My Event World - Nicky Milligan

Nicky Milligan, the managing director at MCM Creative Group, spoke to Event about her reasons for switching from recruitment to events, her work with John Lewis and love of 'Londoning'.

Nicky Milligan is managing director at MCM Creative Group
Nicky Milligan is managing director at MCM Creative Group

I got into the event industry because I was headhunted by the founder of the business, Neil Crespin. He was looking for someone to help him take MCM to the next level through clear and professional business-like leadership.

Even the most creative agency needs checks and balances to become or continue to be a successful business. I had run a couple of businesses previously which were completely outside of the events sector. Neil said he didn't need anyone from within the industry, but someone who knew how to run a business.

I have worked here since 2009. Where has the time gone?

I was attracted to this particular role because of two main areas – firstly it was a very different industry to the one I had been working in for the previous 10 years. High street recruitment at times seemed a difficult service to promote, being reliant on the human factor of sourcing temporary and permanent workers and hoping they would turn up.

The communications industry seemed more appealing and certainly sexier than blue-collar recruitment. The key principles were the same though – construct and agree on short, medium and long term business objectives, lead and motivate a team, attract new business, retain existing clients, offer exceptional service to clients, control and manage margins and deliver a profit.

Secondly, I felt the objectives of the role were something I could deliver very quickly in adding value and really make the company succeed in its ambitions. Although I wasn’t the managing director in my previous role, as commercial director I was responsible for a division generating £70m of sales and a team of 35 people, so I knew how to manage profit and loss and deliver results.

Not many people know that I am a natural red head (okay...ginger!)

The best event I’ve been involved in was the John Lewis 150 – it was the most exciting event MCM delivered last year because of the sheer size and scale, alongside the uniqueness of the occasion and how important it was to John Lewis

If I could do it all over again I would have worked abroad, particularly in New York.

The one thing I can’t stand is a lack of preparation or planning. Wrongly or rightly this means to me one of three things – you are either not on top of your job or in control of what’s happening, you are ‘winging it’, which is obvious and often makes you look foolish, or you don’t care as much as you should.

Obviously I won’t accept any of these, and the higher up an organisation that you go, the less excuses there are.

Outside of work I spend my time ‘Londoning’. This is my first job in London, and the first time I have lived in this amazing city. I really enjoy its vibrancy and culture, not to mention the shops and amazing restaurants. So shopping and eating – coupled with some exercise so I can do it all again the following weekend.

If money were no object I would have a chauffeur. I’ve always wanted to work for a corporate whereby I could get collected for work and bought home again, and on weekends for shopping and eating out. My husband would say he already provides this service, but I have to sit in the front of the car with him and he talks to me – it’s not quite the same.

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be… It’s pretty safe to say that women dominate the events industry, so although it’s not directly in the same space, I would like to take on Thomas Kochs' role – he is the general manager at Claridge's.

I love that place. It is truly synonymous with impeccable heritage and inherent glamour that makes it one of the greatest hotels in world. Look out Mr Kochs, I’m coming after you.

If I ruled the event industry I would mandate that all clients limit the number of suppliers they invite to pitch, and they would have to pay for ideas at the pitch stage.

More: My Event World - Anabel Fielding

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