#EventProf of the week: Sarah Payne, event freelancer

Each week we will focus on a StandOut individual who has been extraordinary within the events industry. This week it is Sarah Payne, event freelancer.

How did you get into the events industry?

Well, from a very young age, it was in my blood. The events gene was lurking. My mother worked in sales and marketing for various London event catering companies (catering for events such as the NME Awards) and my aunt is an event producer. I was very fortunate to be offered a job at my auntie’s agency at the age of 19 and she showed me the ropes, working for clients such as the BBC and Sony and I absolutely loved it. My first ever event job was working at a BBC Xmas party, looking after the band Five at the great Hammersmith Palais.



Where has your career taken you and what roles have you enjoyed?

Working my way from runner to event coordinator to operations and logistics director during the last 23 years, I’ve worked all around the world from Dubai to South Africa and many EMEA regions. I’m now in my second year of freelancing specialising in event operations and logistics.

I’ve enjoyed many varied events from awards ceremonies and parties for more than 1,000 people, placing 85 art boxes on the streets of London for display, closing many Westminster roads for the launch of a motor show with a car parade, creating a paint day for 1,500 school kids at The O2 with artist Romero Britto, a SpongeBob movie tour around multiple sea life centres across EMEA, housing logistics for VMware in Barcelona, Aquaman 2 worldwide press logistics, Pokémon experiential events and many more wonderful corporate conferences.

I work with fabulous agencies such as Jack Morton, Ivory Worldwide, Sleek and Havas Entertainment and I get to work with some awesome major brands.

What is it about your job that you love doing? 

The people. I absolutely love being part of a team to bring experiences to life and I want to make sure that they run without a hitch from the outset. I’ve always enjoyed event logistics and ensuring everything runs smoothly – I’ve always got my head in a spreadsheet.

I also love venue sourcing around London and EMEA and I’m very passionate about networking to grow my contacts and my knowledge about new venues and hotels. I can then pair them with the event brief applying the knowledge I’ve gained and knowing the venue fits the event and will add to its success. I then ensure the venue runs like clockwork on-site from a client delivery/guest experience perspective.

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

It has to be working on the Barbie Premiere Afterparty, which was held at the Tate Modern last year. I was in awe of Margot Robbie and Will Ferrell (he’s my most favourite actor ever, I can’t believe I was in the same room). I was heading up the event logistics for the party which was held over two consecutive nights with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. The standout moment for me was turning around a change of venue within eight days and seeing the event come to life. I needed a lot of sleep after that one!

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

I would have to say my biggest work achievement was completing the pre-planning and sailing of a 25-foot statue of Anubis along the River Thames back in 2015. It made worldwide news and a double-page spread in the Evening Standard. If you squint enough you can see me on the boat taking direction from the press boats. The success of this event was extremely satisfying and it’s something to show my son when he is older.

Although that said, I did win Access All Areas’ Event Freelancer of the Year in November 2023.  That was pretty special to have been recognised.

Cringe-wise would have to be recently being in Dubai on a client site visit. We visited an evening dinner and show in the desert, and I was ushered on stage to take part in a fire stunt show, super cringe but I guess someone’s got to do it!

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

  • Get yourself out there! Work across as many different events as you can so you can see the different roles that our industry can offer, find a role that fits your skills best and go for it.
  • Meet people, build a LinkedIn profile and join the event industry social media groups on Facebook.
  • Attend industry events, introduce yourself to suppliers and agencies – ask to go in and shadow for an afternoon so you can get a feel of the different areas.
  • Join staffing agencies so you can see what it’s like to work with household brands or across corporate events.
  • You need to be hungry to learn. If you are passionate you will stand out and the rest will be history.
  • Always ask questions – make sure you have a backup plan for your backup plan – but most importantly. look after yourself. Prioritise, take regular breaks and look back on your achievements and growth. Refine and improve across everything you do.

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 have always wanted to work on The Brit Awards – I have always been a super fan of this event and celebrate it at home every year with friends. Who knows, one day I may get the opportunity to work on it.

My career goal right now is to keep working with the amazing agencies and clients that I have created fantastic relationships with and keep on being a part of dynamic teams delivering amazing events.

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