“Oh hell, I don’t remember!” Jan Spencer exclaims when asked how long she’s been an event planner. “I’ve always worked in the Faculty of Medicine and the opportunity came up. It was part time and they approached me, so I jumped at the opportunity.” Jan has worked as an event planner at the Office of CEPD for two decades and this July we’ll see her retirement.
With so many events under her belt she has a lot of experience to speak of and wisdom to pass on. According to Jan, organization and tolerance are the keys to good event planning. “You have to be organized to the nth degree! You have to enjoy working with people and have a healthy dose of tolerance,” she explains.
In her long career Jan has experienced some great events and some dangerous ones, like when the ceiling of a ballroom caved in at a hotel in the middle of a conference. It all started out as a little drip and then it progressed to water rushing down in torrents. No one was injured when the ceiling caved in, but Jan had to have everyone moved out of the ballroom into another room, then she had to re-set up the space and manage to carry on with the conference.
“I ended up holding an umbrella over the data projector,” she said.
A ceiling caving in is not the hardest part of event planning, although it may seem that way.
“The hardest thing is trying to keep all of the people happy all of the time,” says Jan pausing to add “or most of the people happy most of the time.”
“In 20 years there have been some amazing successes,” she says. “The best part of the job is the people we work with and for and the satisfaction of seeing the results of the planning.”
When asked what she’s going to miss about event planning when she retires Jan just laughs.
“I couldn’t answer that right now,” she smiles. “Can I get back to you in six months?”