From upholstery to events, Meet Katie our Project Coordinator who has you covered.
Katie joined the BeaconHouse team in early 2023 to support on the delivery of TechNExt, a major new tech festival that took over the North East this June. The event was attended by over 3000 people across the region and included over 50 events, and after getting stuck into everything from organising industry dinners, briefing speakers, working with fringe event organisers and liaising with suppliers, Katie decided to stay with the BeaconHouse team long-term and bring her skills to the other clients in our portfolio. We caught up with Katie to hear what drives her and why she loves living and working in the North East.
What did your career path look like before you joined BeaconHouse Events?
I studied English Literature at university in Newcastle and took a year out while I decided what I wanted to do next. During that year I did voluntary work in South Africa and part of that project involved organising a fundraising ball. Until then I hadn’t really had experience in what went into delivering something like that and, as I love organising things, it was a great fit for me. When I came home I looked for a role where I could put those skills into practice and I joined the team at CastleGate in central Newcastle as an events coordinator, and then events manager. I worked with the team there for almost 10 years, organising everything from conferences to weddings and corporate meetings, but after a long time in the business and having two children, I decided to try something completely new and I left to set up my own upholstery business.
I really wanted to establish a business that allowed me to be creative and to explore new ideas, and after taking a course in Manchester I ran that business successfully for around 6 years, before a chance conversation with Sarah (Thackray) tempted me back to working in events.
What was it about the role at BeaconHouse Events that really made you excited?
I was at a bit of a crossroads with my business and it was during a conversation with Sarah that she asked if I knew of anyone who might be interested in helping to support with a new tech festival in the region. Running a business on my own was getting a little lonely and I missed being part of a team and that creative collaboration, so I joined the BeaconHouse team with the expectation of just being here short-term to deliver the project and, spoiler, I ended up loving it. TechNExt was delivered back in June and it was a steep learning curve to understand the nuances of the North East tech sector, but that learning has been so valuable to bring to the variety of projects that I am working on now.
The opportunity to be part of an event that was going to have such an impact on the region was just too exciting an opportunity to turn down.
How did you find working on the TechNExt festival? What did you get involved in?
The tech sector was completely new to me and there was a lot of new terminology to learn! The tech sector in the North East is big and blossoming and it was a fantastic opportunity to see the scale of the businesses that are operating here, I had no idea about the work that a lot of them were delivering or how many businesses are based here in the region. There were over 50 events taking place across the week so I was the point of contact for a lot of the businesses who were organising fringe events and had a unique opportunity to work with a wide range of different clients in unison to bring the festival to life.
We had an ambition to create a ‘good festival’ so a lot of work went into finding venues who were forward thinking when it came to accessibility and sustainability, which was really important to the festival team. That meant a lot of work behind the scenes to make an event like TechNExt look seamless and, with working venue side for the majority of my career, I guess brought quite a unique perspective to the team because I understand the level of communication and detail that venues need to deliver something brilliant for our delegates.
The week itself was amazing, we were onsite across the whole of the North East delivering everything from an industry dinner to a talent fair, festival party and main stage event – it was a busy week but it brought together everything that I enjoy about events and we really had each other’s back as a team during the stressful moments.
What does an average day look like for you?
Now that TechNExt has been delivered and we’ve completed our evaluations and project reports, I’ll be starting to work with different project groups on some big client experiences, including a leadership event taking place in the September and an annual conference and party for one of our biggest clients. I’ve been working on sourcing the best speakers for each event, briefing them and organising venues and travel. I’ve been onsite recently too, supporting on the reception to welcome guests and make sure they are comfortable with the running of events and where to go if they have any questions.
My role is part-time and I sometimes work from home for part of the week so I always try to get some fresh air along the coast to break up the day too. We’re so lucky here in the North East that you can enjoy the coast and countryside but still be close enough to the city centre to easily commute to the office.
Is there anything about your role that you think would surprise people?
The amount of information that you can absorb on a whole range of topics really surprised me when I moved agency side. I’m pretty curious by nature and I really enjoy learning about new topics or ideas and you have the opportunity to hear some incredible people speak while you are working at an event.
Recently I supported with the delivery of an event for the National Centre for Ageing and I was fascinated to hear about the work they are doing with ageing populations in the UK, something which is going to become more and more important for employers to consider in the future. Working across such a range of different clients really opens your eyes to new experiences and opportunities which, if you’re interested in hearing new ideas, can be a real perk to the role.
I was also really surprised about the options to continue a career in events as a working mum. Catherine and Sarah have built a business that empowers women to come back into the workplace and use their skills, and there are policies in place that allow me to work from home some of the time so I can be there for the school run, then pick up again later in the evening. I didn’t expect that going back into the industry and I would encourage anyone who is considering a career in events not to be put off by the assumption there is no work-life balance – it’s worth having the conversation!
If you could design an event for any client in the world, who would be the dream?
It would have to be a large scale interiors conference or festival. We would have the best speakers in the industry, stations where delegates could learn and have a go at upholstery or upcycling and stands for people to find out about the latest trends and be inspired. That would definitely combine by two career passions in one!
We’re currently recruiting for a project coordinator like Katie. If you are interested in a career in events, we would love to hear from you. Visit www.beaconhouse-events.co.uk/careers to view our current vacancies.
Posted on July 27, 2023