INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN IN THE EVENTS INDUSTRY PART 9: Holly Moore, Founder and Managing Director of Make Events, Manchester, UK

I’ve always liked to spread the word about people doing great things – whether that be friends and family, colleagues, or in this case – fellow events professionals.  My ‘who run the world’ blog series champions inspirational women in the Events Industry; sharing their stories and thoughts on the ever-evolving world of Events Management.  Whether you’re an aspiring events student, director or CEO I hope you find inspiration and enjoyment in reading about people who have inspired me on my journey so far.  I’m a strong believer in the theory that ‘empowered women empower women’ and today I’ll be sharing another empowered woman leading the way in the #eventprofs world.

I’ve always tried to fill my social media feeds with positive and exciting event inspiration, which is how I stumbled upon Make Events and founder Holly Moore.  I was instantly drawn to Make Events and their images of exciting, innovative experiences; from product launches to awards ceremonies, it was clear their knowledge and passion created truly memorable events tailored to each client.

The Founder and Managing Director of Make Events is Holly Moore. Make Events is the North’s leading corporate events agency, headed up by Holly and based in Manchester.

Launched back in 2012, Make Events has gone from strength to strength thanks to Holly and her team’s wealth of experience and devotion to the audience experience, and I’m pretty sure after having a look at their event portfolio – you’ll agree with my decision to feature Holly Moore and her journey as part of my ‘Inspirational Women in the Events Industry’ blog!

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What really stands out for me after following Holly and Make Events is their confidence and clarity with attention to detail and really knowing a brand or client and its audience.  I was excited to hear more about how Holly got to where she is today and share her story with my readers too.

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

I diverted the University route and entered straight in to a retail management trainee scheme.  I enjoyed the hospitality aspect of retail, so realised that is where my heart lied; and over 20 years ago I made the move to work in hospitality and events in a local venue. There I learned the full scope of disciplines within a venue and my career spanned Reception Manager; Duty Manager and eventually as Events Manager.

In 2007 I made the move to head up the employee engagement events for pharmaceutical giant, AstraZeneca. After four years I decided to leave; with no job to go to.

In 2011 I went freelance working for a local event agency and bar doing business development and marketing. During this 12 months, I saw a gap in the market within the celebration sector; I felt that you could look at events and know straight away which event organiser had done them.  I wanted to make events that were about the client and not the party planner.

Make Events was set up in 2012 to design creative, exciting and unique events for the corporate client and in the last 6.5 years the business has grown significantly in terms of turnover and staff.

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?

When I started Make Events, there was a feeling that all female owners of events companies were ‘bitches’, ‘miserable’ and ‘ball breakers’. I just thought “What if I could work hard and be nice – would I be able to build a successful business?”

I haven’t faced any gender-related discrimination, but I am working in a female-dominated industry, and 89% of our clients are female.  Within the organisation, we have both male and female Directors, earning the same level of salary.  We advocate females being able to continue in their career following maternity leave, and offer examples of this throughout the business, utilising the freelance model and shaping other more ‘9-to-5’ positions for parents.  Our projections show growth, and we encourage our people to think how they might fit into it as children become a part of their lives.

I speak regularly on panels about my role as a business woman, through which I have become increasingly aware of the fact that women that can have children, are full-time mums, can’t have children or choose not to have children should be valued equally in society in general and the workplace in particular.

We do have a higher proportion of females to males in our business, but that has been driven by meeting our talent requirements, not a conscious policy on our part.

What’s the motivation behind Make Events?

In 2011 I left my full-time job heading up events for employee engagement as AstraZeneca, with no job to go to, after a boss treated me unfairly.  After a year of freelancing and testing the market I was 100% sure what I wanted to do…. Make Events. I’d seen a niche for unique events delivered in a nice way.

I always thought big and never wanted to be a solo party planner. My passion was to deliver events that were bespoke to the client and not reflective of the event designer.  I also wanted to look after clients through the good times and the bad.  I had heard so many times “oh we just don’t get looked after” I vowed to look after clients in the same way whether they had a small event, large events or no events in the pipeline.

Starting at my bedroom desk on 15th July 2012 – Make Events was born! And from that day on I have put my heart and soul into creating a brand that will make people happy whether they are attending and event or working for a team.

I read the Blue Ocean Strategy many years ago about carving your own path and not looking behind you at the competition.  I don’t follow any competitors or I would have event envy every day and want to be doing all their events!

We are totally carving our own path, we are not following the usual job titles or roles and responsibilities which makes us unique and difficult to compare to other agencies.

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Where do you look for inspiration?

I am quite self-motivated to succeed.  Without sounding pompous I want to succeed for me and all those other people that may have obstacles they feel they can’t overcome when I know they can. I am properly my hardest critic.

Then I would say my team and my customers inspire to me.  I would never want to let either of them down so I just need to keep going for them even when I feel I can’t.

At the moment I take a lot of inspiration from Carley Jones Kettlebell Kitchen; Marnie Millard Vimto and then Chris Morris Citation who has always supported me.

Then the big guys like Tony Robbins and Oprah Winfrey as I think their thought leadership is truly exceptional and proven so their teachings inspire me to be the best version of me.

I love my job so much because it’s a combination of everything I love in life.  As mentioned the university route wasn’t for me, because I find it hard to apply myself when reading study material and applying it to false situations. I have always loved learning through live seminars (not webinars); reading; podcasts; one day courses.

Beautiful food and beverage excite me.  Finding a really unique and quality food establishment excites me.  I will research where to get the best latte or the best local dish and make sure I try it there.

Decors and interior nourish me.  I love finding ideas on Pinterest and Instagram and tweaking my home with Magic Touches (one of our brand values).  I love property I did up 3 houses in 3 years and now have a rental property, my home and I am investing in a flat in Manchester.  I would love to own a base in London.

Books mainly nonfiction, inspires me.  I love learning anything new and keep lists of my pearls of wisdom.  I truly love finding new ideas and ways of doing things.

Travel – I haven’t travelled as much as wish I had in the UK or overseas. I always knew the first 5 years would be pure grind and now I am making time for travel as it inspires me on all those levels.

Group fitness and the wellness industry.  I was always the last to be picked at school for any sporting activities but when I discovered the fun you can have at the gym with friends I started to work out and now I am addicted to the feeling.  I like either personal training or group classes so even when I travel I will find a Barry’s Bootcamp or something fun to do.  I also like to run sometimes but only short distances.­­

3 top tips for aspiring event professionals?

Learn from the bottom up – work in a venue, work as a supplier then work in an agency then you learn all spokes of the wheel.

Understand the best way you learn – for me it wasn’t Uni but I could read and listen to seminars all day so that is how I grow my learning.

Give a little – it’s such a competitive industry that you may have to do some kind of work experience or volunteer to get a look in at something.

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If you’d like to find out more about Make Events, you can find them here.

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