This week’s EventPro Spotlight focuses on Adam Ford, a production engineer who graduated from ACM Music College with a degree in Creative Music Production. Starting out as a student, Adam very fortunately fell into an exciting role at Congo Blue Design, an established London based Fashion and Events Production company. Adam also actively delivers jobs as a live sound engineer for multiple local venues, with his main focus being production engineering for fashion shows, conferences, theatre and exhibitions.
We interviewed Adam to get his personal take on the pitfalls of starting in events from college, his views on the industry and also to glean some insight into how to really crack the business. While he’s not a freelancer himself, he has some really valuable pointers to offer any ‘young hopefuls’ looking to start a career in the events industry, specifically starting as a technician. This is what he had to say:
What was it that led you to follow a career in events?
It was purely accidental. I volunteered at a local festival just to get an idea of what large-scale sound engineering required. I ended up putting up fencing and managing bins.
As a student, where and what did you study, and, how did you land your first job?
I landed my first job (through Congo Blue, been there 2 years now) at the local festival mentioned above. Congo Blue were providing the tech and staging, so I got invited to the warehouse to help prep a show, and it all went from there.
What do you think makes a great freelancer in the events industry?
A great freelancer, from a full-timer’s perspective, is someone who can throw themselves into any situation and independently problem solve and self manage. Equally, a good freelancer is someone who you can trust on-site to represent your company in a good light.
What areas do you think you can improve at?
I feel one of my weaknesses is a lack of specialism. I will happily run any system in sight, be it power, lighting, sound, video etc. But I feel I would be more valuable if I were to have a specific specialty focus. I am currently researching a Masters in Acoustics for this exact reason.
If there was one thing you wish clients knew about freelancers, what would that be?
I’m not sure I can answer that as I’m not a freelancer, but from my friends who are freelancers: We have been hired for that job as professionals, so let us work. Don’t micromanage or patronise.
What kind of people shouldn’t get into the freelance game?
I feel that a freelancer needs to be able to work both independently and well with a team, while also having good etiquette towards clients. They need to be able to take instruction and get stuck in. I feel that if someone has an issue with any of that then they might struggle with the freelance game.
What makes the perfect client?
A perfect client is someone who respects how you are helping them. Someone who provides plenty of information about the job well in advance and someone who is organised within themselves and arrives on site with a plan, warns of the issues immediately and is aware of their own job.
How do you think Brexit will affect you in your line of work?
One of my colleagues is Italian, so there was a (not serious) fear we would have to sack him and find someone else. I don’t do a lot of work abroad so I’m not sure exactly. I imagine it will affect the exhibition industry as so many companies come from Europe to trade. That may knock on to us.
What advice do you have for other event students who are looking to follow in your steps?
My advice to students will be to ignore the money initially, do things for free to make the contacts. I would also encourage anyone new to the industry to listen to everything. People will respond better if they feel you are respecting their experience and trying to better yourself. Assuming you know everything from the word go never goes down well. Be humble. It’s the old saying of “who you know over what you know”.
“My advice to students [just starting out] will be to ignore the money initially, do things for free to make the contacts.”
Whilst it is refreshing to gain insight from an industry veterans’ perspective, we hope that you agree that Adam gives us a slightly different view on things. We hope that if there is one thing our young readers take from this, that it is the mindset and attitude that is required to not only land that first job, but to really stand out. Cheers Adam!
What are your views on the industry? Is there a question you feel we have missed or someone you think we should interview? Let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.