how to become an event planner

Corporate Event / meeting Planning Careers

In this section, we'll look at the pros and cons of meeting/corporate event planning careers—as described by a professional; Sharyn Scott, former Global Head of Events for international law firm Linklaters.

With experience of working both in-house, at an agency, and even as an independent contractor throughout her corporate event planning career, Sharyn has a fairly good overview of the what it’s like to work in the meetings and corporate events sector of the industry.

Sharyn Scott
Sharyn Scott

Sharyn Scott is the former Global Head of Events for the law firm Linklaters, which has 28 offices throughout the United States and Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

Sharyn’s role encompassed the full spectrum of corporate events from corporate hospitality, dinners, and staff holiday parties, to conferences, global partners’ meetings, and client receptions throughout USA, Europe, and the Middle East.

Prior to working at Linklaters, Sharyn organized events world-wide for Citibank, Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas and the travel company Going Places, a division of Thomas Cook.

Pros of Corporate Event / Meeting Planning Careers

Salary and Benefits

“There’s a massive disparity in salary between working in-house for a corporate and working for an agency. Agency pay is usually significantly less, with no benefits package and less vacation. In the corporate sector you get quite well looked after in terms of salary, pensions, life insurance, health care, a gym, and restaurant on-site—and there’s a certain amount of security that comes with that.

Job security means you can have a mortgage and you can plan for your future in a way that would be much harder to do if you’re freelancing.

Also, working in corporate events and meeting planning there’s some nice little perks like business class long haul travel, staying in nice hotels, chauffer driven cars that take you to and from the airport, and getting to eat nice food when you’re travelling.”


Working in a Corporate Environment

“I really enjoy all the elements that come with corporate life; working in a really nice building—which is a fantastic modern office with lots of on-site amenities like a gym and restaurant, being in an environment with professional, well educated people who talk to you intelligently and respect you, and getting to dress up and wear nice smart clothes.

In a corporate environment, you have to be well turned out, so I like that I have an excuse to get my hair and nails done regularly and wear nice clothes, because that makes me feel good. That’s just my personal preference; I quite like a bit of power dressing—if shoulder pads were still in fashion I’d be wearing them!”


Dealing Directly with the Client

“Working in-house, we’re very much on the frontline dealing with our internal clients. The person who is hosting the event is the person sitting in front of me.

Often in an agency, you’ll have a middle person between you and the actual host of the event. If I were an event planner at an agency organizing a corporate event or meeting, I would probably be dealing with an in-house event planner or a secretary representing the actual host of the event. Sometimes there are a lot of layers in between you and the person you’re working for, so you can’t get inside that person’s head to really understand what they want—and for me that’s a big frustration.

I want to speak to the person who wants this event—to get inside his or her head—so that I can deliver the best possible event for them.”


Owning the Entire Event

“In an agency environment you sometimes end up doing more of the admin churn—not always—but in my experience I’ve found that I’m often just one cog in the machine. So, as an event planner you might be focused on doing the contracting, or the database registration; you’re not necessarily going to be doing the creative—they might have a separate design team, or creative director for that—and that’s the bit I enjoy.

I like creating the event from start to finish; owning it and delivering it. Often in an agency you won’t work on all the elements, you’ll just work on bits. Working in-house in corporate events and meeting planning I have my own events to produce from start to finish and I come up with the ideas and present them to my client.

I love that I get to manage the budget for them and that I hold the purse strings. I quite like the fact that in a corporate environment, it is absolutely my neck on the line—I have to deliver that event, for that budget. I much prefer that to just being a middle man.”


Creative Thinking

“I get to work on some amazing projects where the host will come to you and ask for a creative solution for whatever it is they’re trying to communicate. Sometimes they won’t know what sort of event they want to create, they just know their objective, and they come to you for the ideas.

Often with meetings and corporate events you get some really interesting challenges, because the type of people we entertain get invited to the same old thing all the time, so we have to think, ‘what can we do that’s different to make them want to come to our event?’

Cons of Corporate Event / meeting Planning Careers

Type of Events

“You’re more limited in the types of events you’re going to be working on with corporate events and meetings. We do some lovely and creative events, but the spectrum is more limited. Also, large corporates like us can’t be seen to be overly extravagant—because there’s a perception issue and you have to manage that—so that can also restrict what you’re able to do with the events.”


It's Not Glamorous

“Most meetings and corporate events aren’t that glamorous compared to special events. While they might involve business class travel, accommodation, and catering, or they might have really high standards, they’re never going to be as exciting as working on a film premiere or a showbiz party.

Not to mention the work itself can be pretty unglamorous. Only last month I was down on the floor crawling around on my hands and knees gaffer-taping wires to the floor of a conference hall.”


Being Overruled

“With corporate events, you’re always answering to someone else. You may be able to influence, but if someone wants something, you just have to do it. The corporate events department is there to service other departments within the organization and sometimes clients have very fixed ideas about what they want. Even if you know what they want may not be the right thing for them, sometimes you have to just do it.”


Maintaining a Corporate Image

“You do have to invest some of your salary in your wardrobe; business suits, dry cleaning, and grooming, which you don’t really have to do in an agency. The way you look is important, so you have to take that on board; having your hair done regularly, coming in with make-up, having your nails done.”

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