This month, CN puts Adam Sternberg, director of Sternberg Clarke and Trevor George, in the Hot Seat.
What attracted you to the events industry?
It wasn’t so much the events industry as the entertainment industry. I was booking my friends for gigs at various venues and it occurred to me that venues would appreciate a supplier of entertainment who knew what was out there. The rest is history.
What is your USP?
Sternberg Clarke is focused on London, while the newly acquired Trevor George caters to the rest of the UK. Our USP is having regional offices and the ability to source acts anywhere around the country, as well as providing unbridled creativity.
Are there sectors the events industry can learn from?
The advertising industry. Networking events in particular shouldn’t be the same old experience but should be creative and a bit different.
The advertising industry is known for constantly reinventing itself and I’d love the events industry to do the same. I often liken the experience of events to a conveyor belt, as guests experience a linear evening when they arrive, talk and sample the canapés. I’d prefer there to be a few surprises for attendees; to get them off the conveyor belt and experiencing something memorable.
What can the industry do better?
Take more risks. Tying in with my answer earlier, the industry is very set in its traditional ways. Music acts are very popular and rightfully so but there are many brilliant genres of entertainment out there that can wow an audience. Likewise, there are many popular event themes that we hear time and time again. Going for something original often creates an unforgettable occasion.
Greatest achievement in your career?
There are a few that stand out but I think our first venue accreditation was a huge achievement. Although we have grown within the industry, we all start somewhere and being accredited at the Natural History Museum was a wonderful feeling and a very proud moment.
What is your biggest weakness?
I’m much too passionate about new ideas, which often clouds my logical side. I often get caught up in the moment and build on suggestions and notions in meetings. Of course, then it comes to putting the ideas into practice and the logistics are often a lot harder than your imagination believed.
What single piece of great advice did you receive in your formative years at work?
I wasn’t given any as I went straight into doing what I’m doing today, but if you’re running a company, I would say that you want to work with someone with complementary skills. I’m not so good at the financial aspects of things, whereas my business partner Duncan Clarke is exceptional in this regard.
What has been the most difficult situation you have dealt with?
For this question I have a both serious answer and a not so serious one. In terms of the bigger picture, I’d have to say the economic crisis in 2008 and 2009 was a very difficult situation for the business as companies held back from doing too many events.
In terms of the narrow picture, a difficult situation arose in the early days when an act turned up to an event with a duckling under his arm. He’d saved it en route to the gig and wasn’t sure what to do. That certainly had me raising my eyebrows as it was a prestigious venue. Ultimately I looked after it until the RSPB arrived.
Advice for those looking for a future career in the industry?
Immerse yourself in the different parts of the industry in order to get a broader experience and discover what you truly want to do.
There are so many parts to events that it can be difficult to get your head around at first. That being said, no matter where you end up, you’ll find yourself in a very rewarding industry.