Delivering world class events

Sarah Walsh, Programme Manager at it@Cork tells us about her career
Delivering world class events
 Sarah Walsh it@cork. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

Name: Sarah Walsh

Age: 37

Lives: Cobh, Co. Cork

Job title: Programme Manager and Event Coordinator at IT@Cork.

Salary bracket: As it@cork is a non profit making organisation we have to be budget conscious but of course I am paid for the work that I do and the role itself is a very rewarding one!

Education background: St Mary’s Primary School Cobh / Cobh Community College.

Hobbies: Piano in evenings (Currently working through Grading).

Describe your job in five words: Member Focus, rewarding, eventful, challenging, diverse. My job is to deliver world class events and initiatives for our members.

Describe yourself in five words: I am very much a people person and our it@cork members are at the heart of everything that I do. I would also describe myself as creative, someone who enjoys communicating, a good project manager and I bring a sense of humour to work everyday!

Personality needed for this kind of work? The key personality trait is the ability to remain calm and focused at all times. We have so many innovative programmes going on in it@cork (Tech Summit, Leaders Awards, Women in Tech, DealBroker and Tech Talks, so there are many deadlines and priorities to manage. Priorities can change quickly so a flexible attitude is also very important.

How long are you doing this job? Five years.

How did you get this job? I worked in a few freelance positions in event management and when this position became available I applied for it. The last five and a half years have flown and I really enjoy coming to work every day.

Do you need particular qualifications/experience? It is essential to be a good communicator and have the ability to manage people’s expectations. Attention to detail is crucial and experience in project management and public relations are a necessity.

Describe a day at work: Depending on the range of events that are in progress, my days can be very different. During our larger events like Tech Summit and the Leaders Awards my day would start at 8am and would be spent in a variety of locations including event location e.g. City Hall, County Hall, at our sponsor premises to coordinate marketing messages, at our office in the Rubicon Centre arranging event logistics and with our PR agency defining strategy.

How many hours do you work a week? 40.

Is your industry male or female dominated? This is just my general perception but it seems to be that there could be a slightly higher male representation in the IT sector. Certainly, however, we have a strong female membership at it@cork and with girls being encouraged towards the IT sector at an early age with innovative programmes such as I Wish, hopefully this will be addressed in the coming years. Having said that, we have an all-female office at it@cork and have elected our first ever female Chairperson, Caroline O’Driscoll from KPMG in April 2017.

Does this affect you in any particular way? No, but it would be fantastic to see more females choosing IT as a career as it can open up so many doors and the sector is thriving here in Cork.

Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: Challenging and rewarding but rarely stressful!

Do you work with others or on your own? There are currently three of us in the office, myself, Annette Coburn (Skillnet Manager) and Lisa Monaghan (Accounts Manager).

When do you plan to retire or give up working? Retirement isn’t really on my radar as of yet!

Best bits: Working with our member companies on a daily basis and also with the board of it@cork who are all involved on a voluntary capacity and who have brought this organisation to the level we are at today.

Worst bits: The day before a large event I’m always slightly nervous but when the event has been deployed successfully the buzz is fantastic and I find myself on cloud nine for a few days afterwards.

Advice to those who want your job? As well as studying for a relevant qualification, the key is to gain hands on work experience in a similar role within events organisation, PR, Project Management or a busy administrative role.

Any other comments?

I would strongly encourage people to engage with us in it@cork. We are a non profit organisation that strive to promote the region and help our members large or small to network and gain traction for their business. The good- will offered to all members is terrific.

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