“I was working as a Personal Assistant in a law firm and I wanted to continue studying, so I completed an events and wedding planning diploma. In my evenings, I volunteered to the help the in-house events team with client seminars,” Michelle says, “There was an opening in the team and they asked if I would be seconded for six weeks, which I did, and after about two weeks they asked me to stay on the team permanently. I have never looked back.”
Jumping right into a new industry had its challenges. Michelle shares that she was faced with a steep learning curve when it came to planning events. Michelle says, “To me, not knowing everything at once has always been a frustration, but that’s my personality. I remember sending out an invitation to an event for the completely wrong date and then panicking and having to find a venue to accommodate, because I had sent out an invitation inviting 50 people there on that date. I fixed it, but in the early days things like this can happen and you just learn from it and never make the same mistake twice.”
Beginners mistakes turned out to be important and pivotal opportunities for learning, Michelle shares, “I have learned to always check, check, and then check dates ten times. Check your invitation, check your hotel contract, and check the dates your DMC has. I have learned to always have a colleague proofread any external communications, even if just a glance. I have learned that when you manage a team, your team will make mistakes that will reflect on you as well. It is important to remember no matter how bad things make you look, everything can be fixed, and it is important to reflect and move on.”
Today, Michelle feels excited by her career because it allows her to create magical moments and see the fruits of her labor first hand. Michelle says, “I really love the whole process and seeing it all come together. One of my favourite things is doing registration and seeing how excited and looking forward to an event people are. I love that part!”
Michelle’s passion for events extends past her day job. Now, Michelle runs a networking group for events professionals in the London area with her fellow event manager, Kate.
“Kate and I have been running the group for two years now where we host event managers in and around London for monthly networking drinks and FAM trips,” Michelle explains, “It is so good to see what we have built and see the group grow every day. We have a Whatsapp group where we ask each other questions; this morning, there was a message at 8:00 a.m. asking for a hotel recommendation and within an hour, we had over 30 responses from the group giving their recommendations. It makes me so proud and love what we have created in the events world.”
Now, Michelle is able to give back to the industry by providing fellow event professionals the support they need to do their jobs even better. Don’t forget to check out Event Profs Live to learn more from Michelle.
Manager, Events, Gartner & Founder, EventProfsLive Networking Group
Michelle Rees is a corporate event manager with over ten years of experience working within professional services and is currently a senior event manager managing a range of international events. In 2016, Michelle co-founded Eventprofslive with fellow event manager Kate Bullard, a networking group for corporate event managers in and around London.