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An Interview with Priya Khosla from ‘ENGAGE’

With the pandemic having struck us in the most unexpected manner, we can either choose to succumb to our losses or use this opportunity as a means to indulge in more creative, innovative and experiential thinking.

Our next guest speaker who joined us on the evening of June 10th is a true testimony to this statement. With close to 23 years of experience in the event industry, Priya Khosla today is the owner of ‘ENGAGE,’ a consultancy coaching company that works mainly with start-ups to grow into well established businesses. She is a certified coach and graduate in mind control and intuition systems and is passionate about creating a drive to change and transform.

Her journey…

Born and brought up in Jamshedpur, Priya is a small town girl who was ambitious to make an impact and establish a successful career on her own. She took up an internship with ‘Encompass’ while waiting for her degree results and thus began her long journey in the industry as a strategic business consultant. Priya had planned on doing her masters and even attempted several examinations but ultimately went back to Encompass to work with events.

“That is when the love-affair started” she states, during which time she was sent to set up and manage their Bangalore unit. As someone who gets bored quite easily and is looking for a change once in 5 years, she has over the years taken on several challenging and complex roles and seen them through with absolute professionalism and due competence. At Encompass, Priya got the opportunity to work with integration, systems, processes and people, while being mentored by some of the most experienced, knowledgeable and talented mentors to whom she owes her success today to.

Back in 2012, as a result of a back injury, she decided to wind down and ease off on the workload. However, being the workaholic that she is, she used the time to reboot and began working on leading a change that she believed was of utmost importance in the industry. A lot of event companies are chaotic without there being any order to the mess and she, by virtue of the knowledge and experience (having worked for 15 years with one of the most organized companies) that she had acquired over the years decided to start ENGAGE.

Her second reboot happened when she became a mother in 2016, when she could not travel as much and so she decided to learn coaching and that’s the other part of her job that she thoroughly enjoys as it opens up her opportunities to meet people across the world belonging to different fields.

How should one take up a career in the Event Industry?

Having been in the industry for over 2 decades now, there were limited provisions to facilitate quality education back in the day but today there are several platforms such as team.i that are available and through which if you acquire a formal education, there is an accelerated pace of growth clearly visible.

That’s what you should invest in, learn the basics, join a company that has a system, a good medium to work with for 4-5 years till you understand that you are not just conducting events but are creating value for the customer.

Once you are confident enough to know how and what skills and knowledge to use to create that value within the organization, you can then decide how best to proceed in your career.

When you plan on starting a company of your own, understand why you want to start another company, what you plan on achieving through your objectives, what problem are you solving when there are already 5000+ companies.

If you are not able to answer these questions and start without any formal education,the chances of long-term survival are bleak. After answering the ‘why’ then start with the how, when and what. Most companies that are even 8 years old still don’t have formal departments and are run by word of mouth. There needs to be a value proposition that is created which is both path breaking and meets the requirements of the client. She believes that they have yet to complete the full circle.

Can smaller event units afford departments?

A 15cr company cannot be considered a small one. It is in the helm of growing and unless the systems are in place, that won’t happen. There needs to be well defined rungs in the business so that if tomorrow the head of the business isn’t available, the business can still continue.

Can small 2-5cr companies collaborate to hold 10-25cr events?

Collaboration is definitely welcome but today we have a level playing field where companies with even 30+years of experience are back to the starting point learning about an interim/ full paradigm shift.

So a 4 year old company can play along just as well with a 30 year old company if they have the right experience and knowledge. Today it is all about the personalization and content that is created for the client that is of utmost importance, it is what will drive value, personalize it and make it more immersive.

A collaboration, where 3-4 companies bring in their strengths such as production, content, digital skill will make for the perfect fit. If there is a fight for the same skill set there might not be the collaboration success they are looking to achieve.

Companies that have reached the 15cr mark are not able to grow further, say to a 20-40cr company, why?

Priya believes that the issue is with the product. You might have brought in the right people and the systems but there is no evolution of the product, no up-scaling being done, no investment to build the skill set of the human force.

It is basically creating value and giving the client a new story that is unique to him. She has been doing a lot of gap analysis with the companies now looking to know how to proceed when the new normal is established.

What has Priya Khosla done in the last 77 days?

Inherently a very structured person, she believes in the 4 circles of life, those being home, self, relationships and work and ensuring that each circle is given due care and attention.

Spending time with family and ensuring that everyone is in a good mental state, spending time with her daughter, baking, yoga, meditation, up-skilling her mind space and reading, while on the work front, she is doing webinars, and online training programs which is a great opportunity for her to branch out and connect with other interested parties thereby looking to make her consulting more accessible to people.

What does the future hold for the event industry?

There is a dynamic change that has taken place and in the future we will see a mix of physical and virtual mediums coming together. Similar to demonetization, when online transactions were the paradigm shift there were still cash transactions that took place.

People adapted and changed according. Physical and digital are coming together and people have to up-skill, there are a lot of gaps on the digital front that need to be addressed and organizations need to mend these gaps. It is not a want anymore, it is a need.

Advice for the Event Management Aspirants

“Events are here to stay and people need to have resilience and patience and up-skill themselves at this point of time. If you want to learn and grow there is nothing stopping you.

People need the physical connection, there is a closeness that comes with an event and that is missing at the moment. But even virtual events have the emotion aspect to it, however small it may be as it is ultimately human nature so I advise you to stay. Ours is a very resourceful and resilient industry and we are here for the long haul.”

A session that was so engaging that it made you forget the concept of time and kept you at the edge of your seat is one that you know for sure is a winner and our session with Priya was nothing short of exceptional.

In case you were unable to be a part of this discussion you can click here to access the video.

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