Sharon has worked in the Arena for 18 years, first at the Odyssey Arena as Executive Assistant and now as Event Booking & Development Manager in the renamed SSE Arena, Belfast! Recruited by PWC before the Odyssey opened their doors to the public she was the Executive Assistant to the previous CEO. Her duties included all event diary and contract management, including booking the artists shows in (she’s the lady you want to know!), human resources AND customer services! (In a time when fax and letter was still more popular than email – we don’t know how she did it).
Now she’s dedicated to developing our plethora of events and actively looking for shows to develop and nourish in our new Theatre format.
When I asked this, her first reaction was ‘OMG’, unfortunately, those words weren’t going to cut it!
She’s described it as exciting, challenging and interesting!
Sharon describes her days as ever-changing. In a dynamic company like an arena where it is event focused – no day is the same! The details for a prospective event can change within hours and Promoters can make contact at any time of the day or night so she keeps up to date by re-checking all correspondence from the day and night before she cracks on. Throughout the day, she’ll constantly be checking date availability, keeping up to date with tickets sales and marketing initiatives, meeting with prospective bookers for site visits and taking part in conference calls with those who are further afield. Every event is different and daily liaison with Box Office, Operations and Marketing referencing the many different aspects of an event pre and post contract stage is very important. If there is any time left at the end of the day, it’s spent on Research – keeping up-to-date with other Arenas and local venues and via specialist subscriptions to ensure she is in the know and aware of trends across the industry.
Working closely with all departments means Sharon is impacted by all the changes within the Arena and pinpoints a few. One is the digital and technological change to the business. Any developments the company have had are dictated by technology. She explains that it ranges from shows going ticketless, the marketing of an event turning digital and the need for analytical data to understand our customers.
Another would be the management change from SMG to Odyssey Trust. She’s witnessed a complete overhaul of company vision and is delighted to be working closely with W5 and Belfast Giants in a site-wide partnership.
As an outgoing character, it’s very obvious that for Sharon the favourite part of her job is working with so many different people. She explains that getting to work with different promoters and convincing them to take their show to The SSE Arena, this is where she revels in her work. In particular she has enjoyed bringing brand new shows like Farmers Bash, Lush Classical and The Spectacular Aladdin to the arena and working with local teams from Northern Ireland on these events.
“It would definitely be MTV Europe in 2011”. Having worked from 2009 securing all the details for the show, she explains it was a different experience dealing with the MTV team, with such diverse needs from them but definitely the most enjoyable.
When asked this, Sharon has no qualms in her response – Lady Gaga. She makes sure I know that’s not her usual cup of tea (not quite cool enough), but that the showmanship that Lady Gaga has is out of this world! From the costumes of the show, her vocals and the engagement with fans – she had to go see her twice! Lady Gaga won over a fan!
“I saw him in Dublin in 2003, it has to be David Bowie!” Remembering that “back in the day “she would receive faxes from Bowie’s Agent, John Giddings looking for possible Belfast dates (and also for Roxy Music) but devastatingly it was not to be!
Roxy Music – Same Old Scene
Madonna – Let it Will Be
Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On