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A day in the life of...Clare Lockett, Assistant Conference and Events Manager

Clare Lockett

'Summer is one of our busiest times - once the students vacate the University in June, our conferences and other events begin!'

As the majority of students vacated the University in June, the Conference and Events team prepared for one of their busiest times of year. Find out more about Clare's role in the team in the first of our ‘A day in the life' features...

How long have you been working at the University?

 

I have worked in Commercial Services, which is part of the Facilities Management Directorate (FMD) since 2002, and have worked my way up to my current position - Assistant Conference and Events Manager. 

So what does your job entail?

I manage our Conference and Events Coordinators, and together we deal with all new event and conference enquiries that come from a wide range of people, including University staff, charities, local businesses, and members of the community. Types of events we can host include: anything from a small meeting for 10 people, to a large conference with 1000s of delegates, weddings, reunions (particularly for Reading alumni), dinners, language schools and conventions.

Once an event or conference is booked in, we will look after it from start to finish, along with our many service partners across the University. We also work closely with our Customer Service Team, who are responsible for most internal bookings, and the majority of catering bookings.

How many people usually get involved with an event that is held at the University?

There are a huge amount of people that are involved with ensuring an event runs smoothly: Catering, Porters, Security, ITS, Residences, Health and Safety, Central Room Booking and Timetabling and cleaning staff. It's essential that we all work together to make sure that our clients have an enjoyable and hassle-free experience at the University.

Can you describe a typical day in the life of an Assistant Conference and Events Manager?

8.00-8.30 - I'll get into the office and check my emails straight away to make sure that nothing urgent has come in overnight about any of our events that are taking place. I'll also follow up with any recent events to make sure that the clients are happy with their experience.

9.00-10.00 - we have meetings within our own team very regularly, and, particularly during conference season, we meet with our service partners to ensure we are all up to date with and prepared for the events that are going on. We'll also decide on the weekend rotas, as most big weekend events need to be covered by someone from the Conference and Events team.

10.00-11.00 - we are able to accommodate weddings in Wantage Hall each August, so I might have a ‘show round' with the couple-to-be. I'll take them to Wantage to have a look around the facilities, and I'll then run through what we can offer them in terms of menus and room setups.

11.30-12.30 - I'll go and check on any events that might be running that day, which normally involves speaking to the conference organiser to make sure that everything is running smoothly.

13.30-15.30 - I might have a meeting with a conference organiser from a large company who wants to discuss booking a conference for the following year. I will give them a tour of campus and of any buildings and facilities that they might be able to use, and will discuss their requirements.

When's your busiest time of year?

Summer is very busy, so once the students vacate the University in June, our conferences and other events begin! In June and July we usually play host to the summer language schools, and other big conferences; August is generally our busiest time for weddings; and we'll have some more large conferences in in September. The Christmas and Easter vacations are also important times of year for us.

What's been happening this summer?

We've got approximately 200 events going on across campus this summer, many of which will have been booked up to a year in advance. We've worked out that our colleagues in Catering will have served approximately 20,000 cups of tea and coffee between June and the end of September!

Have you helped to organise any unusual events at the University?

The most interesting one that came to the Whiteknights campus for two years in a row, which some people may remember, was a big event held by Gen Con in 2007 and 2008. Over 1,500 gamers took over most of campus for four consecutive days in order to take part in a wide range of role-playing and card games. All of the buildings they were using were kept open for 24 hours a day, so the Porters and Security were very accommodating! The delegates set up a medieval camp on the grass between RUSU and HumSS and turned the Cedar Room into a huge exhibition and market. Everyone was wandering around in medieval costumes and there was even an eagle here at one point!

Any others?

Other interesting events we have hosted include a convention about bats, the Butterfly Conservation's Annual Symposium which Sir David Attenborough attended, and Sir Patrick Moore once gave a talk at the annual Association for Science Education (ASE) conference.

What's your favourite thing about your job?

My favourite thing is probably the fact that I get to meet and work with such a huge variety of different people. Also no one day is ever the same as another, as different things are always cropping up. I really enjoy looking after an event through from start to finish as it's so rewarding to see all of the organising and planning come to fruition.

And the worst...?

The past few years have been quite difficult for us as the constant building and refurbishment work that's going on around campus has meant that we've had to make a lot of compromises when it comes to delivering events for our clients. But, on the plus side, as a result of all the upheaval we're really excited about the new halls (Stenton and MacKinder) as we'll be able to use them for our conferences in January, and the opening of the Central Kitchen will mean that all of the food for our events and conferences will be of a consistently high quality no matter where the delegates are on campus.

There are so many varied and interesting jobs being carried out around the University; let us know if you would like to know more about what colleagues. Please send your ideas to communications@reading.ac.uk.

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