It was during my time working in Kenya as brand manager for a high-end brand distribution company that I was faced with one of the most terrifying experiences in my life, a moment where I realised I can deal with any challenge that comes my way.
One night, when walking home from the local cinema, I was confronted by a gang of gun-wielding muggers intent on taking everything I had on me. In that moment of profound fear, where the noise of my heart thumping nearly drowned out their incomprehensible screams, I remained composed and relatively calm, and came out of the situation alive; many before me in the same situation haven’t.
After that episode, which wasn’t isolated (another night I narrowly escaped a kidnapping attempt, saved by a courageous taxi driver), I decided to leave Kenya and fly to the UK, where I would seek pastures new away from the unpredictable streets of Nairobi. I wanted to apply my skills in logistics and ability to perform under pressure, so joined Prysm Group, and my journey into the world of operations began.
Everyone needs inspiration and a guiding hand when seeking a career path, and my boyfriend Jamie, a former Olympic 1500m runner, provided this for me; he made me perfectly aware that overcoming life’s hurdles is down to your own attributes, and I’ve found in my relatively short operations career that diligence, patience, and a hunger to learn helps you to reach your desired end.
As with pretty much any job, a collaborative effort is imperative and I count myself incredibly lucky to have a supportive team around me that continues to teach, entertain and inspire me.
From the very start John Pearce, Prysm’s operations director, has passed on his knowledge, ensuring I’m able to lead the running of the Business Show, which attracts 30,000 visitors alongside 350+ exhibitors and some of the business world’s most important figures.
Under John’s control, I’ve managed to come a long way in a short period of time. His method of teaching, where he combines hard work and fun over a mix of his favourite hip hop tracks, has enabled me to successfully act as the ‘main hub’ to the shows we run – from the Business Show to smaller events like Flood Expo.
It isn’t unfair to say that without the work my operations colleagues and I put in, our shows wouldn’t exist.
Creating an exhibition demands several cogs to perform collectively, but the work of operations is what brings each ingredient together to create a fully functioning event that brings about the desired results for each separate participating party. The sales division are the ones bringing in the exhibitors, the marketing team fill the exhibition hall full of visitors, the content team create fantastic show guides and websites, but operations is what makes all these cogs function effectively.
The job’s major source of satisfaction comes from seeing the end product.
Months and months of hard work, frustration, deadlines, phone calls and emails go into just two days of activity; but if the exhibition halls are full, exhibitors are happy, visitors come away having experienced the event they imagined and my colleagues and I achieve the objectives we set ourselves – this fills me with an enormous sense of pride.
I firmly believe that hard work breeds success, and without a diligent approach to your work then you can’t expect to come away with the results you crave.
Each event my team and I help to organise is the result of hard work, knowledge and enthusiasm. There’s no way the Business Show could have achieved the fantastic success it has done without an operations team that both love what they do and thrive on the challenges ingrained into the nature of the job.
My terrifying experiences in Kenya have helped shape my outlook on how I deal with the pressures that come with my job, and I always remember – whether it’s a gun in my face or an incorrect floor plan – every hurdle can be overcome.
This article was first published in the January issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne