Every step has provided me with more opportunity, either career opportunities or the chance to diversify into different areas of the business.
James entered the business 18 years ago as a trainee technician, and since then has carved out his dream career in the events industry, now holding the position of Senior Director, Project Management at Encore. With an interest in events production sparked from a young age, as well as a passion for learning from his peers, he quickly moved up through the ranks. James now uses his experience in project management, client relations and technical know-how to lead Encore’s expert UK Production team. We interviewed him to find out what attributes he thinks are essential for applicants to be successful in the event industry and what has kept him at Encore for so long.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in the events industry?
“When I took my first job in the industry, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I’d previously studied A-level drama and I’d been gigging, DJing at various jobs. So, I had some level of exposure, but I didn’t know if I could, or even wanted to, make a career in it necessarily. Then I was DJing at an event and the company that provided the sound and lighting offered me my first job. I fell in love with lighting straight away and knew that this was for me. I loved the impact that you can have with an amazing show and that moment of walking into a room and wanting to take a picture because what you’re seeing is awesome. From there, I just continued to learn and develop through each experience and opportunity that presented itself. Ultimately, this industry is built on people; people skills and teamwork are a must, and I’ve always taken massive satisfaction from that.“
What do applicants need to bring to the table to be successful in your job?
“For me, the key things are the desire to learn and the ability to take the initiative and responsibility when you’re in a new situation – not being afraid of putting yourself forward. I think when starting a career in the events industry it’s important to learn a broad skill set and have multiple facets to what you do. Whether you’re interested in audio, lighting, video, or anything else, a broad understanding of the complete picture is a useful and solid basis to then grow in one particular discipline and find your specialism. It’s also important to come with an open mind. That means being able to acknowledge other people’s views and input, learn from them, but also sometimes be prepared to challenge the status quo to find better ways of working.”
You have been working at Encore for 13 years. What has kept you here for so long?
“Let me answer that with the inevitable cliché, which is that it’s about the people I work with. And that’s not just within our internal teams, it’s also our clients, partners, suppliers, and venues we work with every day. As my role has progressed, I’ve been working with new people in lots of different areas, and I continue to learn from them. Every step has provided me with more opportunity, either career opportunities or the chance to diversify into different areas of the business. After all these years, I hold so many values from my experience working here. Combining those, with the scale and scope of our operation here is extremely exciting. Encore is always pushing forward and that’s what keeps me interested.”
What advice would you give somebody who wants to develop their career in the events industry?
“My advice would be ‘always have a go’ because you don’t know what you can do until you’ve tried and got stuck into a particular role. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them. If you come with the open mind that I mentioned before and have a passion or interest about this industry, it can provide you so many different opportunities. Just have a look at what Encore offers in terms of our products. We have teams specialising in creative services, production, and digital services, as well as our supporting functions such as marketing, finance, warehouse support and logistics. With Encore, you’re supported to continually develop your career path, and if you wish to diversify or try your hand at something new, you have that chance. I think it’s all about your willingness. The satisfaction comes from the end result and knowing you played your part in that. What’s true of Encore is that we value that contribution, no matter where you play your part.”
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