An experienced events producer with agency, in-house and client side experience, Laura Armstrong has worked on events for major brands such as Vodafone and EA Games along with myriad festivals including Secret Garden Party, Bestival, Latitude and BST Hyde Park. Currently senior project manager at LS Events, Armstrong reflects on an interesting career path that began at Live 8.
What was the first event that you attended that really made an impression on you?
I studied law at university and wanted to be a lawyer, but I always had a massive interest in music. The first event that I worked at was Live 8 in Hyde Park; a friend’s dad ran the bar operation and he needed people to take money between the bars. I remember sitting on top of a container watching The Who and Pink Floyd play, which was amazing. I’ve worked on events in Hyde Park many times since but I’ll never forget that show.
What was your first position in the events industry?
I was an events coordinator at United Business Media. After university I was interviewed for a place on an events graduate scheme and that led to a full-time position. It was a great graduate scheme because it included rotations in operations, marketing, and sales; all the functions in commercial events that get an event to market. It really helped people learn their specialism, what you are particularly good at, and mine proved to be operations. I knew that the nitty gritty of being the first people in and the last to leave, working with suppliers and contractors, and having a view on safety, was always the thing that I was good at.
You’ve worked on business events, sports events and festivals – what do you find the most rewarding and why?
My main passion is music but I love working on sporting events and working with brands. On the agency side I have worked for really big brands such as NFL, Vodafone and the NBA. What drove me initially was working on events that had really good partnerships or were unique. You get that in the agency world because you have the budgets and can be pioneering. That led me into music events because that was my main passion. I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the biggest music shows and festivals in the UK.
Is there anyone in the industry that has proved inspirational?
There’s so many inspirational people that I have admired from afar and I’m really lucky to now call a lot of those people my friends and colleagues. I worked with Paul Southby, who is now at Wasserman. He was one of the first influential people I worked with on the agency side. He definitely taught me how to take responsibility and I watched him deal with everything in a measured, calm way. That approach influenced me and has helped me work through lots of challenging times and scenarios.
Can you give an example of a particularly memorable challenge overcome?
I worked on a Premier League tour in South Africa. The main idea behind it was to get football to a grassroots audience, so we put on a big fan screening event in Johannesburg, which is quite a challenging market. We were not ticketing the event, it was a free to attend, which meant that there would be a mixture of people from different society groups. We did that against the recommendations of people in South Africa, they had not really had events where you had middle-class people alongside people from townships. I am very proud that we managed to achieve that in a really safe way, and showed that an event should be open to anyone to enjoy.