Careers > Exposure meets… Ally Pally’s events management team

Posted on December 1, 2017

Concert at Ally Pally courtesy of Alexandra Park & Palace Trust

Emma de Duve & Ursula Mutingwa find out what’s behind the big events
Who doesn’t like a good gig, but what does it actually involve to set up one of these huge operations? The events team at Ally Pally give us an access all areas pass to find out more about the industry.

Ursula Mutingwa: Can you describe a typical working day?

Stephan Hickey (Senior events manager): Let’s take a concert for example, a huge amount of pre-planning goes into a concert. We’ll liaise with the promoter, they’ll email something called a rider, which is all the technical information about what the band needs in the room, the stage, the rigging, and then we back and forth with the promoter before the event, book all the staff, get the whole venue ready. Then when they rock up for the event about 7:00, all the trucks arrive and they will rig and build the whole show. They sound check during the day and then by 17:00 you’ve pretty much done a whole day but then get ready to open doors to the public at 18:30. We get everything ready outside, ELT (Event Liaison Team) meetings, security, then you open the doors, the whole gig happens, closes at 23:00 and then you’re here for the load-out until about three in the morning! So it’s a really long intense day, but it’s really fun.

Holly Parker (Events manager): So as you can imagine it’s not for the faint hearted. It’s long hours but there’s so much to do that the day flies by and you get to meet some incredible artists, producers and people in the industry. There’s not a dull moment.

Kelly Wood (Events services manager): The crazy hours are not every day, you get a gig-day which is really long, but you do have some office days where you start at 9:00 and finish at 17:00.

HP: There’s a lot of administration that goes with any event planning. It’s about the pre-planning, that’s why the event goes well because you’ve thought of absolutely everything that could happen.

UM: What do you enjoy most about your job?

HP: I think it has to be the variation. So one day you could be working on a film and the next it could be a concert, but also working on really big show-stopper events. We do some great ones here like our fireworks display, Redbull Soapbox Derby, the darts. I really enjoy working on those events that everybody knows about.

Emma de Duve: What do you find challenging about your job?

HP: With live events there are no rehearsals, so there’s nowhere to hide if you’ve forgotten to do something. It’s about learning from your mistakes and not letting it drag you down. It’s about being good at finding solutions.

ED: What do you look for in a potential employee?

SH: Most of the time it’s the kind of people that fit in, people who can work with other people. You kind of know when you speak to someone, if they’re a good communicator and if they’ll fit in with the team. There are certain skills you need with any job spec. but you can teach people things and train them up, so it’s about the person in events more so than it is about the qualifications.

HP: It’s also about a passion for events, being able to show that you really enjoy going to gigs and festivals and that you’ve had work experience at a certain venue, speaks a lot about a person, or if they’re already actively engaged in what’s happening in the events industry or in their community.

One day you could be working on a film and the next it could be a concert

KW: It’s not an industry where you’ll need to have a relevant qualification to succeed. People come at events from all kinds of places and spaces and a lot of the time end up in the industry, which is often just as valuable because of the other experiences they’ve had. I also think’s it’s very handy to have a skill where you can remember about 15 different things at once!

UM: How many people are there in your team?

KW: We have 12. There are four event managers, and then Stephan who’s the senior event manager. We also have a head of events operations who runs our team but also liaises with different departments. We have two people in health and safety. We also have a venue operations manager and he has a team of three or four people who move all of the chairs and tables around. They use fork lifts, handle deliveries and put the signs up and lot of other things like that. Then there’s myself, who manages all the cleaning. And we have a project manager who focuses on all the home-grown events.

HP: That’s just one department. Then you have marketing, fundraising, sales, finance, and we have contractors coming in, including medics, security, traffic etc.

ED: What advice would you give to a young person that would like to get into events?

SH: Get out there and go and see events which is good fun. Try and get work experience.

HP: Work experience is key but go to as many events as you can, so you develop a taste for what you like and what you don’t and what you think works well.

SH: We’re lucky in London there’s so many events, you can do anything in London so it’s just getting out there and getting involved!


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