MEET the TEAM: Emma Broadhurst

In our MEETtheTEAM blog series,  we’re be putting a spotlight on individuals who make up our hardworking and close-knit team here at MEETinLEEDS. Today, we sit down with our Business Development Officer, Emma Broadhurst, to learn about her role within the team, and how she has adjusted following the effects of COVID-19.

What does a day in your position look like?

Just a couple of months ago, much of my day was spent preparing for numerous upcoming industry exhibitions and networking events where I was due to represent the University of Leeds’ Conference and Events team. Whilst the current situation has meant this activity has been put on pause temporarily, it has allowed me the opportunity to concentrate on other tasks.

Currently, a large part of my day to day is spent managing the proactive conference pipeline for the University. This involves research into national and international association and society conferences, particularly where we have academic strengths or association members based on campus.

I am often spotted on campus catching up with academic colleagues over coffee (and sometimes cake!) discussing their industry conferences and the prospect of hosting them at the University of Leeds. When the time is right to bid for a conference, I support academics through the entire process, creating bespoke bid documents and organising site visits to showcase the University of Leeds, our conference venues and any city attractions included in the bid.

I’m lucky to have good relationships across the city with our fabulous local attractions, hotels, venues, restaurants and breweries who we are able to collaborate with in order to enhance our bids and offer unique activities to include in our conference itineraries. I’ll be using this time to catch up with our friends across the city – and maybe even get creative with some new ideas that we can work together on in the future!

What first attracted you to the conferencing industry?

Whilst studying Event Management at University, I volunteered at numerous events from the European Gymnastics Championships and Leeds Festival to a placement at Doncaster Racecourse and Exhibition Centre.

I hadn’t given much thought to the conference side of the events industry until I started working at Calder Conferences, where my role involved finding conference venues for a range of government departments. After realising I really enjoyed the world of conferencing, I joined the University of Leeds as a Conference Sales and Marketing Executive in 2015.

I had a year on secondment where I covered maternity leave for the Business Development Manager at ConferenceLeeds and VisitLeeds before returning to the University and taking on my current role. I suppose I kind of fell into the conference industry, but I absolutely love working in it!

What has working in the conference industry taught you?

That it’s never too early to start thinking about hosting a conference! The majority of associations and societies decide on conference locations years in advance, and the bidding process can start quite some time before that decision is made. It’s never too early to start discussing the possibilities so that we are ready to get our bid in when the time is right.

What is your favourite thing about working in the conference industry?

My favourite thing about working in the conference industry is being able to help our academic colleagues attract their industry conference to the University, giving them the opportunity to showcase their research, department, the University and the city of Leeds.

I also love hearing about the benefits and legacy of hosting these conferences at the University; from boosting the international profile of the University of Leeds to new research collaborations and even local public engagement.


How are you adapting to the current situation?

I’m quite enjoying that life has slowed down. I think most of us, myself included, spend so much time rushing from one thing to another that the week seems to disappear without even coming up for air. I have kept to a routine Monday – Friday which has meant that cabin fever hasn’t set in (yet!), and I am absolutely loving not having to spend hours sat (well, usually stood) on the bus in rush hour! There are also less distractions in my home office which means that I can use this extra time to concentrate on research, projects and even some time for learning!


What does your new way of working mean for the customer?

Thankfully, nothing has changed for the customer as we are all working from home and can be contacted during office hours. The only downside is that, if I am getting in touch to discuss your industry conference over this time, unfortunately there is less coffee and cake involved!