We spoke to Senior Production Manager Liam to find out his take on events around the globe, how they are different to delivering events in the UK, his favourite Broadsword international event, the challenges he has faced while being abroad and the 5 items he wouldn't be without.
What do you like about delivering international events?
I love the occasional opportunity to explore a new city. Working in events has taken me to four continents, and countless cities I would never have had chance to visit. If I get the chance I love to wander around absorbing the sights, sounds and smells. A particular highlight was a 48 break between landing and starting work in Bangkok last year, which meant I could see a cousin who lives there, explore the city, and go to a gig.
How is it different to delivering events in the UK?
There is less control, and a greater reliance on other people with whom you work less regularly. This means more research is necessary at the initial stage, as you have to ensure you fully trust local suppliers, and very precise communication is needed throughout as assumptions about how people work in another country can lead to all sorts of problems down the line.
What has been your favourite Broadsword international event and why?
The Clarivate 2019 SKO in Philadelphia was great, mainly because we had a brilliant team working really well to deliver a very ambitious solution. It was also the first time we worked with a supplier I have used in a previous role. They were brilliant, which was a great relief!
Tell me a story about a challenge you had at an international event and how you overcame it?
I really enjoyed working on the Economist Open Future event in Hong Kong in 2018. It was a great venue, really interesting programme and it was the first time I had worked in Hong Kong. The Unsung Heroes Choir (made up of domestic helpers who have left their families in order to provide for them) provided a poignant moment, that very nearly didn’t happen. The event took place on the eve of the super typhoon Mangkhut hitting Hong Kong, and the performers had to leave before their scheduled end to get the last ferries back to the islands, or risk being stranded. A bit of onsite programme wrangling and a very improvised rehearsal of the rearranged set list meant that the show could go on. We completed the show and de-rig, headed out for dinner, only to find all the restaurants had shut up shop, and we were to be confined to the hotel for 24 hours while the storm of a lifetime raged outside.
List 5 items that you wouldn’t be without?
My Gerber multi-tool has helped fix issues with equipment around the world, from broken amplifiers to the host’s spectacles! Noise cancelling headphones to ensure I get some sleep on the flights and can do my job when I arrive. Comfy shoes are vital for all the exploring. My camera is great for both capturing the city, and taking photos of cool ideas and different ways of doing things that we can learn from or adopt. Finally, my ears! I had one notable event where a combination of a language barrier and general ineptitude on the part of the local sound engineer meant I mixed the entire plenary myself, while cuing the other aspects of the show. I was fairly pleased with my own rusty sound engineering abilities. It turned out that the way he was doing it was the way everyone mixes in that part of the world!
And finally... what is that something special that you bring back for yourself?