The job requires you to learn very quickly about a given industry, so you need to be curious and understand how things work. A conference producer deals with a large amount of information within a few weeks.
They are tenacious and persistent because, as in sales, they face many rejections before getting good speakers.
They are good communicators, both spoken and written, and need to be confident to talk to senior people about their industry.
You need at least a bachelor's degree or equivalent, but it does not matter which subject. It is more about the skills you learn at university, such as how to clarify and structure reasoning and writing.
Beacon's conference producers come from various backgrounds. Wade has hired journalists because of their writing and researching skills, lawyers and telecoms specialists because of their industry knowledge, and finance or supply chain staff members for their business experience.
The amount of writing and speaking required means excellent English is needed. Putonghua is useful and an additional Asian language a plus.
Work prospectsYou will start as conference producer and be responsible for five to six events per year.
For each conference, producers start by researching a given subject (for example retail in Asia) by reading industry magazines, visiting websites and discussing with about 25 people who can give feedback on their industry. The idea is to pinpoint what is hot in the industry and will still be relevant in the coming months (the conference usually happens six months after it has been conceived). A key issue in the retail sector, for example, could be merchandising or the emergence of new markets.
Once producers have a general idea for a topic, they start writing a programme and inviting leaders to speak. They also brief the marketing and sales teams who will promote the event through media or retail partners, and look for sponsors, who pay to access the audience.
They then work on communication, such as by preparing e-mails and updating the event web page, to recruit delegates, the audience who pay to attend the conference. Finally, they liaise with the operations team to schedule the event and book a venue. On the day, conference producers have to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Senior conference producers work on larger-scale events and guide less-experienced producers. They also come up with their own topic ideas, and identify potential conferences. Divisional directors are in charge of a sector, such as telecoms or retail. They are responsible for the overall schedule and their sector's profits and losses.
Someone with no conference experience can start at around HK$24,000 a month, while a senior producer can earn between HK$30,000 and HK$40,000 a month. Producers also earn commissions. That way, their salary is directly linked to their conferences' profitability.
At a glance
Conference producers have to juggle three to four projects at the same time, each of which is at a different stage of production. They have to handle the pressure of confirming speakers and delegates for a conference which is already being marketed.
But they also get to learn a lot about different industries, see the success of their projects, and meet many different people.