manipulating the senses and focussing attention on the truly important...delivering tangible, transformational business results in events

28.02.2018 14:47

Sinead Shiels, Founder of The Faculty talks about  Creating Ideas that Work for Events

1 Can you give us a brief overview of how your earlier years brought you into the creative space.

As a child growing up in the 70’s in the North of Ireland I dreamed of a future in corporate learning events….:-) Actually I have been involved in theatre and learning in one way or another, all my life. Having completed a Theatre Studies degree, I worked as a secondary school teacher, which led to a summer job at the Edinburgh Festival, which in itself turned into a career – yes I basically ran away to join the ‘circus’ for a wee while.

After a few years change was due and bizarrely I was offered a job as an account manager in an agency in London, working for, amongst others, Microsoft within the retail space. From there I was introduced to a corporate event leaning capability within Capgemini, which gave me an opportunity to combine my passion for learning and teaching, with my event experience.  With that ball rolling I was cherry picked to set up The Faculty and provide a Crew to facilitate large scale global learning events at Capgemini University and am now one of their largest suppliers. I am now the Director of Atmosphere for one of the most successful global corporate universities. From dressing as a chicken to facilitating the VP community - it’s been quite the ride so far.

 2 Sir Ken Robinson interprets creativity as ‘The process of having original ideas that have value. There are two other concepts to keep in mind: imagination and innovation. Imagination is the root of creativity. ... Innovation is putting new ideas into practice’. 
Can you add your perspective to this? 

As the comedian Phil Kay once said…’No man is an island unless his name is Madagascar’

The Faculty are a collective, a partnership of exceptionally talented individuals who have worked with pretty much everyone, from start-ups and NGOs to blue-chip multi-national businesses. Between us, we are experts in stage management, process facilitation, information management, visualisation and reportage. We have delivered intimate one-to-one environments, workshops and large scale deployments across multiple locations and time-zones.

We design by consensus and use our experience, personality and brainpower to influence the greater event good. From that vantage point anything is possible and we are free to work closely with the event sponsors and design team. We dream, ideate, visualize, challenge, synthesize and put things into practice, by taking a pragmatic approach and we do all of this whilst both having and encouraging an atmosphere of fun.

 Innovation needs a safe environment that frees the senses and liberates the imagination. The Faculty create that safe space.

3 Taking Imagination as the root of creativity, can you give us ideas on how you go about stimulating this in event teams and individuals?

The Faculty like to think of what we do as The Theatre of Business. We know our theatre is your business and our audience is your organization. Using this as our basis we have 6 areas of focus which help unleash the imagination

To unleash innovation you need an environment to match. We orchestrate at every level, from putting chairs in a circle to building circular chairs. Whatever it takes to transport your people to the challenge we’re on it.

And when that environment is aligned with the business goals, that’s when the magic happens.

We create a participant journey, based on data and knowledge of patterns and human behavior and design the event from a participant perspective. We then greet you with a smile on our face and a plan at our fingertips.

We’re not afraid to be centre-stage or on cue. We create waves with light, music and colour

We’re happy to start a movement. We’re pebbles in a pond.

Stage Management
Creating a solid participant learning experience requires stage management. Your design sessions need to have the right roles on board and contributing to achieve a successful ‘opening night’ An essential element of the design is the process. It’s essential to consider the process so we can build in design flexibility - what implications do the decisions you are making have on the inputs, outputs and audience overall.

We’ll keep everything on track, make those little modifications and ensure everyone feels comfortable. 

Process management, process facilitation, event management, orchestration - whatever you call it, we’re on it!

Information Management
We know how to capture your learning journey so you can share your experience with the business.

With facts, figures, key learnings and memories.

It might look like you’re just having fun but with our information management and reporting, you can justify your investment.

A picture tells a thousand words.

Let our graphic facilitation crew capture and condense your conversations in real time, so you can focus on listening and contributing to the content.

So go on, put your pen down. We’ve got this.

Marketing and Communication are key. We help you spread the waves your people are creating by capturing the event experience and realisations in real-time.

Words, photos and videos our journalists have got you covered creating physical and digital  goodie bags, allowing participants to stay in touch and get the event content with ease

4 And putting new ideas into practice, can you talk us through tactics to help our corporate event professionals apply their concepts to their projects?

 The most successful approach, we learned, is to

Get a firm understanding of the business rationale of the event, by co-creating 

  • Business Goals and expected outcomes
  • Learning Goals (‘at the end of the event, the participant must be able to…..’
  • The participant experience ( from initial communication to the end state)
  • The content of the event (presentations , contributors)

To get this nucleus of the event we must run Event Design Sessions, preferably with representatives of the target audience

To detail design every session and presentation, by using a 5-fold approach

  • Input, output and expected results
  • Content and content contributors
  • Interaction levels (worksession vs. presentation)
  • Agenda and logistics
  • Participant experience

To make a milestone planning with sub-projects and monitor progress in regular status updates leading up to the event

5 One wo(man)’s brilliant creative idea is another’s image of all that’s bonkers. Can you advise on how to ‘sell’ creativity into a business unit or marketing department?

In our experience, the way we have success in ‘selling’ creativity, is to find a perfect mix between

Business goals

Learning Goals

Participant experience and participant expectations


For us, in order to make an event into an immersive experience, and have a lasting effect on a participant, we focus on the participant, while maintaining the expectations of the event business sponsor. We find interactive ways to present content and turn them into a learning experience, by visualizing content, briefing presenters, coaching contributors into focusing on key messages and help them tailor their material to the target audience.

For each ‘creative’ part in the design, we find a business rationale, by explaining the effect of it on the participant.

When you’re learning you’re earning and life is just one continual learning experience which The Faculty are happy to help you enjoy..



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