In our latest 'Getting to Know' feature, proudly sponsored by VisitBritain we caught up with Irena Goldwag - an events consultant / troubleshooter with 30+ years of running exhibitions and conferences. Working with government departments, membership bodies and charities, dealing with board members and Ministers. Irena has a wealth of project management experience, from your initial brief through to live delivery
Q: In a nutshell, tell us about your services and the some of the industries you’ve freelanced for?
A: I’ve worked with the Department of Health twice, managing the CE0’s conferences; lots of associations, e.g. CIPFA twice, AAT, the British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) where I was taken on permanently. My largest project was single-handedly coordinating logistics for a UK-wide roadshow for 14,000 members of the British Steel Pensions Scheme.
Q: How did you get started in the events industry?
A: At 21 with a history degree and no career plan. I found a 3-line classified ad in the London Standard for exhibition managers, my first task being to sell space in the Yellow Pages. My boss liked me, so I became permanent and was given my own 150-stand B-B exhibition in Southampton to sell and organise.
Q: Most memorable moment working as a freelancer?
A: Appointed as sole event manager with an unexpected new brief – invite 130,000 British Steel Pensions Scheme members to a local event within 2 months. Tell us what we need to do? I realised I knew exactly what was needed and created a plan from scratch, recruiting venue finders, AV & registration teams and managing the budget. The events exceeded all British Steel’s expectations.
Q: Best location you’ve worked at?
A: Shout-out to Liverpool ACC. I Joined BSR in January, had to recruit a new team to run a 2,000 person medical conference and exhibition in April with our first venue visit in February. Liverpool AAC were totally supportive and helped the new team so much they were an absolute joy to work with, giving great value and service levels.
Q: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself when you first started out in the events world?
A: I’d change jobs and sectors more frequently and I regret not working abroad more as the scale of events that I was lucky enough to work on in USA dwarfed those in UK. Wish I’d started my current pattern of freelancing for a period, then travelling for a few months, earlier in my career as I really love seeing the world.