Event-debbie-burrel-interview

EVENTS
DEBBIE BURREL INTERVIEW

"Different, challenging
and exciting"

Three words Debbie
Burrell uses to describe
her role as Archant’s
Head Of Events.
We can see why.
During our half hour chat, we were several times interrupted by Debbie’s phone and some of the strangest one way conversations we’ve heard…
“The fire eater uses what? Do Health and Safety know?”
then there’s…
“I’d go for the less whiffy cheese. You can never be too careful around a Prime Minister”.
and our favourite…
“I really don’t think that would work…sorry it’s got Rod Hull and Emu written all over it.”
Debbie apologies, explaining she’s sorting last minute preparations ahead of the next awards ceremony whilst busily arranging the spread for the PM’s latest visit.
 
She makes no more comment about Rod and Emu. To be fair, we think its best not to ask…


What does Head of Events mean?
I lead a really fantastic team that produces a diverse range of events across the UK. We produce many of the biggest B2B events to smaller ‘hands on’ networking sessions where local entrepreneurs get to network and spark up interesting ways in which they can work together. Many of the regions Archant serves are major food producers hence our commitment to Food And Drink…and of course there’s the mighty tear-jerking community awards, championing local unsung heroes.
What value do business events have?
Put simply, you just can’t buy face time. Bringing business people together where they can discuss their challenges, collectively find solutions and look at combined opportunities is extremely powerful. It’s so much more than handing out a business card. I hear many stories of individuals who have gone on to help each other and formed life-long partnerships having initially met at an event.
In a Linked In world, is face to face networking still relevant?
Yes, and I can prove it by the waiting list we have for tickets to our Business Awards. There’s nothing like meeting face to face and the atmosphere is electric. Guest speakers have ranged from the former Director General of MI5 to the face of Breakfast Television, sports stars, motivational leaders and A-list opera singer Laura Wright who received a standing ovation. Many leaders provide their insight. Karen Hester from brewer Adnams gave a speech entitled “From Mop to Top” – her amazing story of starting as a part-time cleaner at the company and climbing the ranks to become it’s Chief Operating Officer. Totally inspirational.
Aren’t the Business Awards geared up solely for big businesses?
Absolutely not. We have entries for businesses of all shapes and sizes including director of the year, young businessperson of the year and the well fought customer care award – all regularly won by SMEs. It’s not just for the suited and booted either. Our winners include farmers, butchers and one of my favourites…the Suffolk Canine Creche – a doggy daycare centre!
What makes for a good award entry?
Our judges come from some of the leading businesses across Britain and clearly they all look at things differently, but I’d say you should see it like a business plan. Carefully outline your objectives and then explain how you have met them. Provide evidence – data or testimonials are powerful. Be creative. Many of our winners have wowed the judges by showing they have broken the mould, looked at things differently. A good example was an entry we received which as well as including all of the information the judges needed, they produced a video to introduce themselves to really get the message across.
Do you ever get a bit lost in showbiz?!
Actually, it’s great working with celebrities. As I’m usually running around backstage and barking instructions at people, I’ve found them to be terribly polite and conscious of my time. David Cameron was particularly sweet when we met last year. 
What’s the best thing about your role?
I guess it’s something I forget, but it really is a brilliant job. I can’t think of any other role where I can picture something in my head, then, some months later see 350 people having an amazing time, learning from each other and making their business stronger. It’s magic! 
How can people find out more information about Archant events? 
Talk to me or my fantastic colleague Anna Norman
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