley Castle, followed by an exclusive awards dinner at Ellenborough Park in Gloucestershire. At the same time, I’ve been organising two large conferences for 450 delegates which are taking place in the same week. Never a dull moment!
What is the best part of organising a big event?
Seeing it all come together! I love seeing an event in action; the live event day is always the highlight. I love seeing delegates enjoying themselves.
I can imagine it's stressful, how do you avoid getting overwhelmed?
Planning and organisation help to dilute the stress!
How much of events management is what you know and how much is who you know and the favours you can pull?
Experience is everything. It’s not so much about the favours you can pull in, rather how to deal with different situations. Live events can throw all sorts of things at you that you’d never expect – the trick is to be ready for anything!
What advice do you have for someone hoping to pursue a career in events management?
Get as much experience as you possibly can. Watch and learn from people that have been in the industry for years.
Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on at the moment or is it all top secret?
At the moment I’m working on two conferences which will be running back to back, only three weeks to go so it’s hotting up!
We'll let you get on with it then - thanks Rochelle!
If you're super organised and like the idea of planning events people will remember, have a look at the events management courses available. Whether it's conferences you want to organise or award ceremonies, or even both, like Rochelle, there will be a course for you.