My Event World - Sallie Coventry

Sallie Coventry, managing director of W&O Events, on cooking, Bill Clinton and expecting the unexpected.

Sallie Coventry
Sallie Coventry

I got into the event industry because I fell into it by accident, I didn’t even know it existed. Then I discovered every day is different; new clients, new destinations, new challenges and you’re constantly learning – what more could you ask of a career?

I have worked here since March 2008. 

I was attracted to this particular role because I felt I could really bring something to W&O and I loved the people I met when I was interviewed. Quite honestly, I can’t imagine working anywhere else now. 

Not many people know that I have a modern languages degree and speak fluent(ish) French.

My worst experience at an event was when some trestle tables, covered in 400 plated meals, collapsed minutes before service.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s expect the unexpected and plan for it. You never can tell what’s going to go wrong and when.

The best event I’ve been involved in was a function to raise awareness of diabetes in the Middle East attended by former US president Bill Clinton.

If I could do it all over again I would not change much, as clichéd as it sounds. Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have great opportunities and work with some fantastic people, which have all helped me to get where I am today.

The one thing I can’t stand is assumptions; they only end in tears.

Outside of work I spend my time with my ever-patient husband, family and friends; improving my cooking skills and indulging in the odd glass of wine or two.

If money were no object I would build several hotels with a 300-400 person capacity, 500 bedrooms and dozens of breakout rooms within a quick transfer from a main hub airport. It would certainly make the life of our venue searching team easier.

The one thing I can’t do my job without is my team. I have such a huge amount of respect for them and am genuinely proud to work alongside them. They are enormously passionate and professional, which shines through every time they deal with a client or supplier.

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be one of our clients. It would also be great to hear what they really think about us, good and bad.

If I ruled the event industry I would work with academic institutions that run event management degrees to help graduates leave university better prepared with the practical skills to embark on a career in events.

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