Having worked with Hawthorn on a freelance basis for ten years, Matt Herd joined the team full time in 2014 as a Project Manager. Based in Hawthorn’s busy Park Royal office in London, Matt looks after a variety of exciting venues, including the SSE Arena, Wembley and The Science Museum. We caught up with him over a coffee to find out a bit more about what he does and how he got here.

What made you decide to make the switch from freelance to a permanent member of the Hawthorn team?
When I was a freelancer I used to do a mixture of project management and lighting technician work. I really enjoyed the creative side of project managing so I decided this was the area that I wanted to focus on. When an opportunity to join the team came up, it was an easy decision to make the switch and I’m so pleased I did. It’s such a varied job and every day is different. I love working with clients to give them something new, something they’ve never seen or done before.

What’s been your stand out project?
One of my favourite jobs has to be ASAP20 in London. The Filipino Channel brought their variety show to the SSE Arena, Wembley to celebrate its 20th Birthday and we provided full technical production. The show had an audience of 10,000 people and featured some of the most respected recording artists in the Philippines. It was a massive production with a rig of over 200 moving lights, with CO2 jets and confetti canons. The final result looked amazing and the client was over the moon.

So you look after all of Hawthorn’s jobs at the SSE Arena, that must be really exciting?
It is! I love working on arena events and Wembley is one of London’s most iconic concert and events space so it’s amazing to be part of that. It’s a really versatile and flexible venue so it gives us endless possibilities and allows us to be really creative. We’ve been on their list of preferred suppliers since early 2015 and I get a buzz every time we do a job there.

What advice would you give to young people trying to enter the industry?
Gain as much experience as possible in as many disciplines as possible. The people who I know who have succeeded the most in the industry are the ones who can turn their hand to anything. My area of expertise was always lighting but to be as flexible and as versatile as possible I soon realised that a grounding in all disciplines was essential. Since that day I trained as an electrician and a carpenter and have a working knowledge of draping, sound and AV.

So tell us something about yourself that we don’t know…
A long time ago I used to be an actor and I actually starred in two episodes of ITV’s police drama The Bill. My character robbed a jewellery store and was arrested by Jim Carver. I used to be quite good, if I do say so myself, but I was always more interested in what was going on behind the camera than in front of it.