Exploring Transitions: The Event Planner

April 20, 2020

Welcome along to the first edition of The Bridge; a series of articles taking two seemingly disparate occupations and surfacing some of the common links between them.

One of the industries that’s been hit hardest by the global COVID-19 pandemic is live events. Whether it’s sports, music, or corporate hospitality, live events are places for people to come together and, in the event of a situation like a pandemic, they’re unfortunately among the very first things to be curtailed.

Many events companies have taken steps to move their events online, but there are naturally some limitations on what’s possible via URL rather than IRL. While event planners for a technology venture capital firm may be able to move most of their programming online without too much trouble, sports organizations have instantly become very limited in what they can offer to their fans (not to mention all the related corporate events and hospitality that usually take place around teams’ live performance schedules).

The same largely goes for music festivals, pop-up cinemas, theaters, and many more areas of the events industry. We’ve seen some creative and enterprising replacements - the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) created the ‘Home Tour’ tournament and record labels like Defected are running virtual festivals - but the enormous changes caused by the pandemic have left many live events postponed or cancelled, and many event planners are wondering what to do next.

The event planner skill set

Event planners work with clients to put together every component of a successful live event, whether a small gathering or a stadium show. Some of their work includes selecting venues, determining costs, and arranging event services from vendors.

An Event Planner may also be referred to as an Event Coordinator. One of the main distinctions between the two is that Event Planners typically focus on a client's vision, needs, and budget; while Event Coordinators are responsible for ensuring the details are executed, especially on site at the event itself. Of course, depending on the type of events and clients some planners may also take care of coordination work, and vice versa.

At Fondo, we think the skill set of a professional Event Planner typically includes:

  • Adaptability to Changing Requirements
  • Artistic Sense and Good Taste
  • Attention to Detail
  • Coordination
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Decision Making
  • Interpersonal
  • Judging People and Situations
  • Management of Personnel Resources
  • Planning for Projects
  • Site Management
  • Selecting Vendors
  • Verbal Communication

Many Event Planner skills are highly transferable into other areas, but one we think is particularly interesting is “Judging People and Situations”.

Simply put, “Judging People and Situations” is about considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions in order to choose the most appropriate one to take. One way of thinking about it is as a ‘compound’ skill: something that is composed of two or more separate elements where the resulting compound is more potent than each of the elements alone.

Judging people and situations requires the abilities to listen actively, to analyze data to make predictions, to be self-aware enough to recognize one’s own blindspots, and to make clear and well-reasoned decisions.

Event Planners who develop this skill are well-positioned to adapt to new situations - and in our post-COVID-19 world, the events industry is certain to operate very differently to how it did before.

Now that much of the events industry is on pause, how could the event planner skill set - including judging people and situations - bridge into other occupations?

Here are two options we think are worth exploring.

Digital Archaeologist

The quantity of data and information we now generate is far beyond what we could imagine even a few years ago. As this trend is set to continue to accelerate into the future, Fondo believes we’ll look to a relatively new professional - the digital archaeologist - to help us identify and filter information and re-present it back to ourselves in creative ways.

Imagine being able to get all the elements of your digital footprint - photos, videos, tweets, documents - assessed and curated? How about having your unique digital story crafted and shared with the world based on a brief you set? That digital story could one day be a new type of resume for a job, a birthday gift for a friend, or your entry in the history books.

The digital archaeologist will utilize skills in research, project planning, critical thinking, and perhaps art direction and branding.

They also need to be able to judge people and situations: listening closely to a client’s goals, fears, and hidden needs; being aware of and attuned to other people in a client’s life who may want to have a say in how the archaeology project is approached; making well-reasoned decisions as to why a particular item has been included or excluded from a completed collection.

Because every individual person has many stories - and their digital footprint arguably tells many more - the digital archaeologist will need to carefully judge which stories are appropriate for each situation a client may want - or need - to use them for.

The well-regarded digital archaeologist will be on hand for individuals, families, celebrities, and even organizations to help plan and craft the perfect digital archive experience.

Getting Started

This job hasn't yet fully emerged; we think we'll probably start to see it appear more prominently around 2030, but there are already some opportunities for this type of work if this is a path you’re interested in.

Aside from exploring the occupation’s physical namesake - the study of human history through excavating and analyzing physical sites artifacts - you may want to take a route through marketing and the creative industries. Here, it’s worth looking at career options in social media marketing or personal brand management.

Alternatively, for a more scientific approach, the world of forensics is becoming increasingly digital-focused, and is likely to present a path for future digital archaeologists. We also see opportunities in criminology, data science, and UX design as having skills that will translate well into digital archaeology.

Teen Center Director

As the digital archaeologist well knows, our online world is expanding rapidly. Yet these changes are also driving a need for more connected experiences, especially in-person and particularly for young people. While many in-person gatherings are currently limited, the need for safe and supportive places for young people to get together has arguably never been greater. These may move online in the short-term, but as society moves into the post-pandemic era, teenagers will need continuing support, guidance, and connection as they come to terms with a world that will have changed significantly.

A Teen Center Director typically works within government, education or nonprofit organizations to oversee the operation and development of programs focused on supporting teenagers.

They supervise team members, liaise with partners, and connect with the young adults served by the program or center. A key part of their role is to deliver programs that meet the needs and desires of young people while meeting the objectives of the organization or program.

The programs they direct at their center will cover a range of topics, including healthy living, social responsibility, safe sex, and/or career readiness.

As you can imagine, Teen Center Directors plan and oversee events - and they’re doing so throughout the year. They also need to be able to judge people and situations: teens can often be tempestuous, hard to read, or unpredictable; and can find themselves in challenging situations where they need adult guidance and support. A Teen Center Director with a strong command of this skill will be able to calmly diffuse difficult situations, and know when and where it’s appropriate to pass judgement on the young people they work with.

Being able to plan and create events that meet the needs of this demanding audience is a key part of being a Teen Center Director, as is being able to deftly anticipate young people’s needs and wants as they come together both IRL and via URL in our post-pandemic world.

Getting Started

For an Events Planner interested in exploring a transition into working with teenagers, there are a number of options available.

One route that can segue well into this occupation is to become an Event Planner or Coordinator specializing in events for young people. These organizations can include nonprofits like Little Kids Rock, where the focus is specifically on young people; or corporations that produce live events for a wide range of age groups and build teams to focus in on particular areas of the business. Companies in this category include Live Nation, AEG, Superfly, and SJM Concerts.

Other options include obtaining a qualification in psychology, sociology, or social work. Requirements vary depending on the type of programs a Teen Center Director is involved in, but many centers will require a degree qualification in one of these areas.

The most easily actionable way to get started in the field is to contribute as a volunteer on events being held at a local center. Many centers are nonprofit organizations and are regularly looking for energetic volunteers to help continue and increase their work in the community. An Event Planner volunteer’s skills and experience are likely to be very welcome.

These are just two of the occupational paths we see the Event Planner skill set bridging into.

To see more related roles for this job and its skills, as well as hundreds more across dozens of industries, just jump into Fondo.