Backstage at The Lowry: Simon McCole, Conference & Banqueting Manager

This is now my 11th year at The Lowry and I love the place just as much now as I did when I first entered through the hallowed Stage Door. In this time I have seen many changes. My own job role has changed; colleagues have come and gone and our staff car park has become Media City. One thing remains constant – the buzz of working in and creating a world renowned venue.

As the Conference and Banqueting Manager, supported by a team of Event Delivery Managers and catering assistants, I oversee all manner of events. It is not a job which you can be shy in. One day I can be the Master of Ceremonies at a wedding overseeing the ‘I do’s’ and announcing the speeches and the cutting of the cake. The next day I can be filling in for a guest speaker standing in front of 300 Chinese delegates reading a script about the British economy. All of this just appeals to the inner performer in me I guess.

If there is such a thing as a typical day then my days tend to start at 7am. First job is to check the event room has been set up according to the client’s specifications. I’ll brief the catering staff on the order of the day and ensure that we are always ahead of the game and fully prepared to respond to any last minute changes in the schedule. I’ll be on hand to assist with directing delegates, doing photocopying for the client and just generally being on call for any eventuality and in doing so I liaise with pretty much every department in the building to deliver the events. The day isn’t completely done once I have waved goodbye to the client and all delegates and packed everything away as there is always another day to prepare for.

Whilst I enjoy all of the above, what I really look forward to are the ‘biggy’ events. At the time of writing this in fact we are gearing up to one of these – Britain’s Got Talent Auditions! This is their fourth time with us and I’m probably now only one of a handful of people in the world who knows how Simon likes his carrots chopped (his favourite snack). Also folks – got grey puffiness around the eyes? Simon’s personal makeup artist swears by placing cold teaspoons straight from the fridge onto his for 10 minutes before the cameras start rolling!

As you can see the job is really varied with no two days the same. It is this, coupled with simply meeting the people I do and aiming to exceed their expectations, which makes this such a wonderful job.

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