So I have spent the last quarter of a century working and playing in the event management industry. I have set myself landmarks and goals that I consider the defining points of success. When I accomplish one of those goals I take stock of the achievement and look to the next self appointed challenge to drive my career forward and me.
Recently I have been appointed an Executive Producer role with an organisation I have admired for a long time and definitely one that I considered as one of those landmark roles that deserves a personal success bullet point on my CV.
An amazing company with a reputation that clients and industry professionals sit up and beg to work with. The point of this blog is not to big up this particular company but to give you an insight into what makes it great, its got nothing to do with the name, how long its been established or its client list.
What’s amazing about this company is the people that work there, their ethics and the culture. It goes without saying that the people are unbelievably professional, they are all at the very top of the game and as the senior person on the team you really feel the pressure to deliver consistently at their level.
On day one I was warned that my very first project is a colossal ball breaker with the reputation of crushing the best minds in the event universe and its not uncommon for those who have taken on the challenge to retire to the nearest toilet never to return.
True to all the warnings, the job pitched and rolled around so much, that at times you felt like a passenger rather than the Producer. Changes literally happened in the time it takes to go and make a coffee. By the time the changes had been reacted to, the decision was reversed and the coffee had gone cold.
A shroud of secrecy around the product meant that content was completely unavailable, no script, no presentation, no artwork and three weeks prior to going on site not even a defined country let alone a venue!
Perversely, I quite enjoyed the challenge. The team I had around me became an instant second family. We supported each other, openly squabbled but most importantly giggled our way through every bazaar client request and updating client Power Point decks seemingly written in a 1967 version of Microsoft. As a team we still had to circumnavigate all the obstacles and orchestrate a show that would be viewed by a global audience of around four million.
The talent within the team from the Project Coordinator to Producer was immense, not a single mind within the group was wasted, and everyone focused on their individual tasks, constantly processing information through this machine of brilliant and gifted people. The output from this team machine was a constant stream of data, material, facts and figures, which at one point in time would all come together to create a single show that seamlessly blended together as one.
Often all this hard work, weeks of struggle and hard grind come down to a single moment when all anybody wants is for the show to run smoothly, without a single fault and for the donkeywork to give some payback.
We are for the most part in the hands of the black art of technology and longhaired operators who we oddly lock away in a very dark space behind the stage. The only view we give them of the outside world is through a multitude of monitors and it’s in these sun starved hero’s that we trust to make the magic happen and deliver the results of the hard work.
So we are now getting to the point of my blog and the sparkling moment I will take away from this project. The orchestra strikes up and the pressure to deliver is so enormous that you feel your life is on hold, you pray for a little luck and that everyone plays his or her final part to kick the job over the line.
Unfortunately, we did have one technical hitch that fell in the hands of one video operator, this man undeniably had the whole world on his shoulders and the show rested on the press of one console button. Sadly, the magic button failed to trigger key video content and made 45 meters of LED screen into a sea of blue for a seemingly eternal 4 minutes. The entire team instantly dropped a thousand foot into a pit of disappointment, but professional experience means you carry on, focus and deliver the rest of the show.
My sparking moment is not how the team picked themselves up and basically delivered an amazing show, most of the audience didn’t pick up on the glitch and the rest of the show was for the most part, seamless. It’s the fact that directly after the show almost everyone on the team built a defensive wall around the understandably distressed operator and protected him from any impending attention, despite everything, this almost primal instinct was so natural that it made me prouder of the team than anything we had accomplished along the journey so far. It was a Spartacus moment in which fellow gladiators stepped forward in full support of a fellow soldier.
Its less than twenty four hours after the show and although technically we had a few glitches, the overall show was a success and the client feedback was good. Understandably the team is extremely tired and fatigued, we had tears and frustration the wounded operator received unconditional support from every corner. Overall its another experience that makes me happy that I work in such an amazing industry.
Three weeks ago I didn’t know any of these people, yet saying goodbye at the airport yesterday was a wrench that one would associate with long goodbyes to old friends. I’m positive that our paths will cross in the near future and that is something I’m very much looking forward to.