For our latest Employee Interview we profiled Mary Ann, one of IQPC’s Event Managers in Singapore. Helping to organize some of the regions largest events Mary Ann is no stranger to hard work and at times long hours, yet regardless, she never seems to stop smiling and has a positive nature that is simply infectious.
We caught up With Mary Ann to talk about getting creative, managing costs and a culture that embodies teamwork, passion and a desire to get things done together!
ES: When did you first join IQPC?
ML: August 2014
ES: And while your current role is Event Manager that is not the only position you’ve held in the company is it?
ML: No its not, so I started in delegate sales, then I moved into Customer Service and then Sponsorship Operations before becoming an Event Manager.
ES: That’s quite a few roles in 2 years, how come there was so much change?
ML: I guess the opportunities came up and my leaders were good enough to recognize my talents and nudge me in the right direction. Event Manager is not a role I’d have originally chosen during my job hunt but taking it on here I’ve found a new passion and joy. So yes when I was given that opportunity I grabbed it and rode that wave!
ES: So do you now feel settled and that you’ve found your career niche?
ML: Yes actually I enjoy what I’m doing now, I find a lot more passion in it, I’m learning a lot and getting involved in so many new things. It’s certainly kept me busy and I’m not looking for anything else so that’s a good thing and I guess the whole learning journey has inspired me. I really enjoy learning new things all year round.
ES: So tell me a little more about the life of an Event Manager at IQPC, what sort of things do you get involved in on a daily basis?
ML: I’d say that life as an Event Manager is really colorful, there are a lot of things we need to do and be good at, time management is definitely one of them because we have strict deadlines to hit. But the whole idea of managing each event from a logistics point of view means holding a lot of project meetings and making sure you are prepared for them of course, liaising with vendors, with hotels and venues, working with designers and printers to sort out the onsite art work. And I think the best part of it is really getting creative with ideas for how to make your event even better; how to make it more than presentable but yet, still manage the costs and stay in budget.
I think you also have to be great at multitasking; there are so many things to do at the same time. You have to learn how to prioritize and how to get your work done within a set space of time. So if you get bored easily then that is something that really keeps you on your toes and I really love it.
ES: Can you tell me about a creative idea that you implemented recently on one of your events?
Well, I think CEM, our Customer Experience Event was the first one that opened my eyes and pushed me to be more creative. The fun part of this was planning the set up for the Masquerade Dinner for the Awards Ceremony. I hand crafted the table decorations myself.
ES: Really, you did those? I thought they were great!
ML: Yes, it was just a simple Pinterest idea, I bought a few bits on Taobao and repainted some recycled wine bottles, I think it cost us less than S$5 per table. So we got our hands dirty, we got creative and it worked out and really fit the theme. It was a really satisfying result.
ES: So if you had to pick a couple of things to highlight what do you enjoy most about the role?
ML: Of course after the CEM event, getting creative is something I really enjoy, it taps your brain to think of new ideas and yes I really enjoy that; putting my ideas into play, seeing it come to fruition. The other thing I really love most about my job is the flexibility in managing my own time. I have to meet the strict deadlines still but I really don’t like being micro managed and the best part of it is no one manages me but my deadlines.
ES: So I can see that independence is important to you, but is there help available if you need it?
ML: Definitely, my manager has been very very helpful, even when I don’t ask for help it is always offered and especially when I was new to the role I was given a lot of guidance not just from my manager but my seniors too; teaching me how to do certain things, being very generous with their time especially when they’re all rushing to meet deadlines too. And that is something I value a lot.
ES: So what is the hardest part about the job?
ML: Reducing costs!!!
ES: Isn’t that always hard!
ML: Yes, I know! I think in an expensive city like Singapore, trying to reduce costs is difficult
ES: Especially when you don’t want to jeopardize the quality of the event.
ML: Exactly, yes! You want to make the event as presentable as possible, in fact not just presentable you want to keep the wow factor, yet you need to keep it at the lowest cost possible and that at times is very challenging.
ES: As part of the role you also deal with a lot of Global Senior Executives who work with us as speakers. Can you tell me a bit about that part of the job?
ML: Sometimes it can be hard to reach these people, you may have to work through their Assistants and you need to be relentless. They clearly see value in being involved in the conference and they value your support in helping organize their participation but they’re also so busy, so you have to be quite determined to ensure we stay on their agenda.
ES: Is it rewarding to then meet these people onsite at the events?
ML: Yes it is, it’s nice to put a face to things, a lot of times in the run up to the event we are only communicating by email but when you see each other at the event and they remember your name and thank you for your help that is something that, I don’t know how to describe, you feel valued, you feel recognized and you feel like an important person at the event. So I think this is something else about the job that you just wouldn’t get as an executive somewhere else. Getting to meet these really senior people who are so willing to share with you the wealth of their experiences and just talking to them onsite teaches you a lot. It brings you a lot of new knowledge and new experiences.
ES: So can you tell me a little bit about IQPC as a place to work, why do you choose to work here with us?
ML: Well interestingly after a stint in Delegate Sales I was thinking about leaving, but something made me stay. Of course there was the opportunity to cross departments but also it’s the people. Had it not been for the people I don’t think I would have stayed here for the last two years, especially when the first role I took wasn’t the right fit for me.
Really just having amazing people to work with makes the job so much more enjoyable. Being around people who are willing to teach, people who are willing to help, who are passionate about their work, who want to put in the effort.
So yes what makes it a beautiful place to work is really the team you work with. I am not in this alone, a lot of times even though it’s my responsibility to manage an event I get lots of help from all around, especially from my team mates. Even when in the run up to an event we have to work long hours, we stay together, we have meals together, we talk, we laugh, we get over things and we get things done together! And I really value that teamwork. I think its something that IQPC has that the other organizations I have worked for are still struggling to achieve.
ES: So finally what advice would you give to someone looking to get into Event Management as a career?
Well I think the advice I’d give it be prepared to be humble, be open to constructive criticism. Work hard, roll up your sleeves, be willing to put in the long hours.
But the most important thing of all is if you are willing to do all that, the rewards that come from finishing an event, from really pulling it off is something that money cannot buy. It’s one of those scenarios where if you had not put in all that hard work you’d never realize how satisfying it can be.
ES: Thanks Mary Ann and on behalf of IQPC we are also very glad you stayed!