“I know that FedEx does send coffins,” states Natalie. After 16 years as an event planner, Natalie Halsband has learned from a gauntlet of varying experiences. From riding in elevators with Prime Ministers to getting coffins from FedEx, she’s done it all.
Natalie started out as an event planner when she was 19 years old as a summer job. She worked for a tour incentives company in Toronto that hired her to take care of the operational side of events because of her fluency in three languages. Instead of the summer job ending in the Fall, like most summer jobs do, it blossomed into a career in event planning that led her to the Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development at U of T. It’s here that she’s able to use her in depth knowledge and skills to plan large scale meetings, like the annual Update in General Surgery.
According to Natalie a good event planner needs to be able to find balance. “You need to be able to lead an entire team, to stand your ground against a group of 500 people, making a call alone and working within a team, you need to find that balance,” she says.
What else does an event planner need to be great? “A type A personality, the vision and integrity to ensure that clients needs are upheld, a lot of patience and comfortable shoes,” she says.
Natalie’s favourite thing about being in events is watching the project she’s worked on grow and watch the people in the industry do well. “When you work on a project for a long time, seeing it grow and succeed knowing you were part of it and making your clients day,” she says. “When you encounter people that you’ve known for years because it’s a small industry and you see they’ve done well… I love that.”
What’s hard for Natalie is knowing there is always a different way to do things. “There are situations you’ll encounter and you have to realize that things can always be done differently,” she says. “You always wonder when you make that snap decision whether it was the right one.”