INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN IN THE EVENTS INDUSTRY PART 7: HELEN MOON, EVENTWELL AND EWL

I’m excited to share the latest blog post in my #whoruntheworld series on inspirational women in the events industry.  This series came about as I wanted to dedicate a section of my website to write about people paving the way and doing great things in this field of work; not necessarily ground-breaking or award winning things – but people that have inspired me, either with their achievements, message or even their Instagram feed.  And they just so happen to be women, because I think it’s so important to look out for one another and shout about each other’s achievements.

This week, I’m sharing the story of an Event Professional who has dedicated her time to nurturing and supporting the wellbeing of fellow #eventprofs at a time where we need that support more than ever, and also the professional development within the industry in a way that has reinvented the concept of networking and conference learning all together.

I’m always looking for new groups and opportunities to be a part of, and earlier this year, discovered ‘EWL Club’ and consequently its creator, the fantastic Helen Moon.

With an eclectic mix of events experience spanning 21 years it’s no surprise that Helen Moon heads up Eventwell as Director and Co-Founder, the event industry’s charitable social enterprise and resource for wellbeing advice, knowledge and support. Having worked in event production, venue operations, proactive sales and digital marketing, Helen now focuses on promoting a proactive approach to work culture, championing the wellbeing of event professionals and equipping them with the knowledge and skills to stay healthy and happy.

She also focusses on equipping event professionals with the skills they need to build stronger business connections based on depth and substance, and develop innovative business ideas collaboratively via stimulating conversation. As CEO and Founder of EWL Club Helen has been bringing event professionals of all experiences and backgrounds together for regular topical debate through her belief that approaching business collaboration from an authentic standpoint yields better results.

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I’ve experienced both ventures first-hand; initially by attending a talk headed by Eventwell at the Conference and Hospitality Show earlier this year which really inspired me to be more mindful of myself and how I view success, and then at the fantastic Annex 18 Event – which you can hear more about by following this link.

Helen is also an Alumni of the Event Academy (formerly Ashdown Academy) which is who I’m currently completing my (online) Postgraduate Diploma in Events Management with, so I thought hearing more about her successes and thoughts on the industry would be really interesting for my fellow Event Academy students, too.

Can you tell me how you found your way into the events industry?

I’ve worked in events for over 20 years now and fell into the industry completely by accident really. I started in 1997 although had been organising meetings and events before that so maybe it’s actually even longer than I actually talk about? I was an executive PA working in Manchester in my early 20s and looking to cut out the commute – sent my CV for a PA role close to home, and was actually asked if I would be interested in an event co-ordinator role they had, the rest as they say is history.

Despite being a female-dominated industry, there are fewer women taking senior and boardroom positions- where do you think we stand today with the ‘glass ceiling’ for women in the world of events?

I think huge steps have been made and we are starting to see a difference but there is still work to be done, although I do question the existence of a glass ceiling in today’s industry or whether or not we are still subconsciously creating that barrier for ourselves.

Real change will be achieved together as an industry and I’m not a huge fan of female only initiatives as I believe that resolution requires debate and understanding by both parties to be effective. I understand why they exist and I applaud the massive achievements that we have seen in the industry however, I think having more conversations where men and women come together will be the real catalyst.

I also think that as women we need to be more confident in regard to our own abilities and our value proposition in the workplace, and that doesn’t necessarily mean becoming more manly in our approach, but proudly offering up our unique attributes as the female gender; sensitivity, tolerance, nurturance, compassion, listening, caring, all unique skills that can make a huge difference to the longevity and direction of a business.

Confidence comes from believing in yourself, not necessarily from experience. You can have all the experience in the world but if you don’t believe in yourself then you will never take that step forward or push yourself to go for a position that you probably quite rightly deserve.

What’s the motivation behind EWL / EventWell?

With EWL I wanted to create and launch a forum for event professionals that would take the pain out of networking and make it easier for us to meet and make genuine connections with one another. I’m also of the belief that the sum of the experience of the people attending an event will always be greater than on any stage and we should be doing more at our events to tap into this knowledge. For a long time this has been overlooked, and EWL events bring people of all levels and experience together to share insight and knowledge. I was looking for that insight when I swapped from the supplier side to the client side of the business and saw there was a real need and desire by other event professionals for the same level of engagement. Attendees are the most important factor when it comes to an event, and should never be overlooked. That’s what EWL aims to do, our network is all about our members and our partners and bringing them together in person to build genuine relationships built on trust and collaboration.

EventWell was born from a desire to make a difference and help people who may be struggling and in a dark place, or maybe just looking for some help and guidance before they get to that point. As someone who has been there herself many times, I suffered burn out and a horribly lonely time in 2008/2009 as well as on and off periods of depression before being diagnosed with Bipolar, creating a support hub and just getting the industry talking to one another about what has always been a taboo subject for event professionals was my biggest motivation.

We’ve just come to the end of the second Event Wellbeing Week, and I’ve been saying all week that to think just 2 years ago that we would have even had an Event Wellbeing Day, let alone a week and it to be the second campaign was unthinkable. We have come so far in just 18 months and that is extremely gratifying. I’m incredibly proud of what’s been achieved and that’s what motivates me to keep doing what we’re doing, as to put it quite simply I know that EventWell is helping people, and has kick started a massive movement for change in the events industry in terms of how we look after ourselves and each other.

Where do you look for inspiration?

I like talking to people and listening to their ideas and opinions on different topics in the industry. More so now that I am older I think. It’s important to listen to other peoples viewpoints so you can make great, well researched and rounded decisions. I’m lucky enough to have built some good relationships in the industry and I take the time to invest as much as I can in those relationships, even if it’s just a quick chat over a cup of tea. Checking in with people who inspire you is so important.

Also for me taking the time to switch off can be incredibly inspiring too, as it’s sometimes then that some great ideas happen. By switching off you are allowing your brain time to process information and giving yourself space to see things much more clearly for what they are. Some of my best ideas can come when I’ve actually turned my attention to something else, also the reason why I carry around an ideas book.

3 top tips for aspiring event professionals?

– Slow down and take your time, don’t try and achieve everything in a flash, you need to be able to spend time observing too and taking notice, it’s really important.

– Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s from your mistakes that you’ll learn the most.

– Network and by that I mean in person – face to face, allow people to get to know you and what you are about in the flesh. This will help you to establish genuine deep rooted relationships that will be a support to you in the future.

I have no doubt that after reading this Helen will have inspired you in the same way as she has inspired me, so do check out Eventwell and EWL.

I’d love to hear who inspires you in the Events Industry?

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