My Event World - Ben Hack, Sunshine X

Ben Hack, managing partner at Sunshine X, tells us about his love of event planning from an early age, his fear of small spaces and his desire to add more balance to the industry.

Ben Hack has worked at Sunshine for one year
Ben Hack has worked at Sunshine for one year

I got into the event industry because… From a very early age, I was obsessed with live experiences thanks to growing up minutes away from the Glastonbury festival. When I was a kid, I used to spend hours designing imaginary festivals and events, right down to programming dream line­ups and drawing up site plans. I never thought I’d actually be able to turn this into a job but, when I left university, I got a job working for a nightclub producing global club tours. It was both a brilliant lesson in how to conceptualise, produce and commercialise events, plus the springboard I needed to move to London and turn something I loved into an actual career.

I have worked here since… March 2015, and never has a year flown past so quickly.

I was attracted to this particular role because… The Sunshine Company is unlike any other place I’ve ever come across – the vision and ambition of the company is fresh and exciting. It’s enabled me to utilise the best of my client and agency ­side experience to help set up Sunshine X, plus work alongside a brilliant, entrepreneurial team of specialists across a wide range of disciplines, in London and the US.

Not many people know that… I have a phobia of confined spaces, which wasn’t much fun when I once got stuck in a lift for nearly two hours with a load of clients in Switzerland on one of the hottest days of the year.

The best event I’ve been involved with was... Every time you pull off something big for the first time it is always particularly memorable. So, standout events would be a two-­day Studio Artois multi­-arena film festival in Greenwich Park for 20,000 people in 2006; the first MTV EMA aftershow party I did in Munich in 2007 (also one of my steepest ever learning curves); a series of launch events for Calvin Klein in London, Berlin, Mexico City, Beijing and Sao Paulo; and most recently the Adidas Futurehouse in Shoreditch.

If I could do it all over again I would... Worry a lot less. When I was in my twenties, I wasted a lot of energy stressing and worrying about things that I had no control over. If you have a brilliant idea, you’re working with the right team and you trust your gut instincts, then experience has taught me that everything always works out okay in the end.

The one thing I can’t stand is… Clunky, old­fashioned ‘brand experiences’ with forced content ‘moments’, photo opps and pointless hashtags. And the use of new technology simply to get a quick headline. There is sometimes a tendency to a pounce on new technology and industry buzzwords with the mistaken belief that they automatically mean ‘good’ or ‘the future’.

Technology can be a wonderful tool, but nothing can replace or beat the human imagination. The most exciting people working in the industry today are those who have the skills to navigate their way through this ever­changing world and create genuinely compelling experiences that live within popular culture and people’s lives, not just in the pages of keynote presentations and fluffed­ up case studies.

Outside of my work I spend my time… Either getting out there and experiencing as much culture and life as possible or unplugging; returning to my Somerset roots and escaping to the countryside.

If money was no object I would… Travel more and give myself more time to develop new entertainment and experience formats that don’t rely on commercial funding to get them off the ground.

If I could switch places with anyone in the industry I would… Love to work alongside Es Devlin – in my opinion, set design is a form of magic and she’s someone I admire enormously.

If I ruled the event industry I would… Find a way to integrate more balance. It has to be one of the most addictive industries in the world, but remaining connected to your life outside of work and to the wider world is an essential part of being good at this job and sustaining a long and successful career.

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