Backstage with Katy Roberts
This week, we go “Backstage with” Katy Roberts. As the Head of Live Operations at ITV, Katy is someone who knows all too well about the live events industry. From managing catwalk shows to bringing to life Britain’s most loved daytime TV show, Katy has a wealth of experience in managing many spectacular events.
How did you get into the live events industry?
I had been working for Budweiser since I left university, working my way up from the promo team to a key account manager, looking after bars and pubs across London. As with all good career moves, it happened purely accidentally when Anheuser Busch restructured and I was made redundant. I was determined to get into the wedding market as an Events Manager but was offered a role at a b2b exhibitions company so took the opportunity. On paper it was far less interesting than my previous role; an account manager on a construction exhibition where I specialized in the flooring, electrical and lighting sections of the show.
However, it led to an internal move onto a fashion trade event which was much more up my street. I became Head of Womenswear, managing catwalk shows, looking after the exhibiting fashion brands and overseeing customer marketing. I then moved on to launching this event in Shanghai, taking European brands to Chinese retailers at a point when the Asian fashion market was booming. Although the role was a huge challenge, I learnt so much about working with different cultures, troubleshooting while onsite, managing an event at a distance and looking after customers who I had to take to the other side of the world. I then moved from b2b and into the b2c event world, launching This Morning Live in partnership with ITV. A shopping event which attracted 30,000 visitors and 250 retailers as well as an array of talent to manage as well as ITV stakeholders who were new to the exhibition and events world. Following three successful years running This Morning Live, ITV asked me to join their commercial & licensing department as Head of Live Events, my main project being 'I'm a Celebrity...Jungle Challenge’.
What are your favourite things about your job?
One of the satisfying things about working in live events is seeing the blood, sweat and tears coming to life as an experience that brings so much joy and excitement to guests. The I'm a Celebrity attraction should do just that, and one of my favourite things about this project is leading the workshops we have on bringing the much-loved TV programme to life, including the jungle sounds, lighting, merchandise and detail in the props around the 'camps'.
What’s the proudest moment you’ve had working on a project?
The moment that Holly and Phil took to the stage for the first time at This Morning Live in 2017 was probably the proudest moment of my career. The excitement of the audience was palpable and when the biggest stars of daytime TV appeared from the wings, it was like being at a concert. The sound worked, the stage didn't fall down, the talent were on time and we even achieved the live link back to the studio with no glitches. It had been my most challenging launch and I couldn't believe that I had achieved the vision we had imagined 8 months previously without any huge dramas. A large proportion of the audience for This Morning are disabled or have mental health issues so watching how happy the event made them was pretty bloody heart-warming.