People do business with people they connect with on a human level

Faye Carter, head of UK Events, Deloitte

Graduate of the Central School of Speech and Drama, for the last 12 years Faye has been building a career in events at Deloitte. Prior to managing the team, Faye held the position of Event Manager with a particular focus on delivering large scale events for Deloitte People and Partners as well as events related to the firm's corporate marketing and corporate sponsorship programmes. Since 2011 Faye took the position of Head of UK Events overseeing the management and delivery of c. 220 events per year, with an annual volume increase of +17% — +20% since 2011.

Can you explain to our readers your journey through Deloitte?

Life at Deloitte started for me in July 2005 when I joined the events team as a Senior Assistant. In the last 11 years, my role has changed a huge amount as I’ve gone from an operations role into managing a team of six event managers and seven contracted venue-finding personnel, who are contracted with us through an in-house agency called Grassroots, the contract of which I manage for the firm.

My background prior to Deloitte was in the not-for-profit sector working at a medical college, co-ordinating medical conferences, which was quite eye-opening. More recently I worked at a Trans-Atlantic business networking organisation, a bit like the Chamber of Commerce. In February 2016 I returned from an extensive maternity break as I had twin boys. Life has changed a lot for me in the past couple of years!

Could you explain to our readers what part live events play in the Deloitte marketing mix?

They play a very integral role for us in the marketing mix. We find ourselves in a digital, virtual world, but I don’t think you can ever beat the power of events for bringing people together to communicate a strategy or to give business updates, or even to build a team and bring people together so everyone is aligned to the same way of thinking.

For me and my team, and for the firm as a whole, it’s hugely important.

Do you see face-to-face remaining to be as important in an increasingly social media-run world?

Personally I think it will be. I know some people might argue there are so many ways you can interact with people now that you don’t necessarily need to be in the same place at the same time. Perhaps I’m a bit old school, but I believe you have to see the whites of somebody’s eyes to be able to garner an air of trust with them, and I think people want to do business with people who they connect with on a very human level. And to me, the best way you can do that is to be in the same place at the same time. 

How do you ensure that you optimise your event spend?

Procurement plays quite a big part in how we manage our spend. We have a preferred supplier list in place for all of the event services that we buy, and we manage those suppliers very carefully. We make sure that we’re getting the best rates and equipment at the best price. My team is very savvy when it comes to understanding what market rates should be for certain products and services. So although we’re a big firm, at a grassroots level we know much things should cost, and we won’t let anyone pull the wool over our eyes. We’re quite clear on what we’re prepared to pay for certain things.

We keep our marketplace very competitive by always making sure that, for large projects, we send things out to tender. We ask our agencies to come back and pitch for the business and, in terms of optimising the event spend, we make sure that events aren’t just a moment in time. We ensure they’ve got a clear objective and are part of a broader integrated marketing campaign, so they don’t just pop up and disappear. That includes making sure that there’s communication and discussion after the event. 

Events form a part of a cohesive and seamless experience, from the initial online communication, whether social media, newsletter, or visit to website, attendance at the event, through to the ongoing engagement.

What are your thoughts on return on investment or do you call it ‘return on objectives’?

How do you measure success?

I think it’s more difficult to analyse the direct impact of events activity, given that the relationships that we build with our clients often happen very organically and over quite a long period of time. It is sometimes quite difficult to categorically say the ROI of that particular event was that deal that was struck a week later. Having said that, we do have processes in place to analyse how engaged a certain client might be with campaigns we run and, for events that we run as part of those campaigns, we have a marketing automation system that allows us to really tap into how our communications are being received. That means that we can start to see a pattern of what our clients are interested in so we can stop sending them things that they are deleting straight away, or invitations to events they’re not interested in. We try to be much more targeted in our approach.

We find ourselves in quite a digital, virtual world, and I don’t think you can ever beat the power of events for bringing people together to communicate a strategy or to give business updates, or even to team build and bring people together so everyone’s aligned to the same way of thinking.

Do you think there will be a breakthrough in how we measure success in events?

I think technology and apps will evolve further to help us to measure success. I am not sure about a breakthrough as such and I think people will formulate their own ways of measuring success that are the most applicable to them.   

How do you ensure that your messaging is on track?

We have a really hard-working brand team who make sure that across all of our events our brand is presented accurately. We also have an in-house studio, so any kind of content, a presentation for example, that is shared at those events, all goes through a central place. We’re also very lucky that we have a lot of face-to-face interaction with the senior leadership within the firm, so we are completely aligned to their thinking and we understand the firm wide strategy. That way, we can make sure that everything we’re doing is completely in line with what the overall ambition is.

How do you see the ratio split between planning and delivery?

We spend a huge amount of our time in the planning stages for our events, then the delivery is quite often very quick as it might only be a four-hour event. It really varies from event to event. Sometimes we will manage an event that’s very responsive to something that’s just happened in the marketplace — we have internal clients that will come to us and ask us to manage an event around a certain topic for example - and sometimes we have to be responsive and get it out to market very quickly. In those instances, a four-week lead time wouldn’t be out of the question. Having said that, I’m currently working on an event for June 2018 for 2000 people. I’d say, on average, our lead time is three months, and we spend a lot of time planning. All of my team manage between 15 and 20 projects at any one time, so they might just be about to deliver a project for this evening, but they’re also planning an event for six months’ time. They’re always in all sorts of different stages of planning.

How do you keep on top of managing so many projects?

      Lots of catch-ups with the team, making sure everyone is on track. I’m very fortunate that I’ve got such an excellent team, who can manage multiple stakeholders and multiple projects at any one time - that’s really what I’m looking for when I recruit people. It’s that multiple stakeholder management skill that’s really important to have when working at Deloitte.

How do you ensure event attendance amongst your delegates?

There are the obvious things, such as careful planning around school holidays and avoiding bank holidays and all that very basic stuff. But now, it’s more about making sure that the content of that particular event is compelling enough for a client to take time out of their really busy schedule to come and hear what we have to say. For us, it’s about perhaps doing fewer, better things that are stronger and more focused. 

What would be your wish list in terms of future developments of the live events industry?

I’ve been with Deloitte for 11 years and recently I’ve been starting to see quite a noticeable shift in the type of applicants we’re getting for roles in events, which is a really positive thing. I’d love to see more of that - more enthusiastic people coming through that see events as part of a broader marketing role and as a really credible career option. I think we’re getting there as the profession as a whole becomes more credible. There’s still a long way to go, but I definitely think we’re on our way.

Where do you see the future of events within Deloitte?

Events will continue to be a very fundamental part of our marketing offering. I don’t think you can ever take away the value and advantage of bringing people together. We are much more targeted than we were perhaps four or five years ago, and we’ve come a long way in understanding our clients more; leading by their preference rather than pushing things out to market. In terms of internal events, we organise a large proportion of events for our own people and partners. We are entering a significant period of change at the firm and I think that events will play a very key role in educating and helping our partners and our people enter this new phase of Deloitte’s growth.

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