Inspirational Women in the Events Industry Part 8: Claire Derrick, Principal and Co Founder/Director, The Event Academy

I was inspired to start this blog when I began really immersing myself in the Events Industry whilst juggling full time work and part-time study with The Event Academy.   Being part of such a supportive group of Event Professionals; from lecturers to fellow students and alumni has been a real highlight of my studies, and there are plenty of people to share the journey with so far.

The Event Academy is so much more than a course provider; it’s a community, and the ethos, passion and professionalism from each member of the team creating and delivering the course content has made me even fonder of the industry.  But to create such a strong platform and community (of over 25 event experts delivering the course and over 2000 alumni so far) needs a core group of passionate founders, with the motivation and experience to drive the academy forwards and continue to inspire the Event Managers of tomorrow.

I’ve been lucky enough to hear from one of the Event Academy co-founders, Claire Derrick, on her thoughts on the industry and what it means to be a woman working in events today.

Claire has worked on events all over the world- with a background in business and marketing and some incredible experience right across the board from fundraising to consulting and corporate sponsorship.

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

I never planned on having a career in events and somehow ‘fell’ in to the industry! After my degree I went travelling round the world and ran out of money (much the same as any self-respecting graduate!) On my return to London a friend told me that a position had come available with a small charity – half the job was as a PA to the CEO and half as an event assistant. My first ever project that I worked on was a Scottish Highland Ball at The Banqueting House in Whitehall, and I fell in love with events. Since then I’ve never looked back!

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?

The event industry is no different from any other industry in the UK! I think that although times are changing and there is a lot more scope for women to progress in the industry, things are moving very slowly. As women we have a LOT to contend with (not least our own mind chatter and the feelings of guilt we can often have trying to fit everything in and be perfect at our job and personal life). I hope that as a Mum myself, I am raising children who see the value of hard work, the benefits that a successful career can bring but also the joy of being with friends and family – there MUST be a balance for women and men for life to actually mean anything.

What’s the motivation behind The Event Academy?

Along with the other Founding Directors (two men and two women!) I am passionate about creating skilled, work-ready individuals who can instantly add value to an organisation. When I ran my own business, too often I would employ someone who looked great on paper; only to find that they didn’t know how to put into practice what they had learned at College or University. This was frustrating and cost me precious time and money in training them to do a job that I was paying them for! We therefore set up the Event Academy to stop this happening – so far we’ve done a good job of fulfilling our mission!

Where do you look for inspiration?

Good question! Hmmm, OK so I am always snooping around the internet….there is SO much inspiring stuff out there whether it be for event management, leadership or self-development. I watch a lot of Ted Talks (www.ted.com) that are great for just expanding the mind! I practice a traditional form of Karate where the ultimate goal is spiritual, ethical and moral self-improvement – I take great inspiration from my teachers who display great humility…a trait that is hugely powerful yet not used enough in modern business. Lastly, I look to my team who amaze me constantly with their energy, passion and professionalism – I want to be like them!

3 top tips for aspiring event professionals?

  1. Never lose sight of the important things in life – family and friends will be there when jobs come and go…they can help you keep balance in your life
  2. When you are at work, be 110% committed to EVERY task you do – and do it like your life depended on it
  3. Develop your emotional intelligence. People with emotional intelligence can communicate effectively, have motivation, self-confidence, decision-making ability, and empathy, which in turn can bring success in business life.

To find out more about The Event Academy, its team and courses check out their website here.

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