Events Industry Pros: Masters of Versatility and Jacks of All Trades

By Board Director, Ben Ferry

For such a long time I was uncomfortable at not having one discernible key strength.  I wasn’t the best salesperson… I couldn’t sell ice to Eskimos.  I also was far from the Don Draper of our marketing team.  That being said, I always performed reasonably well across all of these areas, and it served me relatively well in my career.  Over time however, I started to realise that this WAS my strength.  There weren’t too many people that could lean into all these areas and execute as effectively as I did. 

Spending time recently at MEA’s annual Evolve conference in the Hunter Valley, I was reminded of this realisation I had as I witnessed the current talent in the events business as well as our future leaders coming through the pipeline.  Our industry truly is incredibly well served by these “Jacks (and Jill’s) of all Trades”.

The phrase, “Jack of all Trades” was originally used to describe a playwright who was always hanging around the theatres. He would help with the stage, the set and the costumes. He would remember lines and try directing. This so-called jack of all trades was in fact William Shakespeare.  People that do a bit of everything sounds a bit like some of our event organisers already, doesn’t it.

So how does someone become a Jack of all Trades?  It boils down to three main areas… Curiosity, Skill Building and Diversifying your Interests.

“Curiosity may have killed the cat” … “but satisfaction brought it back to life”.  That’s the full proverb and speaks to the mindset that scratching our itch of curiosity can be incredibly rewarding.  This is one area that I feel event professionals already perform above the industry norm.  The very nature of our roles mean we have to be curious.  But even after a lifetime of being curious, a week at our Evolve conference showed me how much more I have to be curious about.  Our Day 1 closing speaker, Rowdy McLean talked about how we can all play a bigger game.  I love this because no matter the starting point, our game can always be bigger.  I’m curious about where I can take mine from here.

Building your skills is a lifelong pursuit that we must embark upon.  The world is constantly evolving, and we risk being left behind if we stay stagnant.  As many of you would know, MEA is an accredited Registered Training Organisation (RTO) and provides a variety of webinars, short-courses and can even develop bespoke training for you and your organisation.  Webinars are a fantastic member benefit that help expose you to a wide variety of skills that might currently be useful in your day-to-day job or even help bring new skills in to your remit.

Diversifying one’s own interests and understanding might be third in this list but arguably is one of the most important.  The value of diversity of thought, background and experience has been proven time and time again in benefitting organisational impact.  MEA’s wide reaching representation across the entire events industry provides a solid foundation of diversity that is there for all of us to tap in to.  I encourage all members to make the most of our various state branch events and personal development sessions to engage with our MEA community.  We have such amazing value to provide one another and the forum to engage already exists.

Our members are an incredible collection of Jack’s of all trades.  I do believe that we can all continue to flex these muscles.  MEA has an impressive suite of resources available to help you do so.  Whether they be tools or connection with colleagues, they are there for you to make the most of.  Will you let curiosity of your potential kill you?  Or will you let the satisfaction bring you back to life?