‘Set an Example From the Top Down on Work-Life Integration’


Author: Staff report

Natalie Ackerman, Jack Morton’s EVP Greater China, answers questions about how event industry professionals can prevent burnout and nurture creativity.

Many professionals in the events industry experience burnout. Why is this so damaging?

People are our most important asset, we have to treat them right. In an agency they are the thinkers, the creative geniuses, the doers, and the frontline to clients and audiences. If they are not functioning at the top of their game, performance suffers and we will not grow as a business. So we have to work hard at avoiding burnout, and provide a culture of respect and understanding in order to ensure everyone is well supported.

Natalie Ackerman

How can we better manage workloads and stress to avoid burnout?

  • Set an example from the top down on work-life integration. Ensure constant communication on resource planning, knowing when projects will hit crunch time, and look after teams at those critical moments when they need it the most.
  • Holidays – take them.
  • Layer teams appropriately with a key lead and support team around them; teamwork and collaboration bring good energy and [distribute] the responsibility around. Junior staff will learn from their seniors and progress their careers.
  • Allow and encourage some downtime or less intense periods, whether it’s during the day or after stressful periods.

How can business leaders better engage and motivate staff to think creatively?

We try to bring in as many different people as possible to brainstorm sessions to get different perspectives (different departments, different levels of seniority, and as diverse as possible). Ideas can come from anyone!

I also recommend that you get out of the office to think. Immerse yourself in the product or company, and get into the mindset and head space of the audience that you are communicating to.

In your opinion, are we born creative or can we be taught to be creative?

Creativity takes so many forms, but if we define creativity as ideas, everyone has ideas. They may need help to articulate them and express them, but if everyone contributes in whatever way they can, a rich and varied picture emerges which can be the bedrock of something incredible.

We look strategically at what our clients are asking us to do and consider it in the context of the business problem they are trying to solve. Once we have the essence of what we are being asked to do, then we can layer in insights and ideas in order to deliver a memorable and compelling brand experience that will move their audiences.

In the ever-changing world of events, how can we ensure our creative ideas remain relevant?

Relevance is all about being accepted and embraced by the audiences. You can’t create ideas in a vacuum. You need to know your audience and think about the myriad ways they will react to a creative situation – whether it’s sight, sound, or touch. Knowing how to engage people to create an emotional connection is key. Through this our creativity can inspire them.

Based in Hong Kong, Natalie Ackerman is the executive vice president, Greater China, at Jack Morton.