#EventProf of the week: Jack Saward, Saward Marketing & Events

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Each week we will focus on a StandOut individual who has been extraordinary within the events industry. This week it is Jack Saward, director of Saward Marketing & Events.

How did you get into the events industry? Where has your career taken you and what roles have you enjoyed?

Family, particularly my dad, instilled a sense of responsibility in me from a young age. As a child, I earned pocket money by packing corporate event giveaway boxes while seated in front of the TV! While others were engrossed in playing Tetris on their Gameboy consoles, I found myself engaged in the real-life equivalent, meticulously packing a Luton van for upcoming events. There have been instances when I directed the crew to empty and reload a vehicle for better safety and efficiency of space. Throughout my career, I’ve navigated both the public and private sectors, each presenting its own set of challenges. Fortunately, these roles have allowed me to work across various continents, providing valuable insights into the diverse challenges events face in different regions. I view each experience as an educational journey and I’m looking forward to continuing this learning in new countries in the future. In events, understanding the intricacies of different roles enhances your experience and better prepares you to lead moving forward. I firmly believe that dedicating time to shadow or support various positions contributes to becoming a more proficient event manager. This hands-on approach allows for a deeper appreciation of the different roles and an understanding of how the pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Even today, you might still find me on my knees fitting carpet or holding a brush to sweep down a set if it’s needed to get the job done.

 

 

What is it about your job that you love doing?

Creating experiences for people brings me immense joy. Whether it’s a child enjoying a party, an athlete immersed in a sporting event, or a director utilising an exhibition space we’ve designed, witnessing their appreciation for the environment we’ve created remains, for me the best part of the job to this day.

What’s been the standout moment of your career so far?

It’s challenging to pinpoint just one memorable experience, as there are several, each special for different reasons. One that stands out is our first major double-deck, external exhibition space in America, this was over a decade ago. It marked a significant milestone for both us and our client for different reasons, making it particularly memorable. The fact that the event itself was a resounding success added an extra layer of satisfaction. Additionally, contributing to the delivery of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham more recently during a challenging period for the industry highlighted the resilience and excellence of our sector in the UK. Walking through the event, I observed numerous families enjoying sports and reconnecting with extended family and friends. This to me, emphasised the positive impact a successful event can have on people. So, those are two standout moments for you!

What’s been your biggest achievement? Equally, what have you done that you can now look back on and cringe?

Biggest achievement? Well, I’m still actively engaged in the industry, and the fact that people continue to reach out for our assistance with their events is a significant achievement. While it may not sound monumental, trust me, when the phone keeps ringing, it’s a reassuring sign that things are running smoothly. The fact that a substantial portion of our work comes through recommendations is a testament to the hard work we set about establishing a positive culture and commitment to quality. As for the most cringe-worthy moment, it’s a bit tricky to pinpoint a single instance. “Cringe” can be applied in various contexts. I do recall a particular year at a British Aerospace family event when I donned a Biggles fancy dress outfit. At that time, I was considerably younger, and the cringe factor escalated when I found myself paraded around with colleagues dressed as characters like Dennis the Menace. However, such experiences have desensitised me, and I now willingly embrace dressing up for charity events. My most recent venture was Fred Flintstone riding on a dinosaur. Let me reiterate, all in the name of charity!

What key pieces of advice would you give to someone starting in events?

With two ears, two eyes, and one mouth I believe the wisdom lies in listening and observing twice as much as speaking. Our sector offers numerous learning opportunities, and all you need to do is actively seek them out. Understand your value, but don’t rule yourself out of opportunities without first earning your credentials. Once others recognise your capabilities, they’ll want to retain you. However, if you don’t initially seize opportunities to showcase your potential, it may go unnoticed. Getting your foot in the door is the crucial first step to being acknowledged for what you bring to the table.

What career goals do you have and where do you see yourself heading? For example, is there an event that you would love to work on but haven’t?

To keep enjoying working within the sector. I’ve got to the stage now that if I don’t enjoy a project, I won’t do it again. However, if I’ve never tried it, how can I make that call? There are so many more projects I’d love to work on and other countries I’d like to experience delivering projects in. I’ve got a sports background so there are plenty more sporting events I’d love to work on both here in the UK and abroad. However, I also still love growing a client’s presence at events across the globe. Seeing them start with one or two in their calendar and now deliver for them across three or four continents is something I still look on with pride. My main career goal is to continue finding fulfilment in my work within the event sector. At this point, I’ve learned that if a project doesn’t satisfy me, I prefer not to take it on again. That’s a difficult decision to make in your younger years as finance becomes the focus, however, I’ve become far better at walking away from projects that don’t fit, either me or the business. However, I’m also open to trying new things to better understand my preferences. There are numerous exciting projects out there I’m eager to work on, and I’m particularly interested in expanding my professional experiences to countries I’ve not yet had the opportunity to work in.

If you would like to nominate someone for #EventProf of the week, please email marketing@standoutmagazine.co.uk