What is it really like to be an event planner? What aspects of your job do you love? What lessons have you learned along the way? With our ‘Confessions of an Event Planner’ series we aim to get under the skin of our interviewees and find out what it really takes to be a creator.

Tiffany Levy, Compelo

Tiffany Levy is Global Head of Events for media company Compelo, where she organises events for publications including New Statesman, Elite Traveler, Spear’s and World of Fine Wine. Tiffany hoped to be a singer-songwriter, having studied at Brighton Institute of Modern Music, but an internship where she helped plan events for Norman Cook (AKA DJ Fatboy Slim) changed the tempo of her career.

A part of my job I wish I could change…

“I really do love my job. The only negative is working within budgetary constraints. Coming from a creative background, I’ve got lots of extremely creative ideas but sometimes I’m restricted in what I can do. We are a corporate company so obviously, everything we do has to be justified financially but it would be amazing to have complete creative freedom.”

What I was most surprised to discover when I started working in events…

“I was surprised to discover that very few events completely run smoothly. There’s always going to be issues arising both pre-event and during the event, but it’s how you handle them. That’s part of the event planner’s role and what ultimately leads to a successful event.”

The advice I wish I’d been given at the start…

“When I started I didn’t realise how big an industry events was and where it could lead. Speaking to younger people in my team, they’ve all been given the advice that you need to go to uni and study to do what you want to do. That being said, I think having a degree of any description, not only in event management, is valuable. It shows you’re able to stick something out and you develop a different skill set, living away from home and mixing with people from all walks of life. I also think that experience from other jobs can be useful. I used to waitress and when I hire I often look for people with experience in the service industry or in promotions, as well as in roles like PAs and office managers. Admin experience is so useful.”

Something I wish others understood…

“Events is not a 9-5 job. I’ve had to sadly miss out on key milestones in my friends’ and family’s lives because of important projects that I can’t get out of or because I’m travelling. It’s just the way it is.”

My secret weapon is…

“Having a great team around you that you can trust is by far the most important thing. Although, on a personal level, I think being completely solution orientated is my weapon. I always find a way to make things work and never give up.”

The biggest lesson I’ve learned…

“Sometimes you just have to let go and trust other people to do their jobs. I run a really busy team and we organise over 300 events a year. I can’t possibly be signing off every single tiny element of each project so it’s been a really tough lesson to let go and really trust in people. I’ve had to learn to allow them to execute the project to the standard I want but maybe not exactly how I would do it.”

My hairiest moment (and how I pulled it back)…

“It was probably when I was running an event for my CEO in Saint-Tropez this summer. We were at Nikki Beach entertaining a group of 40 for lunch and he decided he wanted to throw a boat party that night, with celebrity impersonators. I had four hours to research, plan and make this party happen, whilst hosting a lunch for 40 guests! Being in France, I couldn’t speak the language, which made it all the more challenging. In the end, though, it was an absolutely amazing night. We had an Elvis impersonator on the yacht, which was parked in St. Tropez port, and as he was singing, everybody walking past stopped to watch. We had a group of about 300 people surrounding the boat. It was fantastic. To be honest, I probably do work better under pressure but that was a bit much!”

My secret ambition is…

“I really would love to be the owner of an event venue. I’m in my early thirties now and I hope to have children at some point. As I said, organising events is not a 9-5 job, so it can be difficult to combine with family life. I think owning a venue would enable me to stay involved with events but allow for a bit more flexibility.”

What the attendees don’t know is…

“I can’t possibly tell you that! The whole point about events is that people walk into that room and they are absorbed into a seamless experience. I would never want to give away our secrets.”

This was embarrassing…

“I’ve had many a heel break and a skirt split when I’m running around events. Now I’m always prepared by having back up shoes and a backup outfit. It’s just happened to me so many times, and when you’ve got a smart dress on with trainers at a corporate event, it’s never ideal.”

You may not be a seasoned event organiser with stories to tell yet, but it’s easier than ever to get started! Check out our resources page and access a host of ebooks, guides and tip sheets to set you on the right track.

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