This is a guest post by Kate Watson, who graduated from Warwick this year with a degree in Theatre and Performance Studies. Kate entered the prestigious B-Hive competition and won a top placement with the NEC Group. She recounts her incredible experience here…
I’ve always been passionate about theatre and chose my degree based on this, hoping to find an area of the arts that I could pursue as a career. After completing a marketing module and working in the marketing department of the Royal Concert Hall Nottingham, I knew this was where my future lay. Unfortunately – often due to misconceptions – theatre students sometimes get overlooked when it comes to business related jobs. The B-Hive competition was my way of proving to myself (and employers) that I was as able as any other degree student to succeed in marketing. And I did!
B-Hive – what’s it all about?
For those of you who haven’t heard of the B-Hive competition, it’s an opportunity for students from universities across the West Midlands to put their skills in marketing, PR, Advertising, Graphic Design and Web Design to the test by responding to a creative brief posted online. The judges select the best responses, inviting students to present their ideas to a panel of industry professionals; last year’s panel included representatives from Deloitte, NEC Group & National Express. It’s a great way to get your name out there and offers a fantastic (and much sought after) opportunity to gain paid work experience, with some of the Midlands biggest recruiters.
Working at the NEC Group gave me invaluable experience of working for a large organisation – experience that I probably wouldn’t have got otherwise. The NEC Group incorporates several large venues across Birmingham, including the NEC, ICC, NIA and LG Arena, as well as ticketing agent The Ticket Factory and catering company Amadeus. Consequently, the office is a fast-paced, vibrant place to work, full of busy – yet friendly – staff each making a contribution to a different area of the organisation.
My main role during my time at the NEC was in digital marketing. This presented both challenge and opportunity, as it was a not an area I’d previously considered working in. Amadeus had gained a large contract – catering at the Olympic park during the games – and consequently wanted to update their website to highlight the variety of events they cater for and services they provide. The main website template had been created and I was responsible for inputting visual elements of the website, ensuring the images used reflected the key themes and messages within the website copy. This task highlighted how important branding was to each strand of the NEC Group as each part of the organisation had to exist independently with its own key aims and messages, while existing under an umbrella organisation, the NEC Group. I think this gave me an excellent insight into marketing strategy and how to align the message and the delivery.
Working in a large organisation
I was introduced to the advanced and intelligent e-bulletin system the NEC Group used in order to target customers effectively with events. Due to the large variety of events taking place in each of the venues, it is important that customers are not bombarded with information about everything taking place at the venues each month. Consequently, a system is used which tailors an e-bulletin to each customer’s needs, advertising Justin Bieber to previous concert attenders of his or similar concerts, while promoting car shows to automotive enthusiasts. While I have used segmentation previously to understand audiences needs and wants, I have never seen it used on such a scale – a direct result of working for such a large organisation with the financial resources to introduce such sophisticated technology.
Working at the NEC Group allowed me to experience working for a large organisation. Having worked for smaller companies previously I have now had the opportunity to explore the pros and cons of each, and consider my options for the future when pursuing my career in marketing. During my placement I had an interview at the Town Hall, Symphony Hall Birmingham, securing a more permanent position as Marketing Assistant (maternity cover). Unfortunately this meant that I had to cut short my time with the NEC Group, but I am extremely grateful for the whole experience and know that it will continue to pay dividends in terms of the skills I’ve gained and the contacts I’ve made. In applying for the B-Hive competition I was determined to stretch myself and show that I could thrive in a fast-paced, commercial environment and thanks to the NEC Group, I’ve done it. Future employers will now see that I am an arts graduate with creativity and business experience and I feel confident that this combination will help me stand out when applying for more permament roles in marketing.
The final word…
I would certainly encourage Warwick students to apply for B-Hive. Not only will it give you fantastic experience in a creative industry environment, but potentially a great head start to your career. Submit that brief – you don’t know where it might take you!