My Event World - Steve Perkins

Steve Perkins, head of corporate events at Chillisauce, has been at the company for two years. He talked to Event about the buzz at Chillisauce, why the Vodafone Ball has been his best event and why he detests chocolate fountains.

Chillisauce's head of corporate events, Steve Perkins
Chillisauce's head of corporate events, Steve Perkins

I got into the event industry because I could see my position on the Asda tills under threat from self-service checkouts but I still wanted to work with people. Why events? It’s like a world tour where you don’t know your next daily destination. Making ideas and imagination come to life and being part of our clients' evolution is enough spice in life to keep anyone’s excitement burning. Where else can you go from a 600-person human beatbox workshop on a beach in Thailand to learning to be a stuntman in Pinewood Studios?

I have worked here since… in events, since my first shave. I’ve been at Chillisauce since 2012. I joined the team to take control of the snowballing success Chillisauce was experiencing in corporate events. I sensed that the growth, client wins and awards were humbly unexpected, so I jumped in with both feet and haven’t looked back since. It’s been an amazing and ambitious journey which still hasn’t stopped beckoning for more.

I was attracted to this particular role because the office had beer on draft and the team seemed to have more parties than they did meetings. Seemed like a good balance to me. It’s the buzz, the atmosphere and the culture at Chillisauce that’s so addictive. No idea is taboo, no concept is too crazy, and nothing old-fashioned seems to exist. The drive of the organisation is mind blowing. I’ll never forget walking through the door and feeling the wave of energy from over 100 people completely absorbed in events and loving every minute of it.

These guys weren’t joking when they said Chillisauce Corporate was doubling year on year and there was more to come. They threw me the reigns and the rest is history.

Not many people know that I used to be a national champion in dragon boat racing. I also climb mountains for fun: my yearly escape involves sleeping in snow caves at the summits in the middle of winter. And I’ve also got a Blue Peter badge somewhere.

The best event I’ve been involved in was the Vodafone Ball. Every single employee attended the party of all parties. More than 10,000 people across eight huge arenas of entertainment and experiences you would never imagine to be at a party. There was categorically something for everyone. Everywhere you looked there was a different theme, a different bar, something to do, something to see and something to enjoy. If I had a pound for every time I heard "OMG check that out!", well I probably wouldn’t be writing this for a start. Even I was shocked when the surprise headline act was Robbie Williams.

If I could do it all over again I would probably take a little more time to enjoy the events in a more hands-on role. I sometimes think I may have been a bit too ambitious and greedy at a young age and ended up desk-side before I could really appreciate the fun to be had when you’re directly in the mix of live events.

The one thing I can’t stand is people who don’t prepare for interviews, chocolate fountains and those who live in houses overlooking the sea. I can’t stand it when someone has clearly come for an interview on a wing and a prayer thinking they can just talk the talk. You can spot it a mile off. It’s such a waste of both people’s time.

Chocolate fountains – they were great when they first arrived on the scene but come on, would you have one at your event? It makes my toes curl every time I hear one suggested. And people who live overlooking the sea – I hate them purely because I’m jealous, extremely jealous, nothing more.

Outside of work I spend my time outside as much as possible. My passport to events started from my passion for outdoor pursuits and watersports. Anything that involves pushing the limits and challenging myself. I’m always conscious to never give up what I love. My job fuels my life and to find the balance of enjoyment on both sides is really important to me. It’s pure escapism to be clinging to rock 200 metres off the ground with only one option to go up. Or hearing the thunder of white water when you’re heading for a big rapid in a six-foot kayak. It really focuses your mind on nothing else but the thrill.

If money were no object I would probably set up the world’s best and most remote outdoor activity centre for kids. Completely free of charge so every young child out there gets to experience a life outdoors that they sometimes might not. I love nothing more than giving the youth of today new experiences and new opportunities in life. And for me, I’d start a Formula 1 team, buy a marina in Monaco and extend the M25 to 48 lanes.

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be... that one’s got me thinking. Probably Charlie Whiting (F1 Race Director). What a mammoth challenge to keep such a prestigious calendar of events at the very top of the game when the world is looking so heavily upon each one.

If I ruled the event industry I would open up more opportunities for more young people to get into events. We see hundreds of applications every year from event management students, desperate to put what they have learnt into practice and make the dreams that fuelled their studies come true. It’s such a vicious circle of experience versus qualifications and there are some seriously talented young people out there.

Want to be featured in a future My Event World? Email news editor Samantha Edwards for further details.

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