Future Event Roles and Skills: Talent, Training, and Succession Planning for Tomorrow’s Events.
New skill sets, job roles, and team structures are emerging with the digitalization of events, along with a surge in upskilling and training.
Future-proofing event careers was the first topic on the agenda at VEI’s recent Summit ‘Future Event Roles and Skills: Talent, Training, and Succession Planning for Tomorrow’s Events’, sponsored by Intrado Digital Media.
To provide fuel for the panel debate, Matthew Pycock, Director of Global Talent Acquisition at Intrado Digital Media was interviewed by VEI Co-Founder and CEO, Sophie Ahmed, on how event professionals can future proof their careers.
Pycock said there has been “huge growth in the need for digital solutions and talent, which will only increase as the sector moves at pace towards hybrid events. Intrado Digital Media hired 350 people globally last year, due to the necessity of our solutions, and we are aggressively recruiting this year as we’re seeing a similarly high level of demand for talent.”
He continued: “For those looking to make a move into the virtual online events world, or combine their skills to adjust to a hybrid model, this is definitely the right time to start futureproofing your career.”
The most important thing event professionals can do is upskill, recommended Pycock.
He suggested mastering new technologies, enrolling in training courses, gaining certification, and “setting aside time each week to upskill and increase your
Following Pycock’s interview, moderator and VEI Content Director Emma Hilditch introduced the panel and encouraged viewers to submit questions via the platform. Participants were also asked to answer a poll to discover if companies are changing staff resources as the industry moves towards a more hybrid model.
The results revealed a mixed picture with 52% of respondents saying they were making some staff changes, while 47% are continuing with their existing teams.
This poll kicked off a discussion around staffing. To overcome some of the new challenges brought about by digitalization around talent and staffing, Janice Rogers, Corporate VP, Human Resources, Diversified Communications, recommended: “Look at your existing talent base and do a skills gap analysis to discover which skills you need to build up and to make sure you’re providing relevant training opportunities for employees who have the aptitude to work in the digital and live events space.
"There are definitely transferable skills there. Also, look externally to more diverse talent pools to fill the gaps.”
“In the short term, there are going to be some freelance and contract positions to fill some of those gaps,” replied Mike Frost, co-founder and global recruitment director, Expocast.
“Remuneration is going to be an issue, particularly if you compare events to the tech industry, or the energy sector, for example. In the long-term, we need to be approaching educational institutions to ensure more young people are aspiring to join events.”
Organizations will need to work harder to attract top talent, said Catherine Dogra, head of digital marketing at Informa Connect. She said: “Companies need to be masters of their own PR. We need to work hard to ensure we're attracting talent and working with graduates, offering apprenticeships and running local mentoring schemes.”
Rogers pointed out that offering flexibility and hybrid working can help to attract talent, but it can be challenging to manage teams effectively and maintain company and employee cultures.
She suggested that PR efforts should focus on “differentiating ourselves from other industries. We may not be high tech or the highest payers, but there are reasons that people come to work” in events. “We need to work out what compels people to work for us and get the word out.”
NEW JOB ROLES AND FUNCTIONS
New roles emerging include virtual event producers and project managers, and webcasting jobs. Intrado Digital Media, for example, has a new position called a ‘solutions tier-three specialist’ which is responsible for diving deep into platform and product-related issues.
They are also helping to develop next-generation solutions as the tech is so new that there is a limited number of people in any industry that possess the skills and depth of experience.
Chris Mitchell, VP Operations, Intrado Digital Media, added: “One area where we are potentially seeing a new role emerge is hybrid event production. Someone needs to tie together the online and the onsite experience.”
In Frosts’ observations of the recruitment market, he has noticed “more upskilling, rather than brand new roles”. “From a sales perspective, there has been a shift away from phone bashing towards a much more consultative and solution-selling approach. There's a big push for digital marketers at the moment, whereas before it was more marketing generalists."
“With digital events, businesses are now drowning in data and need people to generate better data insights for content and their customers. There's more of a focus on content and therefore PR roles. Everything is much more customer-centric.”
And new job roles will continue to emerge as the events sector evolves, pointed out Tracey Judge, founder, and CEO, Soundings: “The people that we need – they don't exist. We're all growing and changing. As the industry continues to learn, we will continue to map out the new positions that need to exist. Initially, we will need a lot more talent as everyone adjusts, and where we are going to continue to need talent is in the virtual piece.”
Training and certification in virtual and hybrid events is a huge asset for candidates and a great way for event organizers to futureproof their careers and businesses concludes Mitchell: “If someone from a traditional event planning role has upskilled themselves, it tells me they’re adaptable, flexible, and willing to learn. Upskilling is a very good move to