UKCEM 25 Years Alumni Stories: Amy McNicol
Sports Event Management alumna Amy McNicol knew she wanted to pursue a career in sports marketing and events. Her journey took her across the world to New Zealand where she is now the Director of Global Sponsorship with AIG.
Course studied: BSc (Hons) Sports Event Management & Event Management HND
Years of Study: 2005 - 2009
Current Position: Director of Global Sponsorship, AIG
Can you give us a quick overview of your career since finishing your course?
Graduating from the Sports Event Management course in 2009 with first class honours, I moved to London to secure a role in sports marketing. I was laser focused on networking and I volunteered at sporting conferences to meet people working in the industry. Through my networking I was introduced to an executive at Manchester United and this led to a contract role in the sponsorship sales office. In time, this led to a full-time role, which culminated in a move to Old Trafford managing global partnerships for the team. It was a blast and I learned so much from my time at the club.
In 2012, I emigrated to New Zealand looking for a new challenge. Even before arriving in NZ I was networking with industry representatives, mostly via LinkedIn. I met some wonderful and generous people who connected me with others and shared their insights about the industry in NZ. Once again, I volunteered at events to build my contacts before securing a role as Sponsorship Manager at New Zealand Cricket, before being head hunted for a role with AIG. Today, I am the Director of Global Sponsorship with AIG with a focus on our New Zealand Rugby and All Blacks partnership.
Do you have any stand out memories from your time studying at the UK Centre for Events Management (UKCEM)?
The practical nature of the course really suited my learning style and the guest speakers and their stories made a big impact on me. The group work and executing on real life events was a stand out for me. I had the opportunity to volunteer on a number of major sporting events including the Youth Commonwealth games and rugby finals at Wembley, all made possible via the University.
Another highly valuable element of the course was the placement year. I worked for Toyota and Lexus and this was instrumental in developing practical skills to support my theoretical knowledge and gaining real world experience.
What skills did you learn at the UKCEM that have helped you in your career?
I learnt many skills during my studies including multitasking, working to deadlines and collaboration and working with others. The course helped me to develop my ability to work creatively and flexibly.
On the practical side of things, I also gained a foundation in health and safety and the financial and legal frameworks surrounding event delivery.
What has been the stand out moments so far for your career in events?
Sitting next to Sir Graham Henry (former All Blacks coach) at the opening match of the Rugby World Cup 2015 at Twickenham was incredible as well as the British and Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand, including watching a game with Sir Clive Woodward.
Travelling the world creating memorable experiences using the Man Utd and the All Blacks assets has been amazing and I also got to film a TV commercial on the iconic Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo.
How have you and the sector you work in adapted your practices in response to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic?
We have been extremely lucky in New Zealand to have experienced limited lockdowns, however our events and hospitality industry has taken a huge hit. The appetite to host and be hosted was limited last year. This meant a massive gear change to online interactions in 2020. This digital change has continued in 2021 and it is now standard to offer a web-based option for live events. This isn’t without its challenges but it has created new ways to reach our audiences and broken down geographical barriers. I am very excited about delivering a global program of live events this year and just hope there are no more major setbacks.
What advice would you give to any looking to start a career in the events industry?
The important thing is to network and make the most of all the interactions you have with people in the industry. Volunteer at events that interest you to gain experience, build your contacts and learn from all the people that give you opportunity.
Host your own events and use these as a chance to test things out. Then on a fundamental level, always treat everyone the way you would like to be treated.