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Gen Y Speaks: Being an events manager has been challenging. Here's how my background in theatre helps

Finding a career that is enjoyable and fulfilling isn’t easy, but I’ve learnt that unexpected fields can offer the best of both worlds.

Upon entering the world of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE), it became clear to me that MICE, like theatre, takes an entire village to pull off. From those who set the vision for the event, to the marketing teams that spread the word to the right people, and the tech experts who enable everything to run smoothly, every role is crucial.

There are times when things can get hectic, especially when I have to manage multiple events simultaneously, but the feeling of pride and accomplishment I get when the event wraps up successfully makes it all worthwhile.

It reminds me of the long hours I used to spend at theatre rehearsals, culminating in enthusiastic applause from audiences. It soon became clear to me that when you are doing something you love, you are more than willing to put in the hours to ensure everything turns out perfect.

While applause from a crowd is rarely in the cards for coordinators, the satisfaction of seeing an event come together is akin to receiving a standing ovation on opening night.

STEPPING OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE

While highly fulfilling, the job is not without its challenges.

After more than seven years in the industry, I have encountered my fair share of roadblocks and obstacles, many of which I am grateful for as they have made me step out of my comfort zone.

The recent pandemic for one, provided my team and I the chance to pivot and adapt to the changing nature of conferences. For a client’s new product launch, we learnt how to organise our first hybrid event with an international audience. Due to Covid restrictions, we could only have about 120 people attend the physical event here in Singapore, while another 200 attended virtually from Shenzhen, China.

Figuring out how to keep guests engaged while abiding by safe distancing protocols was a challenge, but our hard work paid off: Our clients were very pleased with the turnout, and our delegates were also very impressed by how smoothly the event went.

Another aspect of my job I really appreciate is being able to cross paths with professionals from all walks of life, from logistics experts and hospitality professionals to tech specialists and artists. Through my work, I have met people from all over the world — Canada, Austria, Japan and more. This has provided me valuable learning opportunities and expanded my perspectives.

One of the most impactful memories of my MICE career was at a pharmaceutical conference I helped organise here in Singapore.

Witnessing some of the world’s brightest minds come together to share about their game-changing innovations, each of which had the potential to save countless lives, I was struck by the realisation that this was only possible because of the work my team and I had poured into the event.

This was just one of many moments that motivate me to keep making a meaningful difference through my work.

BRING YOUR PASSION TO LIFE IN YOUR CAREER

No two events are the same, much like no two theatre performances are the same. Each event, like each stage performance, has its own unique story, challenges and triumphs.

Finding a career that is enjoyable and fulfilling isn’t easy, but I’ve learnt that unexpected fields can offer the best of both worlds.

Whatever journey you choose, the friendships forged along the way also make it a lot more meaningful – some of the people I crossed paths with during my theatre days remain some of my closest friends today.

If I could somehow send a message to my younger self who was torn between my dreams and reality, I’d say this: Life has a way of surprising you. Keep an open mind, embrace every opportunity, and you might find a path that not only aligns with your passion, but also offers a world of experiences you never imagined.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ash Abdullah, 29, is a project manager and event organiser at International Conference Services.

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