Personal account: Joanna Norden

The event manager at Save the Children on when to step back from organising.

The best advice I've had

Last year I worked on our Christmas fundraising event, which was attended by more than 450 people. It was a huge project and my colleague Sara Cunningham's advice was to just keep going. When we were taking phone calls constantly throughout the day and having email overload and, of course, lots of last-minute things going wrong, Sara would start singing the line "Just keep swimming ..." from the film Finding Nemo. It sounds silly, but it's what we did - we just kept going, smiling and laughing, and in the end it all went to plan.

The biggest challenge I've faced

One of the biggest challenges about this job is managing relationships with lots of different types of people. There is the unenviable job of managing expectations and knowing how much resource you can commit to a project. On a couple of occasions I have put in lots of time and effort, only to see a small amount of money raised.

My greatest hit

This was probably my first event for Save The Children, which was a beneficiary event where I had responsibility for the entire charity's involvement. There were months of preparation, planning meetings and frayed nerves, but I pulled it off in the end. Although there have been many events since and often larger events raising more money, I'll never forget the feeling of successfully getting through the first one.

My worst moment

When I got married I decided that because I was an event manager I should organise every element of the wedding, from designing the dresses to picking the tablecloths. As the wedding drew closer, things became more stressful and, despite my initial self-confidence, I became overwhelmed by all the details.

Two days before the wedding I went for my last tanning session. As I stepped out I heard my phone ringing and I answered it to hear my caterer saying that he couldn't get hold of any salmon for the wedding day. I charged out of the salon to try and fix this latest disaster, but 30 minutes later I realised I wasn't wearing my engagement ring.

I ran back to the salon to find that it had gone. I was devastated and spent the rest of the day in floods of tears.

My top tip

Don't think you can organise every detail of an event. And no matter how stressful the situation, take time out in the day to have a good giggle.

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