UKCEM 25 Years Alumni Stories: Laura Lindley
In the space of just a few years, Events Management alumna Laura Lindley moved from managing events at Celtic Manor Resort to managing events and hospitality at Cardiff City FC. She shares how her degree helped to shape her career ambitions and why she aims to add the element of surprise to her events.
Course Studied: BA (Hons) Event Management
Years of Study: 2011 - 2015
Current Position: Event and Hospitality Manager at Cardiff City Football Club
Can you give us a quick overview of your career since finishing your course?
I graduated from Leeds Beckett University in 2015 with a degree in Events Management. Straight from graduating I briefly took a role as Conference and Banqueting Operations Manager at a hotel in Knutsford before moving to Cardiff to be closer to my partner and to expand my knowledge within the event sector.
I then moved into an Event Manager role at the Celtic Manor Resort, home to the 2010 Ryder Cup and the 2014 NATO Summit and was there for two and a half years. The events at the Celtic Manor Resort ranged from small dinners to large conferences of over 800 people who had travelled from all over the globe. The experience and contacts that I gained from this role was truly amazing and it really opened my eyes to the world of events.
After two and a half years I decided that it was the right time to leave the hotel industry and to investigate the sport sector where I took the role of Hospitality and Events Manager at Cardiff City FC. This role has given me the freedom to create memorable experiences for football fans but has also given me insights into the Football Industry and to expand my knowledge within different areas of events. I have been at Cardiff City FC for the past three years, and I feel that I still have a lot to learn from the role and I can't wait to see what the future holds.
Do you have any standout memories from your time studying at the UK Centre for Events Management (UKCEM)?
My most memorable experience on the course would be the live event that we had to put together in our final year. It took everything that we had learnt throughout the course and place it in a real situation. It was so fun to do, and we had to think on our feet, and it also showed us the importance of planning!
What skills did you learn at the UKCEM that have helped you in your career?
The course subjects are extremely broad, and it feels more like a business course that is then applied to events which definitely opens so many opportunities for you when you graduate. The course touches upon many different sectors within events which is a great as it really helped steer the direction in which I wanted my career to go.
The best thing I ever did was my placement year as I learnt so much working in the industry and I felt that I understood the course so much more when I arrived back after that year away. I would definitely suggest taking that year out as there are so many benefits of doing so.
UKCEM also recently offered some free places on their Post Graduate Certificate in Events Management course, and I was lucky enough to be able to get one of them. So I am actually currently picking up some new skills as we speak!
What has been the standout moment(s) so far for your career in events?
I feel like there have been so many great moments and even though I only spent a small amount of time working within the wedding industry, there is no feeling like being the only person to see the moment a bride shares with her father before they walk down the aisle. That was always my favourite part of weddings and I felt extremely privileged to be there for so many special days.
There have been many events which stand out, but if I had to pick a specific one my favourite event would have to be a partners’ dinner that I organised from start to finish. For this particular event, the client had requested an element of surprise all the way through so we built a full dining experience for 700 people on a polo field and transported them all there without them knowing where they were going or what they were doing. It was really exciting and the element of surprise is what I look for in events and what I strive to achieve.
How have you and the sector you work in adapted your practices in response to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic?
As I work in the football industry, it was devastating to close the stadium and for the games to take place behind closed doors. My role as Hospitality and Events Manager changed considerably and we found ourselves adapting our roles to fit in with the new demands that were coming into the club. Instead of attending the matches to oversee the Hospitality elements, I was now attending as a ball girl!
Our roles within the office also changed and we were trying to see how we could help local businesses stay afloat by offering to share what they had to offer via our social media channels. It has been an extremely tough time for all businesses impacted but there was a real sense of community around Cardiff.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to start a career in the events industry?
The main piece of advice I would give would be to get some experience. I would look to volunteer for different types of events, whether it be parking cars at a festival or laying tables for a wedding, as event companies look for dedicated employees that have a wide range of skills. Also, don't just volunteer, make sure you attend as many events as you can to understand them from the customers point of view. That's also an excuse to go out and have some fun!