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I have recently returned from a week-long trip to Ireland, where a colleague and I delivered a quality assurance conference for one of our pharmaceutical clients.

The event was held in the town of Killarney, stretching around the picturesque Iveragh Peninsula. This was in fact my first ever trip to Ireland and I was lucky enough to be given a truly authentic experience.

As the event was held for internal staff, it was constrained less by pharmaceutical compliance and allowed for what some would say was a more entertaining programme. Aside from the three-day conference, multiple break-out sessions and an awards dinner, guests were also treated to a traditional jaunting cars excursion through Ireland’s first national park. A personal highlight of the trip included an external dinner in a traditional Irish tavern. The evening was complete with Guinness, céilí dancing and a live folk band – of course not forgetting the song request for Galway Girl!

Quality is not an act, it’s a habit

The content of the conference focused on the delivery and assurance of quality in the client’s products. With quality being one of Ashfield’s five core values, the programme delivery by our team mirrored the conference content. Our planning and organisation pre-event and on-site used systematic operating procedures to ensure delivery of the highest quality to ensure customer confidence and strengthen our agency’s credibility.

On the surface a high-quality event should be seamless, offering delegates a smooth transition through their schedule and between activities. However the reality of event logistics that I have experienced is not simply sitting at a welcome desk and organising tea and coffee breaks. The real nitty-gritty truth of events can be seen behind the scenes, where a dedicated team are relentlessly working to a precise schedule built upon months of preparation and hard work. We can probably all take inspiration from the Henry Ford quote, ‘Quality means doing it right when no-one is looking’.

I chose a career in events as I believed that I possessed a certain mixture of attributes that align to delivering quality events; organisation, attention to detail, strong communication skills and empathy. This may be an essential skillset for a newbie to the industry but what really sets aside a budding event professional from others starting out?

I’ve come to learn that with experience I will build a different skillset, not likely taught at university. A fully-rounded event manager must have a strategic understanding of a client’s business and objectives, and insight into numerous important facets of the event spectrum and creativity and innovation in abundance. I’m eager to immerse myself in as many different opportunities and projects as possible to learn these skills. They say there is no time like the present…  I am grateful to have been asked to guest speak this month at a sustainability day at Manchester Metropolitan University and I am also supporting the delivery of a full-service event working alongside the creative and production teams in our internal engagement department. This event will also take me to an entirely new location, the distinctly less Irish town of Stevenage. I look forward to sharing my experience with you next month.

This blog was published by C&IT on 1 November.

Quality is not an act, it’s a habit

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