The Main Event

Posted on Back of House Apr 2009 - by Tandoori Magazine
The Main Event

The world of event management can be competitive and exhilarating at the same time, as Priyanka Sharma, events manager at The Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Kitchen, tells Tandoori

An event manager’s job may entail working behind the scenes, but the work is no less pressurised then that of anyone working front of house. The only difference is that the face remains very much hidden and the person doing all the hard work can sometimes become an unsung hero.

Of course, recognition by one’s peers is all important though for Priyanka Sharma, who has been the events manager for the well-regarded Cinnamon Club and its new offshoot Cinnamon Kitchen for over three years it’s the challenge and the thrill of meeting different people that gives half the pleasure. No surprise then to learn that her work involves the planning and execution of events, working out the marketing and communications strategy, along with the promotion of the brand name – in other words , it’s very much a multi-dimensional role.

“My work,” says Sharma, “ranges from wedding organisation to corporate events and private parties. Currently, the focus is more on breakfast events and outdoor events. The company also has a great relationship with institutions like the London Business School, where we do the outdoor catering, which is something quite different from our in-house catering.”

Reared in the cocoon of a middle class family in Jaipur, Rajasthan, Sharma has over six years of experience in the hospitality sector, including working in such prestigious hotels and resorts as the Trident Hilton, Jaipur, the Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur, the Oberoi, Bangalore and the Leela Kempinski Bangalore, in corporate sales and marketing.

Moving to London in 2005, Sharma realised from very early on in her career that her strengths lay in the areas of lead generation, networking and building relationships. But was it difficult at all to adjust to the more cosmopolitan nature of London, arriving from the subcontinent?

“Yes, it has been a different ball game all together,” she admits. “In India, I know the culture very well, I know what people want. At an international level it’s completely opposite - London is a multi-cultural place and the culture is very diverse. I work with Eastern Europeans to Australians to Indonesians, so it’s been more difficult for me to understand and comprehend their needs and requirements.

While Sharma is very complimentary of all her colleagues, whom she notes have all been very helpful, as well as greatly admiring executive chef Vivek Singh’s cooking, she adds that she is well aware that it’s an industry where women are outnumbered.

“I think it has been difficult at times during my career,” she states, “especially when dealing with some very big egos and getting respect. But I do feel I’ve worked with some wonderful people at the same time. I’ve built some very sound and rewarding working relationships with these people, both in India and here. Besides, one can’t really spend one’s time thinking what people may or may not be thinking about me and what I do just because I happen to be a woman.

There is so much competition out there and there are so many people doing excellent jobs. I look up to them for they’re positive points because I feel there is still so much to learn. Ultimately, it’s about the work and that’s when I feel I have to be fully aware of what’s going on in the market which in turn gives me the power of knowledge.”

In the end, Sharma is a pragmatist.

“Being in a management position,” she concludes, “it is very important to lead by example, which goes for both male and female leaders. I truly love my job and I enjoy doing it, so I think if I enjoy it then others will do as well. But perception and consistency are also crucial.”

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