#EventProf of the week: Karen McColl, DF Concerts

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The events industry is full of amazing people, who don’t get enough credit for doing brilliant things. So, every week, we are shining the spotlight on someone who we know is doing a great job. Say hello to Karen McColl, project manager at DF Concerts.

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

I started as a PA in the financial industry and then moved into TV/media. When I got made redundant in 2006, an assistant role was advertised supporting the event manager of T in the Park and I jumped at it, purely because I loved the event. One thing that I wasn’t fully expecting was the fact I would be behind the scenes laminating and putting up signage all weekend but, looking back now, all the tasks like this that I did at the beginning of my career were extremely valuable and gave me such a well-rounded knowledge of everything that goes into a major event.



What is it about your job that you love doing?

I just love events! Going to them, organising them, hearing people talking about them – everything. It’s a real pleasure to be involved regardless of what role I’m doing.

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

Leaving DF Concerts as a PA in 2010 and coming back as an event coordinator in 2018 has definitely been a highlight for me. It made me reflect and see everything that I had achieved over those eight years to improve my skill sets. I still get goosebumps thinking about the last night of TRNSMT in 2019 and being so proud of what I achieved when I had been away for so long.

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

I went to university to do a Masters in Event Management when I was 36 and just after I’d had my second child. A huge part of that was purely to say to the world that I can do this job – but give me the paper to prove it, thanks! During the course, I applied for a scholarship to help fund an opportunity to volunteer at the Paralympics in Rio and I got it. That was a huge achievement that I’m very proud of, and the Olympic experience was a dream come true. As we are all only human, I do occasionally mess up. I cringe when I remember how I nearly gave out a prohibited item in a VIP swag bag last year. That was an awkward call from the safety manager.

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

I have done a lot of work experience and volunteering to get where I am, and I would recommend taking these opportunities when they come along. It opens doors and gives you experience that you can’t learn from reading a textbook. Go to events as a punter even if it’s not your scene – there is no better way of learning how to create the best customer experience. And finally, pick up the phone and talk to your suppliers and colleagues. Email and messaging are great and easy but it’s quicker and also nice to have a chat with the people you’re going to spend most of your summer with.

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?

I’m lucky that DF Concerts has a network of events and opportunities to collaborate which is encouraged. I got the chance to shadow the silver event manager at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend last year and meet the team involved there, which was great. I’m keen to go overseas next but there is so much to choose from. A South American Lollapalooza or similar would be a highlight for sure.

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