Career paths: possible futures for exhibit managers

Category: Career, Ideas

Successful event and exhibit managers pick up a number of valuable skills throughout their career that make it easy to carve a career path. The ability to generate innovative ideas is always a requirement for success in this field, as are things like researching venues and suppliers, planning budgets and timescales, dealing with problems as they arise and more.

There will likely come a day where you realize you don’t want to stay in your current position forever and you believe it’s time to start looking for what form that “next level” will actually take. If you’ve decided that you want to move up the ladder to bigger and better things, you’ll have a number of key options available to you.

Facility Management
A facilities manager is someone who coordinates for a living – which will sound very familiar to any longtime event or exhibit manager. These are the people who are in administration roles over things like arenas, schools, universities, convention centers, sporting events and more. In terms of something like a trade show, this would give you an opportunity to sit on “the other side of the table”, so to speak – you’ve probably talked with a lot of facilities managers throughout your career up to this point.

The facilities manager at the International Spy Museum in Washington DC, for example, is in charge of everything from establishing capital and expense budget data, controlling spending, managing labor expenses, managing event setups and tear downs and more. Though the actual job requirements will vary from one area of business to the next, the International Facility Management Association identified the required core competencies of people in this position as things like communication, emergency preparedness, finance and business, leadership and strategy and (most importantly) project management.

Sporting Event Coordinators
If you’re an exhibit manager who is looking for a bold new possible future who also happens to be a sports fan, a career in sporting event coordination may be just what you’re after. Everything that goes into making game day as exciting as possible for attendees – from the promotional giveaways to the first X number of people in the door to relationships with local restaurants and businesses – begins with these hardworking individuals. They make sure that the sporting event itself goes off without issue, all while working closely with the local community and even things like TV stations for marketing purposes.

The requirements for this type of position will also vary depending on exactly where you plan on ending up. Exhibit managers with degrees in things like marketing, public relations, project management, communications and similar will be able to rely on their education, as well as their experience, to land them that coveted position. Getting your master’s degree in sports management will also go a long way towards this goal. You should also take courses in industry-specific topics like sports operation, sports promotion and even business law to better prepare yourself.

Internal Promotion
Maybe you love where you work now, but want to climb the corporate ladder, what can you do to position yourself for your next position?

1) Make sure that hose in the know know who you are.
2) Prepare to prove you’re ready for the position you want.
3) Stay aware of opportunities to show your worth. Go the extra mile.
4) Observe the kind of employees who get promoted. They are indicators of characteristics the company values.
5) Become totally familiar with the duties and responsibilities of the position you’re aiming for.
6) When you are ready, take the first step and ask for a meeting to discuss a promotion.


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