Browsing Tag

event management degree

Leader spotlight – John Low, Senior Lecturer, Temasek Tourism Academy

In October 2016 I had the great honour of presenting a lecture to students from the Temasek Tourism Academy, Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore. The students were on a study trip to London, and I was invited to share my experiences about how I started in the events industry, and about how I established my MICE blog in 2011 while studying the BA in International Management course at Regent’s University. As a former student, I recognise the value of formal education in this sector, and I am always willing to share my experience with aspiring fellow students—the future generation of industry professionals. 

As a result of this speaking engagement I met John Low, a senior lecturer at Tamasek Tourism Academy. We still keep in touch, exchanging knowledge and experiences. I admire his passion and initiative, offering his students the opportunity to learn about the global MICE industry beyond Singapore. International experience is so highly valued by future employers. 

The industry continues to hotly debate whether a formal events education is needed, or does industry experience alone, with a “can-do” attitude, provide all we need? There is one aspect missing in this debate—there is more to it than getting a degree and simply setting off to work. Instead, it should be considered a life-long learning opportunity, utilising appropriate tools and resources for both personal and career development, maintaining currency in the competitive business environment. But how can this be achieved?

University of Lincoln & The MICE Blog Q & A

In April I spoke at the Digital Student Ambassador Group (DSAG) event, organised by third year event management students at the University of Lincoln. I was one of the speakers they invited to speak on the topic of event technology, and to demonstrate the abilities of technology usage at universities (and the events industry), I decided the use for the Q & A after my presentation about the business of blogging.

Closing the gap between event education and experience

Last year the discussion academia vs. experience hit headlines in industry press and was widely discussed at events until the industry concluded it’s not “vs.” anymore and event professionals require both education and experience. Now the discussion is about closing the gap between event education and experience, what companies are looking for in graduates, what is the required skill set to succeed in our competitive industry and how to standardise it across the nation.

Last week I attended the EWL Club London breakfast event at the Royal Exchange hosted by Claire Derrick, Director of Education at Ashdown Academy to discuss the balance between commercial and education needs in the events industry and the importance of the two.

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

First of all, we need to understand the difference between education, training and development. Education is the knowledge and skills resulting from instructions. Training is teaching a specified skill through practice. Development are activities that are not specifically job related but related to personal and organisations growth.

The conversation began with discussion about skills set required from new recruits. People who come in fresh don’t have the basic skills required such as venue search, liaising with clients etc. and school can make them feel confident enough to hold a conversation, pick up the phone etc. Education is needed to make graduated confident enough to “put themselves out there” and when employers interview people they should hire for attitude and train for skills.

Young people need guidance and direction before committing to pursue any type of education, to understand what they need to do to get where they want to be. Not knowing what options are there in hospitality, hotel management and events and undecided whether to go to college or university they might “fall into the industry” doing low paid jobs. Institutions such as Ashdown Academy can be a good option to explore opportunities. In other countries, such as Switzerland, you can’t just fall into it (hospitality industry) and very long training is required, both academic and theoretical. Being a national standard, service companies will look to hire from a hotel management school where these skills are taught to the highest level. Events sector, on the other hand, is not recognised enough and get pushed to tourism and hospitality so changing this perception will drive the change we want in terms of training and education.

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

Pursuing a degree has several benefits. The first added value of education is that those skills taught at university such as creative thinking, communication, presentation skills, teamwork and ability to liaise confidently are transferable and can be developed through proper academic education.

Secondly, students get a very broad perspective on the issues affecting the industry at large and get to know the different types of events, the challenges and eco-systems. When they enter the job market they are aware of the issues and have a more lateral thinking perspective on them. Education gives more ideas and being able to give input.

Businesses have the responsibility to train the people to do better. One of the ways to check candidates’ suitability for a job is to take them through a job application process that tests the different skills required, e.g. – CV, ask them to prepare a power point presentation, Skype interview and face-to-face interview. Also today, CV is not enough, employers can check candidates on social media, what content they post and how they interact online. Today, talent attraction takes place in the digital environment. There is conversion taking place between the live event and digital and we use technology to amplify the live experience. Events are very often focused on the logistics and very little are given to the digital element of events: pre, during and post event. There is a skill and knowledge gap in understanding the role of digital and should be developed.

Lastly, we also talked about the high turnover of staff that greatly affects our industry and said that that’s where the industry is failing recruits if they can’t train them properly. Managers should be trained as well to be able to train new talent.

I liked the choice of venue, was perfect for our small group discussion and very attentive service by D & D London. In the end of the event they also offered us small boxed for a takeaway, great way to reduce food waste.

It was a very interesting discussion and we could go on and on discussing and debating the topic. What do you think? What is the balance between commercial and education? Is it up to the company or the individual employee to get training?

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

How to make the most out of your event management degree

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

I graduated in December 2014 from Regent’s University London with BA International Events Management and very grateful for all opportunities and doors my degree has opened for me. While there is still a big debate whether you need one or not, I strongly believe that a degree is very important to get into the events industry and stand out in the competitive market place. But, getting a degree is not enough and you need to get experience and expand your network while at university. In this post I share with you some tips which I think helped me enormously during my degree.

Get an international work experience or do a study period abroad

Living, studying and working outside your home country takes you out of your comfort zone and has several benefits. Not only you will perfect and learn a new language, you will also learn about the culture, become more independent, meet friends from all over the world and encounter other challenges you will need to sort out yourself. Employers highly value international experience and it will make your CV stand out. I did three internships in Germany, two in the events sector and one year study period abroad which were very unique and beneficial experience for my career today. At the time I thought it was challenging but looking back the experience was priceless.

Attend trade shows but never register as a student

When you attend big trade fairs there is always a “student” registration tab. Unless you are going with your class and programme director never register as a student. Register as a freelancer or use the name of your current employer. To get the real feel of the industry you need to mingle with event professionals and attend same networking session and presentations they are attending. In general, student sessions are also on the last day of the show and the real “buzz” is on the first day. Of course don’t neglect student events only and network with your peers. 

Network network network

I am sure you have heard it already, but still I can’t emphasise enough how important it is in our industry. There are several ways to network so find the way you are most comfortable with. If you think online, such as on LinkedIn and on Twitter are best, leverage these networks. If you think you come across better face-to-face, attend industry events or suggest to meet for a coffee, that way you can discuss about more specific topics. From experience – combining online and face-to-face is the best. I met many industry colleagues first online and we see each other time and again at events. Social media platforms give us the great opportunity to stay connected all year round.

Participate in competitions

There are lots of competitions or scholarships for event management students from major industry associations and organisations, such as MPI and ICCA, to mention a few. In most cases they offer flight tickets and accommodation to major conferences and I highly recommend you applying for any of these! Some will require merely a cover letter, others an essay, a video or group presentation. In my first year I participated in the IMEX MPI MCI competition where I had to write an essay and because I won they sponsored my trip to IMEX Frankfurt to the MPI Future Leaders Forum. I was in my first year then and it was a fantastic opportunity and great motivation.

Choose university projects that can be beneficial for you during your studies or afterwards

As students we spend so much time on research for university projects, so why not to be able to reuse it afterwards? I always chose projects that could be somehow beneficial for me during my studies or afterwards. For example, conducting interviews with senior planners or researching the company you want to work for can open great opportunities for you because “you’ve done your research” and established first contact with someone senior in the company.

Keep in touch with your alumni association

So now you graduated, it is just the beginning! After you graduate keep in touch with your alumni association and teachers and try to get involved and “give back” to the university by mentoring a student, taking time to answer their dissertation questions, sharing your experience, attending alumni events and updating them about your news. I am sure as a student you attended a presentation by someone who inspired you, so be that inspiration to others!

To conclude, events industry is very competitive. Sum up all bachelor and master degrees in the UK, including all the part time courses and the growing expectations of employers for work experience – you need to find out creative ways to stand out. Therefore, if you do decide to do an event management degree (which I can highly recommend) – make the most out of it!

*Photo credit Regent’s University London Alumni

**Part of this article was originally published on We Blog Events