A day An event in the life of... a Technical Manager
Introducing Rob Nuca
Typically, my involvement with an event can span two to three months, which is why I’m always working on several at any time during the year. Periods of intense activity, followed (hopefully!) by calmer periods of monitoring and maintenance – that’s the rhythm I often find myself working to.
Having studied engineering at home in Romania and then software development over here for my Masters, I assumed I’d be destined to work in a room full of big sweaty programmers, all tapping away at their keyboards, knocking back gallons of coffee. That couldn’t be further from the truth. My job now sees me travelling extensively, especially to Africa, and meeting so many amazingly diverse people.
My work on a new project usually starts when one of our Exhibitor Relationship Managers (they’re like our client account handlers) brings me a new instruction. I then get to work on designing the event registration site. This will usually take a couple of weeks before it can be sent across to the client for review – although this can take longer if the site also needs to process payments.
Once the site is up and running, I monitor it to ensure that it’s working correctly and that all the visitor registrations are being handled smoothly. As the event draws closer, I’ll then get involved with planning what we need for our on-site registration area. This includes everything from signage and the layout of our registration desks through to the power, internet and computer equipment logistics.
All being well, everything ticks over nicely until the time of the event itself – and then things get very busy. On the day before an event opens, I’m on site very early as we look to get everything in place. Typically, we need to be operational by about 2pm so that we can start printing out exhibitor badges, although I have had instances of having to be ready for 8am when we haven’t been able to start work till midnight or even later.
Once the event is up and running, I’m normally on site an hour or two before the doors open every day and stay there until another hour after the close, making sure that everything’s working as it should. At the bigger events, we may have several LiveBuzz staff members present, taking charge of registrations, exhibitor services, visitor queries and our temporary event staff. At some events however, I can be the sole point of contact so I need to be able to step up to the plate on several different issues.
That’s ok though; the only thing that I find really challenging is when we have to cope with something outside of our control. Losing power or internet access are the biggest headaches and this is where the job can get a bit stressful. I remember this happening at an oil and gas industry event in Nigeria where a very long queue of disgruntled visitors – who had all paid to attend the event – very quickly formed once the power went down. Faced with unhappy customers, the challenge is to stay cool and calm, although this proved difficult on that occasion as it turned out I’d also just contracted malaria!
As soon as the event closes, we have to start breaking everything down. There’s no option of coming back the next day. Even on the more local events, it can be gone midnight before we get home. There will be a debrief meeting at some point to discuss how the event went but if we’re involved with back-to-back events, I can sometimes be away from home for weeks.
I don’t mind though. Thanks to this job, I’ve travelled extensively, going to places like the US, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Ghana, Singapore and even Iraq and Libya. There have been a few hairy moments along the way. I was at an event in Libya when armed gunmen came looking for the Minister of Health, for example. And I once found myself under Army protection in the Nigerian wilderness after our transport broke down in the middle of a region thought to be full of Boko Haram militants.
But on the other side of that coin, I’ve been at parties laid on by event organisers where I’ve met the likes of Lord Sugar and Steve Wozniak, I’ve seen Groove Armada playing live and have even had the chance to do a bit of DJ’ing myself at a club in Africa. I always make the effort to suck up a little bit of local culture while I’m at these events and to meet the people. For me, it’s a big part of what makes this job special.