Title: GROUP DIRECTOR OF PROJECTS
Simon Wood has been a mainstay of the Hawthorn team for nearly 20 years. As our Group Director of Projects, he oversees the projects side of the business, working closely with clients to help them deliver a range of projects from large scale conferences through to exotic overseas events. We caught up with him to see how he thinks the industry has changed over the years and what the future holds for events.
So you’ve been with Hawthorn for many years, how did you originally get into the industry?
I trained in Stage Management at Central School of Speech and Drama and used to hire equipment from Martin (Hawthorn’s CEO) for the Edinburgh Festival. One day in 1994 whilst I was still a student, he phoned me up asking if I could do a de-rig in a marquee in Battersea Park. From then on I ended up freelancing on and off with Hawthorn whilst also doing some work in lighting design, sound operation, theatre and television. I ended up taking the plunge and working full time for Hawthorn about 19 years ago!
What do you love most about your job?
Definitely the variety. No two days are the same and it keeps you on your toes. I love getting involved in projects myself and it’s always great to have the opportunity to get really creative with our kit. We have a great team here at Hawthorn so I also enjoy seeing our staff come up through the ranks, growing in confidence and going on to deliver bigger and better projects.
So, from your experience, how do you think the role of technical production within events has changed over the years?
Over the years, there have been huge advancements in the technology we’re using. With equipment such as LED screens, projectors and media servers becoming much more accessible, the possibilities are limitless. For example, you can now transport a presenter on stage from one virtual environment into another one with just the flick of a switch.
One of the other biggest changes for us has been the speed in which we operate. With today’s ‘Google Generation’, people expect to be able to click something and get an instant result. In the past, if you wanted a video editing or slide changing, it was a three-day process. Now it’s an immediate turnaround. Where you used to have three months to plan a project, now if you have three weeks and you know exactly what you’re doing, you’re happy.
So with that in mind, how do you see events changing in the future?
People have spoken before about virtual meetings or conferences and the ability to hold everything online but I think there is real value in bringing people together. The idea of holding an event isn’t just for fun. There’s a purpose to it. It’s about team building, creating an experience and sharing moments. There will always be value in that.
When you’re not busy on-site, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Eating and drinking! I’m a bit of a foodie so I love going out for meals and trying new things. When I’m not eating out, you’ll find me in the kitchen cooking up something exciting. Or looking after another set of friend’s dogs.