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Sarah Bell: The essential role of an Operations Manager in supporting the Event team

Sarah Bell is one of our Operation Managers. In her blog, she shares her story from graduation to Operations Manager and all the steps in between. 

November, 2022

After graduation. 

After completing my Event Management degree at Buxton u=University, I worked as a Consultant at a local event management agency within the venue find industry. I found I had a passion for hotels, client relationship building, and organizing meetings. During my five years, I was promoted twice, which overall enabled me to work with a number of clients from various sectors, such as automotive, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, oil, and gas. I have always been eager to continue to learn and develop, so in 2015 I applied for an Operations Manager role. I challenged myself to apply for a role that could help me to develop – I was so excited when I was told I got the job. 

For the interview itself, I had to prepare a personal SWOT analysis aligned with the job description and was tasked with presenting this to two Account Managers on the Business Unit I would later work on. I considered any areas I deemed as my weaknesses to be opportunities. Sometimes these things just need a little extra focus and time. That is something I truly believe. 


My career begins… 



So here begins my career at the business. As an Operations Manager, I was responsible for taking care of the client’s financials, including monthly reporting and purchase order status. I worked closely with the Finance team to look at the financial health reports, and aged debt and assisted the Account Managers and their wider team with training needs.  

After around one year, I had my first baby so went off on maternity leave. I returned to the business as an Account Manager working on a high-profile client account and stayed there for the next two years. The Account Manager role provided me with a fresh perspective, highlighting what an incredible job our Project Managers and Project Executives do. When I started on the account, I worked closely with our Senior Account Manager, to develop the client partnership.  I created a trusting relationship over time where the client was open to the idea of us supporting the technical production for one of their biggest events. Needless to say, our Production team did a splendid job, and we still work with them regularly. We also worked on an event that was originally for around 350 delegates, increasing to over 1000 delegates in the space of four months.  It was an extremely challenging event but all the dedication and hard work paid off. We received incredible feedback from the client which made me feel so proud of the team. 


Pandemic and post.

I was slowly transitioning back into an Operations Manager role when, unfortunately, the pandemic hit which meant the event industry had to adapt to some major changes. I looked outside of the industry and pushed myself out of my comfort zone, working in medical communications for another 24 months. I struggled to find a role to fulfill me like this business did. I think the universe knew this though, as I was contacted by my lovely Senior Account Director Jane, inviting me back as an Operations Manager! Of course, I accepted the role. I feel so lucky to be back; with the team and the company, I absolutely love it. 

Now as an Operations Manager, I support my team with the implementation and creation of processes, event templates, trackers, and training. I assist with financial tracking and processes too, as well as providing support to the Account Managers with client calls to discuss processes. I have also taken ownership of interviewing and assisting in training the new Operations Finance Executive roles for the business, and in turn, support other teams to recruit for their Project Managers and, recently, a Senior Project Executive.  


Constantly learning.

I like to be constantly challenged within my career and I do this by learning how to coach and mentor my team around me. Before my role here, I had never directly line-managed anyone, so it’s been exciting to give this a go. I’ve learned to be flexible, and to adapt my style depending on others while keeping my authenticity as a leader. It’s absolutely one of the joys of my role and something that brings me so much reward. I love being able to support my team regardless of what that looks like and what tasks I need to complete in order to do that – be it interviewing new potential candidates, supporting team members through their journey in the business, mentoring, and coaching; I really enjoy it. 


My next move.

I have some personal plans for my future – I want to be the best Operations Manager I can be, then hopefully become a Senior Operations Manager in the near future. I am always willing to try new things and broaden my experience in Operations. Where this takes me, who knows? But I am excited to see what happens within my career with the business.


You’d be amazed at how much goes into creating exceptional event experiences, no matter where you are in the world.

Or maybe you’re looking for the next stepping stone on your career journey and are interested in joining us in making an impact. Visit our Careers page to find out more.


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