How I Got Here - Nicola Casperson

Nicola Casperson is the head of events and entertainment UK for Westfield shopping centres in Shepherd's Bush and Stratford. She talked to Event about the importance of both agency and client experience, how a business studies degree led her to work in events and her experience at Imagination, BSkyB and Diageo.

Westfield London's head of events, Nicola Casperson
Westfield London's head of events, Nicola Casperson

What do you do and how long have you been in your current role?

I am head of events and entertainment UK for Westfield Stratford City and Westfield London centres, which involves project managing and production delivery for all of our events including light switch-ons, film premieres, ice rinks, grottos, food and summer activity alongside our regular music programme Westfield Presents. No event we deliver is ever the same. I have been in my current role for three years.

Where was your first job? What was the most important thing you learnt there?

My first job was at Diageo, the drinks company in the commercial marketing department. I worked in the team who were responsible for the training on the correct serve of every brand across the Diageo portfolio from whiskey to Tanqueray gin, Smirnoff Blue and Guinness – I ensured every tipple was served perfectly.

This included training sessions on the brands, serving equipment, layout of back bar and design and delivery of a website for licenses across the on trade. I quickly learnt how important knowledge and serving of the Diageo brands was for the success of the company, revenues of the licensees and enjoyment for the consumer.  

How did you get from there to where you are now?

In my twenties I decided that I wanted to get some experience agency-side so I moved to Imagination as an account manager. I was lucky enough to work on a wide range of events around the world including corporate hospitality for the Champions League final in Moscow, design and delivery of the Ford stand at Goodwood Festival of Speed, a range of various press launches and media drive events and the global autoshow programme for Ford Motor Company, including shows in Paris, Frankfurt, Barcelona and Geneva.

After four years I felt it was time to move back to client side and took a role at BSkyB as project manager looking after their cycling partnership with British Cycling, and the design and delivery of the Sky Ride grassroots cycling event programme across the UK, including the Mayor of London’s Sky Ride which attracted more than 100,000 people and their bikes.

This job was very much around campaign delivery and I worked closely with the marketing and PR teams along with our agencies who helped to make the Sky and British Cycling partnership the success it is today.

Looking back, did you expect your career path to take the course it has?

Not at all. I did a degree in business studies at university as I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career. I hadn’t planned to work in events or sponsorship but now I have been working in this field for nearly 11 years it definitely seems the right job for me and my personality.

Would you do anything differently?

I wish I had taken some more time out to travel around the world after university before starting my career but unfortunately I had to start paying off the rather large student debts. In terms of career moves and companies I have worked for then definitely no regrets as I have had some great experience along with meeting some good friends along the way.

Who has inspired you along the way?

Previous female managers who have helped me solve challenges by looking at things differently and encourage me to think more strategically, as well as colleagues who keep reminding me to maintain a good work/life balance and have fun while still getting the job done.

Have you ever had a job interview that went particularly well or spectacularly wrong?

My past two roles I had at least five interviews with various managers and directors in the business before a job offer was made. It’s always nerve-wracking to be interviewed by members of a team you will ultimately be managing in that role, which happened to me when interviewing for my current role in Westfield.

Is there a piece of career advice you've ever been told that has stuck with you?

Never assume, always ask the question. Keep a calm head and focus on the solution in moments of utter panic in a live event.

What career advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?

For events a mixture of agency- and client-side experience is invaluable to understanding the full picture in every delivery and getting to work on a range of totally different events and projects always keeps things new and exciting.

How do you wind down and relax after a hectic day?

A large glass of Pinot Noir in my local pub in East Dulwich and then try to make it to the gym the next day.

Want to share your career story with us? Email news editor Samantha Edwards to feature in a future How I Got Here.

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