We meet Victoria, who is getting events back up and running at the glorious Harewood House and planning for the first open air production of MAMMA MIA! this summer.
No two days are the same in my role as events manager at Harewood House Trust and that’s the thing I love the most about my job: the variety. Yes, most of my days at the moment are currently spent working from home due to the pandemic, but in usual times, because I oversee such a varied and diverse area of the business, one day I could be stood in the middle on an event field taking sound readings, surrounded by thousands of happy, smiling visitors, and the next I could be managing an exclusive fine dining experience or drinks reception in the house for a prestigious brand, or even royalty.
It also helps that I get to work in such an incredibly beautiful setting; not everyone’s lucky enough to say that their place of work was just recently voted as Yorkshire’s Large Visitor Attraction of the Year, too!
One of the Treasure Houses of England, the historic Georgian house, surrounded by acres upon acres of stunning parkland, provides the perfect backdrop for any event or filming project. We have a growing programme of events which covers a broad portfolio of both public outdoor events and indoor venue hire. Events range from music concerts and large sporting events to weddings and conferences, and we’re always on the hunt for more new and innovative event opportunities and ideas to bring to Harewood.
My day ordinarily starts just before 9am, however, as anyone who works in events will know all too well, this can often be at the crack of dawn in the midst of the events season! Needs must though, as it’s always important for me to be one of the first people on site to ensure that we’re all set and good to go for the day ahead (the beautiful sunrises over the estate definitely do help with the very early starts though, particularly since I don’t drink coffee!). At the moment, most days are currently spent working from my dining room table at home, with views out of the window overlooking my garden – I often find myself wishing I was back in the office with views over the vast Capability Brown landscape instead though.
Whilst my laptop is firing up, I check my emails on my work phone in an effort to start prioritising the day ahead. I oversee commercial event and filming activity here at Harewood, so I’m often spinning a number of plates at once. I was taught the importance of prioritising my work load from my previous line manager early on in my former role as events and marketing coordinator, as managing and coordinating so many different elements and events alongside each other throughout the year can prove to be a bit of a juggling act. She also taught me to always wear sun cream and wear sunglasses; those long hours spent in an event field can play havoc with your skin and wrinkles – some of the most invaluable advice she ever gave me!
I’ve certainly seen an increase in emails from the night owls since the start of the pandemic, possibly as a result from home-working, so I hit the ground running from the moment my emails load on a morning. Having said that, I think the pandemic has seen a shift in the industry as a whole. With many of us now predominantly working from home for the time being, I can certainly say that the length of time sat on phone calls (or more so on Zoom right now) with clients has definitely increased – I think people miss the camaraderie of working in the office!
We’ve changed the way we all work over this past year and I’m not going to lie, probably at least once or twice a day I find myself thinking ahead to later in the year, wondering what events are going to look like then and what speed bumps, if any, we may hit along the way.
Arguably, the biggest challenge we’re all tasked with this year is ensuring the safe delivery of events in these challenging times, but having said that, safety is what we do best as event professionals, isn’t it?! That said, I’ve also seen a positive impact come out of the pandemic, namely in the way that my clients, colleagues and myself are continuously adapting to the changes and challenges that are put in front of us, on what seems like a regular basis at the moment. This has made me even prouder than ever to work in this wonderful industry with such a resilient bunch of individuals.
Jam packed calendar
Much of my time at the moment is spent finalising our, what’s hopefully set to be, jam-packed calendar of outdoor events for this year. Work is already starting on next year too. As you might expect, this involves a lot of conversations, meetings and paperwork in making sure we have all of our ducks in a row, covering everything from risk assessments and traffic management plans to licensing and dealing with the local Safety Advisory Group. This does however also mean that outdoor site visits are back in business and there’s nothing I love more than being on site discussing exciting future plans.
I can’t wait to start delivering live events again and I’m lucky that I get to work with so many hardworking, dedicated and like-minded clients, both new and repeat, who are all aiming for the same goal as me – to deliver an incredible, successful event, all with the best possible customer experience.
One of the events that I’m particularly looking forward to this year is MAMMA MIA! which is coming to Harewood for its first ever, open air stage show in August. It’s been a lot of work behind the scenes and is something that has never been done before at Harewood, but it feels great to be playing our part in getting not only the events industry back open for business, but also in supporting the arts on their return after a difficult year for all. We also have a number of other exciting event announcements coming up over the coming weeks, so do keep your eyes peeled for more.
Nearly every day of my working week is spent working on smaller pieces of the big jigsaw puzzle and the hours are often long, but it all feels like a step in the right direction in getting the industry that we love back up and running again.
Leeds LS17 9LG
0113 218 1094