Meet the MD: Nicky Wake, Don't Panic Event Management

Meet the MD: Nicky Wake, Don't Panic Event Management

Here at BQ, we always have a soft spot for businesses where the name is a perfect description of the ethos of the firm. So it was perfect to catch up with Nicky Wake from Don’t Panic Event Management, to find out just how she gets her business to do what it says on the tin.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

As MD it’s my job to inspire and lead my team to ensure we always deliver high quality, credible events. I’m hands on in developing our business and also managing fantastic talents like Lemn Sissay, Andy Crane, Tom Cheesewright & Clint Boon through our speaker agency.

What is it the company does?

Don’t Panic is a one stop events agency that can also help with design, web build and sponsorship sales if needed. We’re probably best known for the awards we run either on behalf of clients or those we launched on our own like the UK, European and US Search Awards which celebrate the digital marketing industry.

We also specialise in conferences, seminars and retail leisure events activity on behalf of clients that include major brands, publishers, trade associations and the public sector. I’m incredibly proud we make so many things happen that leave a smile on people’s faces.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I started out as a promoter in the nightclubs of Manchester back in the early 90’s but as much as it was fun, I moved over to be Events Manager at The Trafford Centre for four years from launch. I then joined an events agency as Events Director where I worked for another four before leaving to start Don’t Panic in 2005 in my back bedroom. Eleven years later we’re a full time team of 18 based in Ramsbottom and working all over the world.

What do you believe makes a great leader?

Passion, drive and commitment are essential qualities but it’s equally important to have people skills and integrity. I recently graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Businesses course at MMU which was invaluable in teaching me how best to lead. I’m still learning but I’d settle for being a good leader.

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Staffing. We went through a tricky period a few years ago with a high level of staff turnover but thankfully things are much more stable now. I’m blessed by a great team and we have a policy of promoting from within which seems to be working well for us.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

A nice bottle of Rioja but thankfully I don’t get stressed that often which is probably just as well given the nature of my job. I’ve always thrived on being busy and taking on a challenge.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An actress or TV presenter. (I almost made it on to The Word, a programme many of us of a certain age will still remember fondly!)

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

Negative attitudes. I’m a glass half full girl and try to surround myself with people of a similar mind set. A fun working environment goes a long way to keeping things positive. Once a month on a Friday, a different member of our team chooses a theme and has a budget for food, drink and props so we can all unwind after a busy week.

Where do you see the company in five years time?

Right now I’m focused on inspiring a strong team, expanding our client base and growing our turnover. In five years time I’d love to have achieved that. 

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Work Hard and Be Nice to People – it’s a print we have on our office wall that has served me well as a business motto!

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