UKCEM 25 Years Alumni Stories: Gavin Eldridge
Events Management Alumnus, Gavin Eldridge talks about studying at the UKCEM and his role as the regional lead for #wemakeevents.
Course Studied: BA (Hons) Events Management
Years of Study: 2001-2005
Current Position: Production Management – In Flow Events
As part of his BA (Hons) Event Management degree, Gavin completed a placement year at the British Psychological Society, organising their events. After graduation he secured a role as a Production Assistant at The Dobson White Partnership, where he progressed to Production Manager. Since then he went freelance and set up In Flow Events, an events management company which he runs with his wife Georgina. He has played a central role in the #wemakeevents campaign which was founded in response to the difficulties the events industry has faced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We asked Gavin a few questions about his time at the UK Centre for Events Management (UKCEM) and how this had led to a successful career in the events industry.
What did you take from your time studying at the UK Centre for Events Management (UKCEM)?
The most important thing I learnt was the importance of networking. There were around 100 people studying on my course, many of whom I still have personal and professional relationships with, not least the best man at my wedding who also has a successful career in the events industry. You really do find friends for life at university.
What has been the standout moment(s) so far for your events career?
There has been a whole range of events I have worked on which have been standout, many of which are detailed on the projects section of the In Flow website. However, if I was to pick out two highlights these would be:
Piccadilly Circus Circus
This event saw Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street, Piccadilly, Lower Regent Street and Waterloo Place transformed into a pop-up circus as part of the London 2012 Surprises campaign. There were stages across the entire area as it became pedestrianised for a one day only spectacular, culminating in an incredible overhead show of "Place des Anges" by the Studio de Cirque. The setup for this project, including standing on roof tops overlooking Piccadilly Circus hanging out high wires was definitely a standout moment.
Lumiere London 2016
2016 saw the Lumiere staged in London for the first time. This was a truly spectacular event which involved closing roads and pedestrianising areas people can rarely walk down without the drone of traffic. We worked in the section of the event around Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square down to Westminster Abbey with TILT, a French artistic studio that focuses on light and its interaction with art, architecture and urban spaces.
How have you and the events industry adapted your practice in response to the Covid-19 pandemic?
During the pandemic I have been the Event Team Lead and Steering Group Member for the #wemakeevents campaign. The focus of the campaign is to raise awareness and help minimise the impact that COVID-19 is having on the events industry, as well as supporting those affected. I wanted to use my experience in the industry to support others through a difficult, uncertain time and my involvement arose via a contact from my first job after university. Gary White from the Dobson White Partnership asked if I wanted to help co-ordinate the campaign’s activity.
The first major event was held on 11 August - ‘Red Alert day’. This included a procession alongside the river Thames, using the tagline ‘Throw us a line’. Across the UK 715 buildings lit up red to symbolise the danger faced by the events industry. This included Portland Place at City Campus.
The campaign was then taken worldwide on 30 September with the ‘Global Day of Action’ which involved over 25 countries, with activations delivering a range of creative responses, such as lighting iconic buildings in red to beaming shafts of white light into the sky to highlight the mass job losses.
Colleagues from the industry also took part in #TheSurvivalTour bike ride in October covering 1500km. During the tour they stopped off at over 50 of the most iconic festival, tour and performance venues that have all been standing empty, dark and silent, since the start of lockdown. We have also established an online platform, ‘Speakeasy’ where events professionals can connect and access support over the festive period.
What advice would you give to any looking to start a career in the events industry?
The events industry is all about relationships. Take advantage of every opportunity that is given to you at university, from networking to work placements. You never know when you might be grateful of these connections in the future.
You only get one chance to get events right, so focus on the details. Establish what people want from an event and then ensure it’s delivered.
It’s vital to work on these two areas as success within the industry is about building those relationships and sustaining them by developing trust. Aside from this, just try and get as much hands-on experience as you can, look for opportunities to put your learning into practice, be hungry for information and always ask questions.
The events industry is exciting, fun and challenging but one thing is for sure, no two days are the same and you will continue learning throughout your career.