Top Banana a-peel

Worcestershire-based events agency Top Banana this summer enrolled Tom Lavin, Georgia Perrin and Sasha Wood, three aspiring creative event professionals, into their Design Academy. It’s a scheme aimed to help students gain real life experience in the industry.

Each student took ownership of part of a live client project, working collaboratively within the team and with art director Dave Pinches. “I’ve been fortunate to work with some inspiring, nurturing humans and that’s infectious,” said Pinches.

“It’s about connecting with other human beings. When I went into teaching I wasn’t really sure why I wanted to do it… I just knew I did. The same is true with the Design Academy, it just feels right to be helping these guys along the way,” he added.

How did Tom, Georgia and Sasha develop over the summer?

When they first arrived they were really intimidated about working on live projects. By the time they’d finished working in the studio that fear had turned to excitement which will stand them in good stead as they head out into the world of work.

What surprised them most?

Georgia was notably surprised by the complexity of bringing an event together and loved being a part of something much bigger than just the straightforward creativity.

All three of the students referred to the time constraints as a big learning curve and seemed to enjoy working as part of a team – something they haven’t perhaps experienced to the same extent during their studies.

How important is nurturing new talent?

It’s important to treat graduates with respect so they can flourish.

It’s tempting to throw them in at the deep end and allow them to learn through their own mistakes, but this risks overwhelming them and undermining their confidence. We take the time to immerse all new starters in the Top Banana way before they’re asked to work on a live project. They get to spend time in each department, finding out about how we do things (and why).

What qualities are needed to succeed in the industry?

Curiosity. Showing curiosity about the world around, and the ability to absorb ideas from every part of one’s life and then to draw on those ideas as inspiration for work.

What the new eventprofs said:

Sasha Wood: “Being a creative as I wanted to be and to have to work around brand guidelines at pace – that was a real challenge.”

Tom Lavin: “I’ve learned how to take my initial idea through to a concept that I can actually show to people.”

Georgia Perrin: “Having a realistic timeframe on something was really helpful – to see if I was capable of doing it.”

Martin Fullard


Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard: journalist, presenter, producer. Martin is the Deputy Editor at Conference News and Conference & Meetings World magazines. He leads the digital channels on Mash Media’s Conference Division as well as heading up Mash TV. He is formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

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