Here at Spektrix, implementing a new box office, marketing and fundraising solution into a venue is a really big job. Our new clients put their trust in the hands of our lovely team of Project Managers, who are pros at getting them live and set up with their new Spektrix system. Find out a little bit more about the team.
How long have you been at Spektrix?
Helen: I’ve been at Spektrix five years now and my word, has it changed since I started! I’ve always known our software could change the shape of the industry and it’s been great to see the business grow.
Martin: I started working at Spektrix eighteen months ago, although I have been using the Spektrix system at venues for nearly four years.
Ben: I’ve been at Spektrix for four years exactly! I started off as a Project Manager, back when we were at The Wenlock by the canal side with the angry geese.
Steven: I've been with Spektrix for a grand total of four short, but awesome weeks.
What were you doing before you joined Spektrix?
Helen: I was a Box Office Manager at Hampstead Theatre and before that part of the box office management team at Chichester Festival Theatre. However, I started out on a (slightly) different path as a Press and Marketing Assistant (again at Chichester Festival Theatre) and was lucky enough to intern with the press team at the Barbican when I was fresh out of university.
Martin: B.S. (Before Spektrix), I was working at mac Birmingham as the Head of Sales. We were interested in getting a new box office system. No surprises who won the contract. Prior to this I worked as Stage and Theatre Manager at Alton Towers Resort. Performing has always been my passion and whilst at Alton Towers I often stepped in to play “Grimley, The Rock Monster” if cast members were ill.
Ben: Before I worked at Spektrix, I worked for twelve years at The Lowry in Salford Quays. I started off at the age of 16 in their box office, mainly working weekends and evenings throughout my time at college and university. Even though my degree is in Spanish and Portuguese, I had a real aptitude for system management and setup processes, so I ended up being the Ticketing Services System Manager for both The Lowry and Quaytickets. My most memorable install was rolling out our ticketing services at The East Lancashire Railway!
Steven: For the better part of the last decade, I've been connecting arts professionals with the technological tools they need in order to grow in a constantly evolving landscape. Having been in the arts for as long as I can remember, this has grown to be a very passionate and fulfilling career for me. I've had the pleasure of meeting and working with some truly remarkable arts professionals throughout the US and am very excited to be a part of the Spektrix team.
What’s a typical week like for a Project Manager?
Helen: There is no such thing as a typical week! However, I’d probably expect to be out of the office on site at venues for about 50% of the time. When you’re getting an organisation live with Spektrix, you effectively feel like you’re working there for the duration of the project. We get to know our clients so well and spend a lot of time on site fact finding and preparing them for the move to Spektrix. When I’m in the office it’s a chance to catch up on email and Basecamp (our online project management tool) as well as talking progress with the rest of the Client Services team.
Martin: Every week is completely different. On average I spend around two days in the office, checking emails, having conference calls with clients, monitoring support tickets and drinking gin (only from the drinks trolley on Friday). The other three days I travel by plane, train or automobile across the country visiting new project venues, training their staff and feeding them all gin.
Ben: There's no typical week! Sometimes I can be in the office all week, either prepping for an upcoming go live, or I might be planning how best to utilise our skilled team of Project Managers and DevOps Engineers. Some weeks, I might be out of the office for a few days at a time, either kicking off the project meeting with a new venue, where we gather basic requirements and run through the anticipated timeline for implementing Spektrix or some days I might be spending time doing detailed shadowing sessions with a venue, basically watching everything a venue does and how those operations may change on Spektrix.
Steven: It's a little difficult for me to say as I'm so new to the role. However, from what I've gathered thus far, there really isn't really a typical week as a Project Manager. A Project Manager wears multiple hats and gets to collaborate with multiple channels across Spektrix, all while working directly with new users to ensure a smooth transition and an incredible overall experience. I find it all very exciting. Never a dull moment!
What’s your favourite part of your job?
Helen: Honestly I think it’s the challenge and the variety. No two venues are totally alike, although often they share similar objectives, and it’s great to be able to gather and dispense advice from all far corners of the sector. I should also mention the *air punch* moment when a decent website integration goes live. I love a good website purchase path.
Martin: Without doubt the best thing about my job is travelling around the country and meeting new people. I’m a self-confessed socialite and love building new relationships and networking within the arts sector.
Ben: I really do love going out and visiting venues. I make it my mission to be as approachable and as human as possible, and I feel the relationship I build with a venue puts them on a good footing for when they're using the system after go live. I am certainly not one of those Project Managers that sticks rigidly to a spreadsheet or Gantt chart!
Steven: What I've always loved so much about my career is the ability to create positive change within the arts sector and introduce new ideas. It's so fulfilling to connect with a client and show them a new way of performing an important operational task or suggesting a new procedure which could positively affect the organisation's growth.
What advice would you give your younger self, beginning a career in the arts?
Helen: Be flexible and willing to try out working in areas that you might not expect to enjoy. I would never have discovered just how massive my inner ticketing geek was had I not made the switch from press and marketing to the box office. You should also be ready to embrace change and take ideas with you from outside the sector. Things never stand still for long.
Martin: Ambition is fantastic, but don’t be disappointed if you're not a CEO by twenty-one. The journey you take climbing the ladder through different jobs and organisations are priceless tools that will lead to success.
Ben: I'd spend a little more time learning IT systems. I only did IT up until AS-Level, and I regret not studying it in more depth. Arts-wise, I'd say learn about when to identify that a process needs to change, and ensure that you involve people at every step along the way.
Steven: I would tell young Steve to always think outside the box and not to be afraid of taking risks. After all, the world we live in would not exist were it not for creative thinking!
What are common challenges you see with clients?
Helen: The biggest challenges are often around website implementation and digital. A lot of people still feel out of their depth in these areas and will defer to someone else's opinion without taking the time to question whether what’s happening makes sense to them. A big part of my role is making people fearless about asking those ‘silly’ questions and empowering people to learn and get the most out of their investment.
Martin: Change can be a tricky one with clients and can be seen as a bad thing. Different isn’t always better, but it’s not something to be scared of. Spektrix will no doubt do things differently to other systems, embracing these changes is the key to a smooth project.
Ben: With many of my projects, the users might have been using the same box office system for the past fifteen to twenty years. That's a long time to use a box office system, and it can take time to figure out why a team might be running through a particular process. It can also be difficult to change the process once it's identified. I'm sure many of my projects would tell you that I am constantly asking "why is this important, and what is your end goal?” Another challenge is that there can be a wide range of skills, particularly in a box office. You might find that some team members have been there for a long time and are finding the transition difficult to deal with. This is something that I make sure I keep an eye out for, as I want to make sure that everyone has a positive experience of using the system.
Steven: I think the most common challenge I've faced with clients is a reluctance to change, to adapt to new processes. However, I don't feel this reluctance stems from laziness, but more a place of apprehension. In the arts, there's a kind of sense that if something is working, why change it and risk potentially damaging an otherwise functional part of the operation? The question I then have to ask is, "is functional good enough?" My goal is to elevate my clients to the highest level of efficiency possible.
What challenges do you see in the future for the arts industry?
Helen: It’s competition, not from inside the sector but from the multitude of other things that make demands on your free time. Online streaming, cinema, gigs, social media, your smartphone; the list goes on. Not to mention that the majority of people are working more and more and competitive tiredness seems to have become sport! The arts are the perfect antidote to this but grabbing people's attention in new and forward-thinking ways should be the focus.
Martin: Funding cuts by local authorities and the Arts Council mean that venues will soon have to make key decisions to protect themselves from closure. Although this will be a tough time for the arts sector, it’s a fantastic opportunity for organisation-wide analysis with data-led thinking creating smart solutions that will benefit the customer.
Ben: I think a shrinking audience is going to be our next big challenge. As money becomes tighter and tighter, audiences are going to be less likely to visit the theatre, or see theatre as even more of a luxury than it currently is. For venues, this means that big blockbuster musicals and popular Agatha Christie plays will continue to sell well, but some of the more niche work will be a harder sell. Even when in my previous role, we were seeing a certain price point that customers couldn't push past, so we must ensure our product is priced clearly and appropriately to our audiences.
Steven: I think patron loyalty will continue to be a challenge for arts organisations. Current generations don't really subscribe to organisations the way previous generations did. With last minute access to tickets on our phones and mobile devices, a night at the theatre is as easy as going to the movies. Which in one sense is great! We want patrons to be able to easily purchase tickets to events, we just want things to be a little more predictable for budgetary reasons. The challenge becomes combining the right season with the right marketing and pricing. The good news is that data is now available to theatres in a way it never has been before. By paying attention to the data we can speak to audiences more clearly and stay ahead of the curve.
If you think a role in the project management team could be just what you’re looking for, have a look at our careers page to see what we have on offer at the moment.