A day in the life of an #eventprof: Project Manager

Our new series of Day in the Life blogs are here to give you an idea if you would like to become an event professional (commonly known as an #eventprof) either with us at Sleek Events or with another company.

Venue Kings Place London

Client Okta

Event name Okta Forum

Date 27 June 2018

Okta help companies do 3 things: modernise their IT, build customer experience and prevent data breaches. Their 2-day forum brings together hundreds of IT leaders for an interactive learning experience to narrow the innovation gap at their businesses.

Okta’s executives, product leaders, key partners and customers showcase their integrated identity, mobility and security products, and forward-thinking IT leaders share their experiences in implementing best-of-breed technologies.

We were hired to make sure the whole event ran smoothly – and this included building on the morning and the evening of the first day, with very close timings to the live event. Here’s our Project Manager, Erin Corrigan’s walk (and sometimes run) through the day.

The night before the day in the life

This is a day in the life but it’s important to say that getting quality rest before an event is absolutely key – sounds obvious, I know, but for this event, I choose to stay close to the venue the night before at The California.

Just a quick ramble off the path before we get back to the event… if you’re looking for a reasonably-priced guest house in the city then The California is perfect – and this is by no means a bog-standard guest house so expect to be hit directly between the eyes by their personal touches. You get the best room rate by booking direct through their website.

The morning shift

We are due onsite at 7am so it’s an early start – I’ll be wearing an Okta-branded t shirt so I need to wear smart yet functional clothing with comfortable shoes to see me through the whole day.

We’ve already had a team briefing in the office the day before, so I conduct the morning briefing with two other full-timers from our Sleek Events team and two of our regular hostesses. Once I’ve gone through the running order with them, I move on to a meeting with 10 of the venue’s team assigned to us and go through the function sheet with them. The venue will be supporting the event with audio visual equipment and the catering, as well as the space itself.

In addition to them, we have a range of suppliers on site to make the event come to life. Onward Display has provided the branded elements, Conference Expo brings the sponsor stands, Clarkes Coaches is on stand-by to collect the delegates at the end of the day to take them on to a networking evening (which we have also organised!). Then we have Conference Badges covering the registration desk, whilst YR takes care of the giveaway station.

The client relationship is paramount and they have to trust us to manage the event so they can feel comfortable to spend time rehearsing for the next day. I report to them that the first day’s sessions are running smoothly, that the delegates are happy and the suppliers are on course to install on time.

Keeping up with my to-do list

Once I’m sure everything is set up correctly for the day, I can spend some time on other client projects that are in the pipeline. At this point, I’m working on five other projects with delivery dates ranging from mid-July to October.

You may notice, I didn’t mention what I had for breakfast earlier in my blog. That’s because

7am is too early for me to eat breakfast! We don’t get regular mealtimes during events – in this case, I eat lunch once all the attendees are happy and in post-lunch sessions.

The evening shift

The second day of this event includes a small exhibition with 10 sponsors’ stands as well as Okta-branded build items and a giveaway supplier. Once the first day’s programme is finished, our second shift begins at 6pm. Some of the team go on to manage the networking reception evening, some stay behind with me at the venue and the hostesses head home.

The install takes 4 hours, my job is to oversee it rather than get stuck in with the heavy lifting. I check the artwork on the stands to ensure they are all correct. Whilst the stand builds go without a hitch, I notice a few glitches with some of the client’s artwork and there’s some feedback from today about the room set-ups from my team, so I’m the one who must provide the solutions. I get the artwork reprinted, confirm room set-ups for tomorrow with the venue’s team and when the giveaway supplier gets stuck in traffic, I change our install timings to accommodate them.

I go for dinner with our MD, Jennifer, while the install is completed and then I pop back to the venue for a final check to be sure everything is in place for the next day. We stay at the same hotel tonight and can sleep easy knowing we’ve prepared well.

Combating stress – a follow-up to our ‘day in the life’ from Jennifer Davidson…

If you read some of our other blogs, you’ll notice that we take wellness extremely seriously at Sleek Events. As this event was in June when we were enjoying some impressively sunny weather, we decided to take a long evening walk the night before the event before we headed into the city. Richmond Park is on the doorstep of our office so we take every opportunity to ramp up our steps each day!

Erin talks in this blog about missing out on meals when an event goes live. We really don’t like our team to go hungry but it is often the case that when the adrenaline kicks in, we forget about food! I would always recommend keeping a snack to hand to keep you going in between meal times – you need to feed the energy in to your body to perform to your best.

Heard of “to fail to plan is to plan to fail”? Being an #eventprof can be made more stressful by poor planning. Successful event management is 80% planning and 20% execution and ensuring thorough planning can significantly reduce stress levels when it comes to event day.

Erin says, “Ultimately, I’m an #eventprof because I love what I do – the variety in my job keeps it exciting and the challenges mean I’m constantly learning.”

Think you’d like to become an event prof with Sleek Events? Keep an eye out on our social media for new job opportunities.

sleeping images

Sleeping beauties

In the second of our series on how to combat the stresses and strains of working in events, Francesca Garola, Founder of HappyBalancedLife, talks to us about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.


Sleeping Beauties… don’t make sleep a fairy tale

How many of us have fallen for the common myth of “Busy, productive people need less sleep” ? I certainly had! I’m wonder woman, aren’t’ I?

I hacked my sleeping pattern and, for years, I tried to survive on 5/6 hours of sleep a night so I had time for my morning rituals and fitting everything I had to do in a day.

As we know, events life can be super crazy and our phone can easily take over our lives… “What? Are you not on your emails 24/7?” “Does this mean you are actually off on a weekend?”

Most of us are getting far less sleep than we actually need and lack of sleep is affecting us in so many harmful ways.

Here are 5 simple examples on how lack of sleep can affect our system:

  1. Weight Gain – the less you sleep, the more your hormones will have fun increasing and decreasing as they please. Cortisol (the stress hormone), insulin and the appetite hormone are directly linked with the lack of sleep and they increase exponentially when you haven’t had enough rest. The hormones’ rollercoaster can affect your metabolism, increase risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, etc.
  2. Concentration & Productivity – let’s imagine your body requires an average of 8 hours of sleep and you only sleep 6. This means you are forcing your body and your brain to skip 2 hours of beauty sleep! According to a couple of studies this leads to a one-third reduction in your cognitive abilities… it’s pretty much like showing up to work after having downed a pint of beer and pretending to have a super-productive day!
  3. Mood – lack of sleep impacts your mood, increasing anger, anxiety and depression. It also decreases your ability to empathise with others and makes you less able to calm your mind when needed. A study on over 10,000 people, showed that insomnia sufferers are 500% more likely to develop depression.
  4. Learning Abilities – did you know that if you study something before going to bed, you are increasing your probabilities to learn it faster? It is called the ‘consolidation’ method. Also, a rested brain will thank you at work and it will be your ally even on your most difficult day!
  5. Immune System – a healthy sleeping pattern will help your immune system to heal you faster, to fight colds and to naturally protect your body. For those who care, lack of sleep also ruins your skin! When you do not get enough sleep, your body releases cortisol, the famous stress hormone, and also the cause of breaking down skin collagen. Lack of sleep increases the C-Reactive Protein, the ‘inflammation’ protein, and can increase chronic inflammation in the body.

I’ve now made sleeping an essential part of my life, both in the working and personal-growth realm. How have I done that? Here are a few tips I hope you can adopt in your life.

  1. Discover your OAS (Optimal Amount of Sleep)

We all have different sleeping needs. Generally it varies between 7 and 9 hours. Whenever you can, try not to set any alarm for a few of days and see at what time you naturally wake up. Check how many hours that is and get an app on your phone so that you can time your sleep until you get the hang of it and become a master at allowing yourself to sleep

  1. Routine your sleep

Try to get a super simple routine before you go to bed. It can be as straightforward as: brushing teeth, reading, snoozing; or more detailed such as night yoga, stretching, meditation, etc. Whatever works and can be applied daily so that your body knows that it’s time to go to bed!

  1. Can I have a nap?

In Asia, napping is compulsory! To increase productivity, Chinese workplaces include a 15-20 minutes nap during lunch break. In western culture napping is for kids but why not try a nap yourself? Imagine what you could do with the energy of a toddler every afternoon! Here’s one method to ensure you power nap and not sleep the whole day – hold an object (it needs to make a lot of noise when it hits the floor!!) in your hand and start napping. Once you start getting into deep sleep, your muscles will release and the object will fall. The noise will wake you up and you will be power napped!

And, the obvious:

  • Avoid coffee after 2pm
  • Use the bed for sleeping only (do not work/eat/watch TV/play, etc)
  • Avoid sleeping pills, all they do is get you hooked so you believe you will never be able to sleep without them
  • Do not eat right before going to bed.

After reading this post you might get a sense of denial and still think that this is all BS and that you can easily make it with 5 or 6 hours of sleep. Do yourself a favour, do some reading on the subject – there are so many interesting resources available online.

P.S. For the event leaders of the world – I know how we love to rock in our job and I completely understand how difficult it can be to actually find time to sleep. However, please allow yourself to rest whenever you are not physically on an event, switch off the phone when you get home at night and enjoy some “you” time.

Happy dreams everyone!

Keep up with Francesca on Facebook and Instagram.