As a new wave of event management degrees hit the industry, we discuss the relevance of academia vs experience and how you can take advantage of future talent.
Event management is a fast-growing area of academia, and the latest university course on the scene focuses heavily on experiential marketing. While this is fantastic news, as a creative, innovative and self-motivating industry, traditionally eventprofs have not necessarily obtained qualifications in their field of expertise. We work in the world of experience, and that is precisely how many of us built our careers. So how can we make sure degrees stay relevant and provide a skilled workforce for the future?
Last year, experiential agency TRO worked with Sheffield Hallam University and other industry pioneers to offer first-hand practical knowledge when developing a new degree - Event Management and Experiential Marketing. Dr Phil Crowther, principal lecturer at Sheffield Business School, said: “As a university we are committed to co-creating curriculums with industry partners to ensure our students are highly employable on completion of their course. We have enjoyed a great relationship with TRO over the past 18 months and are very much looking forward to educating the next generation of experiential marketers alongside the industry insights that TRO will provide."
Like TRO, by working with forward thinking institutions, the industry will have a stronger influence on what future eventprofs will learn, as well as providing vital on the ground expertise to ensure the courses stay relevant.
The event management discipline integrates concepts that form the basis of good planning, problem-solving and coordination of technical aspects whilst also paying attention to details that give added value to an event. But nothing is more useful than hands on practice in real-life situations. Academia and experience are most powerful when paired together, making internships an invaluable asset for both student and employer.
Here at Olympia London for more than 15 years we’ve supported event management placement students; with many returning to full-time work at the venue. Since returning after a successful placement year with us, Event Manager Charlie Fitzgerald, has been responsible for working with brands such as Samsung, when releasing the Galaxy S4, and Marques Almeida, who launched their A/W fashion collection during London Fashion Week. Charlie’s advice for students?... “The most valuable part of my degree was the year’s work experience. It was the way doors opened for me and so my piece of advice would be - don’t be shy to take every opportunity with both hands and run with it."
Though investing in our future shouldn’t stop once students have graduated. Attracting, fostering and retaining the best possible talent should be high on our agendas. We know that millennials have different motivations when it comes to work. Whether its meditation pods, virtual reality workspaces or clean-eating vending machines, event organisers, brands and agencies need to create an appealing environment for tomorrow’s leaders to thrive in.