Front of house and events are generally seen as being female dominated but it’s an industry just as suited to men if they have a passion for exceptional customer service.
Alex Zolnerciks, Head of Events, shares his experiences…
What is your role and what does a typical day at work look like for you?
I am Head of Events for the new Mitie event management business Troop. As well as pitching to clients for ad-hoc events, I also place Event Managers or teams with clients to either run their events for them, or just complement and support their existing team. It’s a challenging and exciting role as there is so much potential to work across our large client base.
I don’t think there really is a typical day in events, but this is something I absolutely love about the industry. It’s full of creativity, challenges and energy. In the past my working day ranged from a 6am start when I would be on-site overseeing the build of a conference or exhibition, to a midnight finish when I would stay on-site until all the guests had departed. In the lead-up to and during an event I would manage the operation teams, which included the front of house, technical and catering teams, and be the main point of contact for the client. Now I make sure that the people placed across our network of clients have the right tools and knowledge to make every event exceptional.
How did you get into this profession?
My original plan was to open a sci-fi cinema in one of London’s long closed cinemas. I needed some experience of working in a cinema so I joined Virgin Cinemas as a Manager back in the late 90’s. After numerous sites and cinema chains (I’ve worked in 80% of London’s cinemas) and being a creative personality, I was drawn to marketing. A lot of the cinema partnerships and marketing campaigns had event elements so I progressed into events. I have a keen interest in technology so as digital cinema became more mainstream, this opened up cheaper options for conferencing in a cinema environment and made it more accessible. I took the model and learnings from my time as event manager at Vue @ The O2 and launched the conferencing and events business for Vue Cinemas. After a couple of years freelancing as an Event and Production Manager I joined Mitie Client Services earlier this year.
What skills do you think are needed to succeed in a customer service led role?
As well as being level-headed and passionate, having an approachable personality really is essential. You are dealing with a real range of individuals, from very demanding clients with high expectations to the operation teams who, from time-to-time, you ask to go above and beyond what they would normally do. Having strong organisation and communication skills are also critical to success in a customer service led role.
Do you feel there are opportunities for you to progress in the industry?
There is massive opportunity to progress within the industry as you can work across all business sectors in any country. It’s a wonderful, vibrant place to work, offering exciting career opportunities. The industry has come a long way in the last few decades and is now about so much more than simply throwing a party, it’s a proper job!
Ever-growing demand for live experiences from the younger generation is fuelling consistent growth in the industry. The UK events sector alone is worth £42.3 billion and sustains more than 530,000 full-time equivalent jobs, so there is plenty to go round!
Would you encourage other men to join your profession and why?
Absolutely! I’d encourage anyone to pursue a career in events. Whereas traditionally men have fulfilled the event production roles such as AV technician, set designer or production manager, it’s great to see women moving into these roles and men in turn crossing over into event management. Although the roles are close within the industry there is a clear divide, but there is a real benefit to the client if their team are not only excellent event managers but also fantastic production managers.
Alex Zolnerciks is Head of Events for Mitie’s event management business Troop.