In our series, ‘Leading in Live Entertainment,’ Ticketmaster proudly showcases women making strides in the industry to celebrate Women’s History Month. In our fifth part of the series, meet Kerrie Pope, Head of Events at Trentham Estate. Gain advice for leading in live, and learn what it means to build yourself a reputation as a woman in the Entertainment industry.

How did you get started in live entertainment?

I never really knew what I wanted to do. I was a natural organiser though and was always the one organising nights out for friends, and in the days before proms, I was the one to organise the leavers party from sixth form! My first jobs were working in pubs. I loved the buzz of it, having a job in a place where people were enjoying their social time meant that despite the long hours and the hard work you were mostly surrounded by people laughing, enjoying themselves and celebrating! I always had the travel bug though and when I was 20 I quit my job and I went to Namibia on a volunteer project for three months, and it was whilst trekking across the Skeleton Coast, I realised that I wanted to organise events. The experience of being on a big organised challenge left a mark on me. I knew I wanted to organise things like that, and so that’s when I found my direction.

From there, I took on an office manager role that had some events rolled in whilst working in New Zealand, giving me a little exposure that I could leverage. When I returned to the UK, I managed to land a role as a weddings and events co-ordinator at a venue. I worked my socks off to prove that them taking a risk on me with no real events qualification or background wouldn’t be a mistake. I studied a part time degree alongside this job for the next 5 years before I moved into event-specific charity roles and I spent over 15 years organising everything from fun runs to gala dinners! I was very fortunate to work with some amazing performers over the years in some stunning international venues, booking everyone from Lionel Richie to All Saints – and Maxi Jazz to Burt Bacharach.

What did you dream of doing when you were younger?

When I was little, I wanted to be Anneka Rice! I loved how she jumped in and out of that helicopter and was in awe at how she rallied people together and found solutions to problems. Sometimes working in live events feels like ‘being Anneka’ your often in the middle of all these activities, tasks and people trying to conduct proceedings for one big result! I think ending up in a job in live events is about as close as you can get to being in Challenge Anneka!

Can you share a memorable moment in your career that has had a significant impact on you?

In my current role at Trentham Estate, we run a 4-day music festival called Trentham Live. We are an historic garden encompassing 725 acres, with a mile long lake, woodlands and parklands – we have a broad range of members from families who love the adventure play to regular weekday retirees who enjoy the lakeside walks. In 2023, I made the decision to add a dance night to our Trentham Live event line-up working with our promoter to sign D’n’B legends Chase & Status to headline the night alongside Sigma and Luude. Standing in our event field with my director watching the 5000+ crowd go mad bouncing to Chase & Status with our beautiful lake and Italian gardens in the backdrop is something that will never leave me – it was an incredible atmosphere and a night no one in the Trentham team will ever forget!

What advice would you give to young women who want to enter the entertainment industry?

Your work is such a big part of your life so it’s important to do something you love! There are so many routes into the industry that, if you can hone a role that meets your passion and you work hard, you can and will find a way in! If you can’t get a break directly in a role, then volunteering is a great way to get skills on your CV.  If you’re true to yourself and you bring your whole self to work it will get you results, because I think it’s an industry where people buy into people. 

People are the industry’s greatest asset, so learn from everyone around you. Everyone has a story – listen to them – you might save yourself the hard lessons by learning from someone else’s mistake. Richard Branson quotes in his biography that ‘If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room’ and I think that’s a great way to ensure you’re always learning. 

Other advice from me is that your reputation is everything! Make the facts that you work hard and get the job done the things people talk about.  Be courteous to those around you – everyone is working long hours in the industry, it’s how you treat the clean up or load out crew when you’re at your most tired or most stressed that speaks louder than how you speak to the VIP on their arrival. 

And most important advice, don’t wait until you’re completely broken before you learn to protect yourself and your personal time. Anyone in the industry will tell you about how they ran back to back events, or flew from one deadline to the next missing out on being present (physically or mentally) because they were too tired or stressed or working.  Build in breaks, take the holidays, take the lieu time, because the time you spend away from work is just as important in building who you are – and that’s the thing that people are buying into long term.

Is there a particular female figure that inspires you?

I worked with a lovely lady called Nat Queiroz who went through the most horrendous experience. She was brutally attacked by her partner when pregnant, fighting for her life because he stabbed her over 20 times in broad daylight. Nat had a huge fight on her hands to live, yet Nat turned this life-changing, hideous experience into her legacy and uses her situation to bring about positive change. Nat is now an incredible speaker, author and charity pioneer. She works with school and youth groups in the prevention of knife crime, directly engaging with at-risk groups to bring about change. She is the epitome of ‘no matter what life throws at you, who you are and what your situation, with grit, determination and belief in yourself – you can succeed’. And I don’t think there’s a better lesson.

How do you measure success, and what are some of your proudest achievements?

For me measuring success comes from answering one key question: ‘Did it matter?’
Whether it matters could come in many guises like: Did people create great memories? Did you do the best job possible? Did you break barriers to entry, even for just one person?

Being in an industry where the work you do can easily become someone’s favourite memory, favourite day, something they tell their kids, their mates or something they talk about to strangers they sit next to on a plane is just amazing! Hearing a stream of people leaving a concert still singing the last song as they exit the site, smiling and singing along with the strangers around them and talking about what a great night they’ve had is the best feeling in the world.

I’m proud of so much I’ve achieved thanks to working with some fantastic teams and talent over the years, but up there with my proudest is the 2014 Butterfly Ball where we bought Kylie, Alfie Boe and Chrissie Hynde to the Grosvenor Hotel in London for a fundraising gala. I led the event and we raised over £2.5million for Caudwell Children. It was a record breaking fundraising amount for the charity and it was an incredible night with the likes of Rod Stewart, Joan Collins and Simon Cowell in the audience. We are hoping for a record year of attendance at Trentham Live 2024, so Im hopeful I can add that to my proud list too!

Who has been your biggest mentor in your career and what were some of the most valuable lessons you learned from them?

Sally Aitchison my boss at Bauer media. She was (and is) MD of Cash for Kids and was my boss when I ran the Cash for Kids charity at Kerrang! Radio. She really taught me to have conviction with my decisions. I learnt that you have to trust that you’ve made the best decision you can with the information you have at the time, and then go for it wholeheartedly. Being indecisive costs time and wastes energy. Sally trusted me, more than anyone I’d met or worked for before. She was always at the end of the phone but had a real coaching mentality and allowed me to make my own decisions and be bold with them too. I’ve worked for others who were real dictators and you absolutely don’t get the best out of anyone if you just treat them as a vehicle to peddle your own ideas and actions. 

Sally was/is the best person I know at lifting others up and celebrating them! I hope I am a better manager and team leader as a result of learning from Sally.

In your opinion, what are the key qualities that make a great leader in live?

Resilience, hard work, being a team player and of course, being mega organised. 

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