Nikki Donohoe - Head of Special Events, NSPCC
The NSPCC is the leading children's charity fighting to end child abuse in the UK and Channel Islands. The Special Events team works closely with influential volunteers on events and other activities across media, sports, arts and finance sectors. Since joining the NSPCC in 2014, Nikki now leads the special events team in delivering all high value fundraising events and special projects across the organisation. Her team deliver c.15-20 events per year raising over £2million for the charity.
Before joining the NSPCC Nikki worked agency side for 10 years in the corporate sector delivering an enviable portfolio of big budget events from initial inception to delivery. Nikki is passionate about delivering exceptional guest experience, the best events in the sector, raising significant funds for children and having fun whilst doing so!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Working alongside the most dedicated, fun and passionate colleagues at the NSPCC. Knowing that every time we deliver an event and generate income, we are enabling more children who so desperately need our help to be reached via our services. Being a Doctor or Brain Surgeon was never in my destiny, but to know that in some way I am having an impact and making a difference to others is hugely rewarding!
What is the best career advice you’ve been offered?
Always ask questions and challenge positively, no matter what role you are in. Take a risk, push yourself outside of your comfort zone and grab every opportunity available with both hands.
To get to where you are now, what has been your biggest challenge?
I have experienced some really challenging conversations with both clients and supporters, had a number of epic event ‘lessons learnt’ all of which have helped me to develop in my roles and move forwards. Tenacity, hard work, and keeping yourself grounded are so important. They are essential ingredients for achieving career progression and success.
How do you continue to develop yourself and your skills?
It’s important for me to keep developing my skills, to be the best I can be within my role and to keep challenging myself beyond it. I am currently 6 months away from completing a CIM Leadership & Management Diploma which has been thoroughly enjoyable, thought provoking and useful for putting into practice in my role. Empowering others within their roles and sharing my knowledge and experience to help develop my team is hugely important.
What do you see as the biggest challenge for the industry at the moment?
The events space within the charity sector is an extremely saturated market. Competition is high and events need to be more innovative and unique to offer guests an exceptional, memorable experience.
Any words of wisdom for those wanting to get ahead in the industry?
One of the best pieces of advice I was given at the start of my career was find yourself a ‘fixer’ on every event and make him/her your best friend. Ask everyone their name, remember it and make them feel important. You will reap the rewards of having been friendly to everyone you have come in contact with when you have a problem to overcome onsite.
Experience and absorb as much as you can in the early years of your career. The more exposure you have to variety and different opportunities the more versatile you will be to any prospective employer.