Having been on both ends of the events spectrum, Barclays’ Damion Breust lays it out for anyone thinking of making a switch to the client-side.
As I look back at my career in the events industry, the image that comes to mind is a set of concentric circles with me at the core. My career begins in the smallest of circles, starting with the city Brisbane; the circle then expands to a bigger, national, circle, further expanding to encompass New Zealand and the Pacific, followed by the next, larger circle which is the international platform, where cross-border, cross-cultural events are the norm.
What happens next is not what I had ever expected. And no, the next circle is not the universe (though there may be some in the industry who are vying for this position), it is probably what you would least expect – the corporate world. For me, Corporate is the largest circle, encompassing as it does each of the others and existing only because of its relation to them. Yes, I am responsible for the Asia Pacific region, but events for our various stakeholders may take place in London or Azerbaijan for example, and my most invaluable tools are the knowledge and insights gained through my hands-on experience, travels and multiple years in the industry.
After many years working on the agency side, I joined Barclays in 2008 and am now the regional head of event marketing, Asia Pacific. I have gained great insight through working in-house – insight into a brand, marketing, market penetration through events, sponsorships and the experience of managing events across 12 unique and culturally distinct countries across the region. The nuances of working for a large, complex and diverse global corporate organisation have been an invaluable gift.
Is the grass greener?
Many of us who have worked on the agency side aspire to work for a large corporate. Both agency and corporate have their positive attributes.
When I think of Agency, adrenalin, diversity and hands-on are really the words that sum up the experience for me. The fast pace and short lead times create a dynamic energy off which you feed, giving you a rush that can become addictive. Creating experiences for a large MNC gives you exposure to a breadth of brands, philosophies and working styles which flavour your everyday work life. Agency is also a case of ‘hands-on’ for all. Your development is really on-the-job training and experience is the best teacher.
Strategic, brand insight and professional development: these are what working in-house represent for me. In contrast to a macro lens, everything in corporate is about honing in, focusing on the detail, refining and developing. It’s very much a case of One Vision, One Strategy. It’s a shift of focus, definitely, but there is an immense sense of achievement when you grow alongside the brand you are nurturing. Working with one brand allows for a deeper understanding of a brand, its values and philosophies and in our case, how these values and philosophies are manifested and brought to life through events. In contrast to agency, corporate affords you excellent management and leadership training.
Things to think about
If you are keen on moving over to corporate, begin by analysing your current situation and seek out a mentor who is currently working for a large corporate to help guide you. It’s definitely worth having a chat to ex-colleagues, friends of colleagues or industry contacts who have made the move.