WINNER SPOTLIGHT – Emily Haigh

Events Management/Logistics newcomer of the year Emily Haigh talks to us about her career highlights and why networking is so important.

Emily, Did you study? If so, where and what?  

I did, I went to Leeds Arts University to study Visual Communication. I initially wanted to become a graphic designer, and spent 2 years freelancing in the music industry creating logos and tour posters for artists. My career path changed at the end of my 2nd year of University after my first taste of the Live Events Industry, and I specialized in creative events design for my final year. In my final projects, I planned and produced a charity art exhibition for Breast Cancer Awareness and then designed and produced an event completely in virtual reality. I graduated in 2023 with a First Class Honours. 

What was your very first industry role and how did you get it?
My very first industry role was being a Wristbander at Leeds Festival! It was an incredible experience to be a part of something with such a large production. 3 years later, I am now a Gate Manager for Festival Republic during the summer and also consult on gate plans for other well-known festivals. 

What has been your biggest achievement or ‘pinch me’ moment so far?
Definitely Leeds Ball 2023. I was a key member of the planning and production team for the 6000-capacity student ball that the University hosts every year. It was a huge amount of responsibility, I solely managed all the Artist Advancing, Liaison, and Accreditation. It was my first big break into the industry, and watching 2000 students partying in one room and having a great time felt like a massive achievement and I couldn’t believe how great it felt once the effort had paid off.

Is there one person who has helped or pushed you, been a support?
My manager, Debs. I began my career at Leeds University Union in 2022 as the Club Night Supervisor, and slowly climbed the ladder to be in the position I am in now. I’ve had so much support and advice from Debs and she has really pushed me to reach my full potential. I’m so grateful to work in a flexible, supportive environment and have someone who really truly wants me to succeed.

Where would you like to be in 5 years from now?
I would love to be working full-time in festival production. I’m excited to see where my career path takes me and I’m sure I’ll rise to the challenge of whatever comes next for me. 

Is there more industry should be doing for newcomers?
Paid internships and trainee roles are few and far between! It’s a hard industry to really get your foot in the door, and more paid opportunities would be fantastic for newcomers. Everyone was once a newcomer, give someone new a chance!

How important is networking for newcomers?
It’s crucial. Even from one night at production futures, I have come away with work that I wouldn’t have dreamed of getting before. Don’t underestimate the power of Linkedin either! 

Will you come back to the awards as our guest next year?
Absolutely! I can’t wait to be back for a catch up with some amazing people. 

How did you feel when you won the award?
Shocked. Liz from No-nonsense really gave me a challenge with the shortlisting questions, I felt really out of my comfort zone. However, it did give me a boost of confidence knowing that I am capable of great things if I put my mind to it. Always give something new a try… you never know, you might actually be good at it. 

What made you want to work in the production industry?
I really did just fall into the industry. I fell in love with events from my first ever festival, and haven’t looked back since. You meet people from all walks of life and the long hours truly are worth it. I was never built for a 9-5, so events is perfect for me. 

How has winning this award affected your personal or professional life, and what are your future goals?
So far, I have made some amazing contacts and already started progressing with my freelance career! I hope to build on the work I do outside my full time role and travel the world working on events.

What advice would you give to other newcomers who aspire to achieve similar recognition?
Work hard! The more you put in, the more you get out. It’s not an easy career to choose, but speak to everyone you can and be willing to try new things and you’ll succeed. 

Are there any upcoming projects or initiatives that you’re excited to work on and why?

I have a few top secret projects under wraps at the minute.. watch this space!

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