Dan Walker (Head Of Live Events), was recently interviewed by Conference & Incentive Travel (C&IT) about his experience of being part of the A-List in 2014. Dan has been a key member of Ashfield Meetings & Events and its sister brand SPARK THINKING since joining the company in 2008.
How did you end up on the A-List in 2014?
It was a surprise to me that I was put forward. The board didn’t mention it so I didn’t know until C&IT made the announcement. It was a nice surprise. I’ve always had a level of flexibility in my approach to work. I’ve always thought I’ll try my hand at most things and I’m happy operating outside my comfort zone. That’s got me into a few sticky situations but it’s also got me into a range of different jobs and exposed me to working with different people. And in doing so, I think that raises your profile.
Did it help you make industry connections?
Absolutely, that was probably where it was most helpful. It was great to get recognition from the board; that they felt I was a rising star, and then to get that recognition from C&IT as well. You post things on LinkedIn and people see your profile and before you know it you’ve got a much broader external network. I was asked to speak at a few events as a result, such as Techfest, which exposed me to different approaches to delivering events and the different companies that were represented there.
Had you done much speaking at events before that?
No, not really. I think I’ve done half-a-dozen now but I think the first was a panel, which might have been a C&IT event. And there were a few events where I was standing on the stage by myself, which was quite petrifying. It was brilliant in hindsight because I’m now responsible for developing content and working with speakers and now I know what it’s like to be stood up in front of people. I have some compassion for those speakers.
What are you doing now?
I’m Head Of Live Events now. Before I was Head Of Content but now there’s less delivery, more overseeing the production team and the relationship with our suppliers. It’s my job to look at how we are delivering more creative and engaging events with the production team, and how that links in with the content producers and the communications teams.
What are your plans for the future?
Getting to grips with my new role and taking this team forward. We’ve got a fantastic senior leadership team at Ashfield who have been there for a while and a new Head Of Exhibits too - it’s a really exciting time. In the long-term, someone needs to move off the board for me to get on it or I’ll have to wrestle my way on!
What advice do you have for potential A-Listers of the future?
Embrace it and make the most of what’s on offer with the trips and the speaking engagements. Enjoy the crest of the wave that comes with it and be proud of yourself that you’re on it.
Most important thing you’ve learned during your events career?
It goes back to what I was saying before about giving yourself that exposure. You have to try new things and challenge yourself. Don’t let ‘I can’t do this’ put you off, because nine times out of ten you can. Keep trying different things until you find something you absolutely love.
This interview was first published on the C&IT website.