Coming from a background working in Athletics, putting on an event where thousands of people attend is nothing new to me. However, being new to the event technology industry and wanting to have a creditable voice for Alford Media as their new Marketing & Communications Manager, one of my first assignments was to work an event from beginning to end. This is how my journey as a Facilitator started. "A Facilitator is the on-site logistical manager and right hand of the Technical Director or Project Manager, as well as the ultimate customer service position.” - Pat Reed, Director of Show Solutions for Alford Media, states. Add to it, as a Facilitator, I would get to work alongside some of the brightest, most experienced, and most hardworking people in the industry; the choice of working as a Facilitator quickly became a decision I wouldn’t regret.
During my first week working for Alford, I reviewed thousands of videos and pictures of many unique events we have put on over the past 30 years. So, when I arrived on site for my first day, my initial reaction was excitement. This hall was huge. I knew we could transform it into something special with a space this size. My excitement quickly turned into shock once I saw how many people were needed for this transformation. I quickly learned that any show’s unspoken heroes were the stagehands. An army of 60 people assisted us in unloading trucks, running cables, and helping us with any need we had.
As the Facilitator, my days were spent handling all the logistical needs of the team. Whether that was running to the airport (several times) to get items that were flown in last minute, running to stores or local vendors to pick up other things that were added, or assisting other departments that needed an extra hand, I was there to help so the team could focus on their tasks without missing a beat. I quickly learned that the Facilitator role requires much humility and attention to detail. And assertiveness with a passion for helping others all at once.
No day, or really minute, is the same. Wherever the greatest need is at the moment is where you go.
From my experience, if you have these character traits, this role is one of the best jobs you can have. I learned about lighting, audio, video, and staging.
Getting to work alongside experts in all the various aspects of event technology allowed me to gain a fuller perspective of what is needed from all the individual parts of the team to be able to come together and put on a successful event.
When I wasn’t working as the Facilitator, I joined Jason Wright and Aaron Harris on
"team lights.” Their sole responsibility is to ensure the space is transformed into the environment the client expects by running cables and placing the lights in the exact position hundreds of times over and over.
The space was transformed, and the light show was realized due to the countless hours they put in over three days to ensure it was done correctly and artistically. Their passion for the “perfect show” was tested on the second conference day when a light that overlooked the band went out. Mind you, it was day two of the event, and everything was already set up, but because of Jason’s attention to detail and commitment to perfection, he got a lift operator and a spare light to fix the issue. I began moving the barricades, chairs, speakers, and any other objects blocking the lift’s way so they could quickly get access and replace the light. It was incredible to see the passion people bring to the table when everyone's goals are the same.
One of the main things I learned about Alford is that you aren’t alone because you are several states away. There is a team back in Coppell, Texas, ready to go to ensure your event runs as smoothly as it can. Benji Palmer, who oversees cross-rentals, was excellent at tracking down parts all over the city or getting things flown in when that item couldn’t be found. Rachel Hollis, Melanie Reed, and Charlie Pearle ensured every single employee and contractor got their travel arrangements handled, had a place to stay once they arrived, and, when something came up, was a phone call away. Then the on-call managers for the week, Dan Thompson and Tom Alford, and the entire operations team backing them up were ready and waiting for any need. with these individuals dedicated to their jobs, everyone on site knows they have a great support system to back them up so they can focus on putting on a flawless show.
Lastly, I found out you really can’t beat experience. Working alongside Jason, Aaron, Pat, and Jeff Pugrant (Technical Director), there was never an issue that came their way that wasn’t handled quickly and effectively. It was impressive how the team conducted themselves in what was, at times, high-stress situations. I feel very fortunate that my first show was working with this team. After this week, I believe I have found my voice here at Alford Media and am excited about the future.