Inspirational woman : Kate Connell

As Event Concept’s Project Director, Kate oversees the planning of our complex and major events, as well as heading up our team of in house freelance producers.

With a strong eye for detail, a strategic mindset and an unflappable nature, Kate brings a wealth of knowledge and a methodological approach to any project and enjoys nothing more than leading a team of experienced Producers and Project Managers to deliver extraordinary projects precisely and efficiently.

Kate Connell, Project Director, Event Concept

Originally published in M&IT. Read the original article here.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and current role

I’ve been working across events and theatre since I was 17! My first experience was as a volunteer at a couple of festivals both as a stage manager and as a local crew assisting the lighting team. I fell in love with the buzz of live events pretty much immediately but originally didn’t even realise it was something you could do as a career!

I abandoned a degree in psychology halfway through to move to London to study technical theatre and stage management at LAMDA, and actually first encountered Event Concept on a work placement in my second year there. I then started at EC as a freelance lighting technician, before coming on board full-time as a production design assistant, and the rest is history!

In my time at EC, I have gone through the ranks from PDA to producer, and a couple of years as an account director heading up some of our financial services and media clients, before establishing our creative studio back in 2018. I quickly also tagged a budding content department onto that, before adding digital just in time for the pandemic to hit.

After successfully recruiting some amazing leads to take over Creative and Content I am now very much enjoying being back in the role I enjoy the most, as Project Director, leading a team of producers and overseeing the delivery of our major events, as well as sitting on the leadership team at EC as we continue to grow both in the UK and globally.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, not as such. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work for a company that believes strongly in entrepreneurship and that provides a lot of autonomy, allowing me to explore new routes of my career at each turn (and lucky enough for each of those turns to have been successful!).

I have always wanted to be at the forefront of delivery, surrounded by like-minded, driven, and knowledgeable teammates, and in a buzzing, creative environment. Outside of that, I have always been willing to turn my hand at the task that needed doing as I firmly believe there is no such thing as wasted experience. That said… I am incredibly competitive as far as career planning goes. I guess I mainly always wanted to make sure I was the best at what I did, and part of that drive was always a desire to keep progressing. It was definitely more of an organic journey than a step-by-step plan.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I suppose the main challenge I’ve faced has been keeping up with the ever-changing needs of a rapidly growing firm. I have worn a lot of different hats during my time at EC, sometimes multiple hats at once – constantly managing the balance of delivering in my day-to-day role, and fulfilling my role on the leadership team, all whilst keeping an eye on the next challenge coming round the corner which might need by focus and attention. A juggling act for sure but one that always keeps me on my toes and feeling challenged, which is so important to make sure you always continue growing, both in your career and as a person.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Keeping the company going during COVID-19 and all the challenges that came with that. Not only keeping going but coming out of that period all guns blazing then delivering our biggest year to date. All without losing sight of the core values of the company, the kind of place of work we want it to be, and the kind of projects we want to keep on delivering, both in the UK and globally.

I would also have to list the establishment of the creative studio at EC – it was something I fought hard for, for years and I’m delighted to see that department now independently thriving under the wonderful leadership of Layla.

Then there is my team and colleagues – both current and past. I’m so proud of seeing my previous teammates thriving in other agencies or sectors of the creative industries, it gives me a real kick to see people who came to EC completely green and new to the industry now spreading their wings and shining.

Last but not least we have delivered some really exciting global events over the past few years of course! Especially seeing core events and clients returning year on year, proving that those relationships are as solid as ever.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you acheiving success?

My absolute refusal to believe something isn’t possible and being stubborn enough to make anything happen. I was raised to believe there were absolutely no boundaries to what could be achieved, and with the confidence to have a go at anything, I definitely wouldn’t be where or who I am today without that.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in events?

  • Trust your gut and throw yourself into it. Don’t ever let anyone tell you it can’t be done (for whatever reason that may be) – there is always a way and you have just as much of a chance of succeeding at it as anyone else.
  • Seek advice from those who have walked the road before you and find your tribe. Events can be a stressful environment and you will perform better if you have a strong network of advisors around you (as well as those people who will take you out for a glass of wine to vent when the pressure is on!)
  • Work hard and set your standards high. If something is worth doing it is worth doing well, efficiently, and thoroughly, especially in events where attention to detail and leaving no stone unturned is essential.
  • Don’t accept the status quo. Just because something has been done a certain way previously, doesn’t mean it’s the best way for this particular project, this time around. Question and explore.

What barriers for women working in events, are still to be overcome?

There are still huge challenges around life logistics when it comes to women in events – in regard to flexible working, childcare, and menopause. Things are improving with the evolution of flexible working but there is definitely still more work to be done, especially in an industry known for long hours, often away from home.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in events?

Provide equal opportunities to everyone and see your people for their skills, aspirations, and behaviours – regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, abilities, religion, or sexual orientation.

What resources do you recommend for women working in events?

Networks such as NOWIE are great for meeting like-minded people and gaining great connections across the industry.

Contact Us

Units B2 - B4
Galleywall Trading Estate
Galleywall Road
London SE16 3PB