Rebecca Selkirk

Plan A, Plan B, Plan C

Super-organiser Rebecca Selkirk has many event successes under her belt (including her own whirlwind wedding) and is currently volunteering for Pride in London. She says her proudest moment in her career is a recent one –creating the virtual programme for Pride in London during pride month. “It was something we’d never done before, so took a lot of planning and proving to the board it would be a great alternative to our usual in person events that were cancelled,” she tells Melissa Paulden

Plan A, Plan B, Plan C

When I was finishing high school I had my five-year plan all set out before me. It was to go to hotel school, finish my degree and then move to London to work in a hotel in an events team. I finished my degree and ended up working for the Australian government for eight years instead!

I always wanted to live in London, so I decided to pack up my life and move. Starting over in another country is a bit daunting and you need to start your career from the bottom again. So I was interviewing in a wide range of roles. Luckily for me, my dream job landed: Events Executive. I took it and ended up following my dream career. That was almost eight years ago.

I am super organised and I love a routine. My mantra is: always have a back-up plan, and even three or four back-up plans. Something will go wrong, and you will need to think on your feet, so troubleshooting becomes a lot easier if you have options up your sleeve.

Even my personal life is filled with to do lists and crossing things off each day. I even plan our holidays to make sure it runs smoothly, and we get to see and do everything we want. I also love a good bargain. And for some reason event budgets are always very lean, so naturally finding the best value for money has come in very handy.

Most memorable events

I am driven by results. So to me there is no greater feeling than watching your event come to life. After spending weeks or months planning and organising an event, to sit back and watch it all come together, fills me with so much joy. I love seeing the delegates enjoying the event I have created for them.

The best event I have created was actually my wedding, lol. I organised a whirl wind 4 week, 3 continents and five celebrations super wedding. Bringing two international families together was a challenge, and when the bride and groom had very different ideas of weddings. Creating a special occasion for everyone was so fun. My day job at that point was corporate events, so it was so lovely to be able to flex my creativity for a wedding in my personal life.

The best feedback I had was from a black tie awards ceremony I organised, it was the final event in a year long programme. The event was a huge success, and the first official event for our new CEO. He was thrilled to bits and actually very excited about how we could grow and develop the event for future years. This was such a lovely thing to hear, after so much stress during the organising of the event, to know that the people at the top appreciated it.

Managing Disappointment

2020 has been something else. I took on a new role in March this year, which was part time initially until Covid had passed. Naively, I thought I’d be full time by April, instead I was furloughed and then let go. I’ve gone through all of the emotions that go with being in a pandemic, losing your job and finding it hard to get work afterwards. This isn’t how I thought 2020 would go, but I’m trying to remain positive and focus on what I can control.

This year has been a huge test on how we can use our skills for something new and innovative from home. In one month I needed to learn how to create a virtual experience for delegates who were used to coming in person to our events. Virtual programmes are not something I'd previously had experience with, so it was a steep learning curve. However, I do believe this forced skill update has made me a more well-rounded event manager. I believe virtual events are here to stay, and how the industry uses them to engage our audiences will be key. It's not a skill I would have sought had the pandemic forced us to, so I am grateful for that opportunity.

Proud and Pride

Sadly, the events industry along with the arts seem to be suffering the most and will take some time to recover. What has made it feel less lonely, is the support of other events professionals looking out for me. I have had a lot of messages of support from others in the same situation, and even sharing job adverts when they crop up. The support from within the industry is amazing and makes me feel proud to work within such a wonderful industry. I also volunteer with Pride in London, so whilst on furlough I was able to keep distracted and focus on that work, which kept my mental health in check. I am grateful.

Pride in London is a fun and inspiring company to work for. I love being part of a community that promotes and fights for inclusivity. I work alongside 200+ core volunteers who are all helping to drive this huge LGBT+ community programme. It's such a rewarding experience to know I am contributing to such a wonderful cause. It was disappointing to have the parade postponed for 2020, however, it has meant we are able to carry on our theme of Allyship into 2021. Which is amazing! And right now Allyship is so important to all of our minority groups, so it's great to be able to highlight this for another 12months.

Learning Curves

The biggest learning curve for me would be converting a whole social events programme for Pride in London to a virtual platform. This was really tricky and had a lot of moving parts, particularly teaching the hosts how to use the platform and providing the trust that if anything went wrong I’d be able to fix it.

Virtual events were a scary thought. But I got through it and created some very successful content.