Zan Lawther Kilimanjaro Live

#Eventprof of the week: Zan Lawther, Kilimanjaro Live

Each week, we’ll be shining a light on one outstanding individual who’s making waves in the world of events. From passionate event managers and operations professionals to event entrepreneurs, production specialists, and more, we’ll be showcasing those who go above and beyond to create unforgettable events, festivals and experiences. We’re calling this new feature #EventProf of the Week and it’s an opportunity to learn more about outstanding events professionals and how they got to where they are today. Our first #EventProf of the week is, Zan Lawther, event manager at Kilimanjaro Live. Read our Q&A with Zan below…

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

I made the move into the music industry a little over 10 years ago when I realised that life is too short to hate what you do every day. So, I took my administrative experience (and a massive pay cut) and went to work for a promoter [Kai Harris] in Southampton. I looked after every gig from the moment it was confirmed until it was handed over to the show rep and I loved advancing with the tour managers, bands, and venues as well as running the box office at Takedown Festival. I also managed all the content for our monthly listing magazines, interviewing all sorts of bands (everyone from Status Quo to Enter Shikari).

When I moved to London in 2015, I did a little bit of everything for everyone; repping for Kilimanjaro Live and AEG, being the venue rep for Dingwalls in Camden (via MJR now TEG), as well as performing in my own band. But I really wanted to get a job with Kilimanjaro Live. Their ethos fit mine; passionate people who love what they do and really care about their artists and the audience. I hung around like a bad smell, doing any work they could offer me, covering for people’s holidays, briefly joining the marketing team, and even managing the office move! I quickly realised I wanted to work on the outdoor shows, in stadiums and greenfield sites and to learn from Zac Fox [Kilimanjaro Live head of operations at the time] so I carved a space for myself in the event management team and worked my way up to event manager.

What is it about your job that you love doing?

I love the moment(s) when you can stand back and watch people having the best night of their lives, partly because of your hard work. All the stress melts away and everything that was once so important no longer matters because it’s just happening. I also love the moment when you’re finally able to confirm that everyone is off site and on their way home safely. That’s when I can truly relax. The reality, of course, is that 85 per cent of our time is spent looking at spreadsheets but my favourite bit is getting all our planning out on the road and doing our best to make things easy for the tour and the venue. I’m never happier than when I’ve got several radios strapped to me and I’m thinking on my feet.

 

 

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

For me, every time I hear someone say how much they’ve enjoyed working a show I’m running or how great the experience is with our team feels like a standout moment, but I guess nothing beats the first time you call “green for doors” on your first stadium show or festival. I got to do that at Cardiff Principality Stadium with Stereophonics in 2022 and that was pretty special. But you have your moment and then it’s on with the work at hand. I am well known for shedding a few tears at the truly special gigs though, whether I’m working them or not!

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

I would say that making the decision to completely change my life and taking the plunge into doing something I love has probably been my biggest achievement but recently I headed up the team on my first festival and that was a big one for me. I am very proud of the atmosphere we created on a difficult show at the end of a long summer season. That, and getting my telehandler licence!

I cringe when I think about posting a picture of the first ever AAA laminate I was given on my social media – but everyone makes that mistake once (and only once)! And I made it into Ed Sheeran’s documentary, which is both an achievement and makes me cringe. We look like we’re having a right old laugh as he waits to go on stage at Union Chapel. Thankfully, the camera didn’t capture us standing in awkward silence moments later after one of my jokes didn’t land! But then Will Young said: “Please welcome to the stage, Ed Sheeran!” and he went on to have a wonderful show… so all’s well that ends well.

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

Be punctual, be helpful, be kind and absorb as much as you can. It’s amazing how many people you can meet and how much work you can acquire just by showing up and being a decent person. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and if you don’t know what a word means – Google it. Sounds simple but there’s a lot of terminology to learn when you first start. And if you’re working outdoors, get yourself properly kitted out – comfortable shoes are a must and always be prepared for being too hot, too cold, hungry, thirsty or wet.

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 am now deputy event manager for Belladrum Festival in the Scottish Highlands and that’s put me well on my way towards understanding what it takes to run a multi-day camping festival. I went to my first Glastonbury at 15 years old and ever since I’ve thought it would be cool to be able to run a festival, so that’s what I’ve been aiming for.

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