Justin Leung is director of Ambition.
How do I take my events career to the next level?
I’m an events manager working in the marketing department of a local university and am responsible for organising a multitude of regular small- to medium-scale university events. I’ve been doing this for over five years now and really want to take my career to the next level by getting involved with managing some of Hong Kong’s flagship spectacular events – things like Art Basel or the upcoming Formula E. My concern is that I don’t have experience organising anything on that level and that hirers will be looking for people who can demonstrate dealing with the complexity of such events. How do I make my dream come true?
You are not alone – many of the candidates I speak with are in similar situations. As I tell them, it’s important to approach the situation from an employer’s point of view. When making hiring decisions, employers generally consider two main factors.
Firstly, they assess whether the candidate possesses the skill set needed to perform the tasks required in the role. Secondly, they consider whether the candidate has the right attitude and is a cultural fit that aligns with the rest of the organisation.
Both factors carry a certain weight and one is not necessarily more important than the other. I have seen candidates who do not possess all the skills required for a role and yet, through hard work, they become hugely successful and valuable to their organisations. However, I have also come across candidates who were hired because they offer exactly what the role requires, but turn out to be the wrong fit or, worse yet, a liability to the organisation.
Oftentimes, a strong work ethic, combined with the desire to be successful and a positive attitude, can compensate for a lack of experience and skills.
While you may not have had the opportunity to organise large-scale events, there may be other aspects of your experience that an employer will value. I recommend that you pursue and explore different types of opportunities with the organisations you mentioned.
If you are given an interview opportunity, be sure to share your passion for the event management industry and your desire to be involved in organising Hong Kong’s flagship events.
At times, full-time or permanent positions may not be available in the sector. If an opportunity for a short-term contract presents itself, consider it seriously, as it may be a good stepping stone to a long-term position.
I also recommend you focus on upskilling through a career change. There are many event management companies in Hong Kong that are actively hiring, and account servicing and project management positions are often in high demand. These opportunities could offer you excellent exposure that takes you a step closer to your dream.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as How do I take my events career to the next level?