In person: Caroline Earley - Events and promotions manager, Nissan (GB)

A passionate environmentalist helping to drive car sales and a live-marketing advocate who cheerily admits that she has little time for hobbies because of a "really bad" work/life balance, Caroline Earley, events and promotions manager at Nissan, is a woman of contradictions. That's not to say she's in the wrong job. Her conviction and passion for events shine through. "With this job you get to visualise, structure and deliver a creative project," she says. "You're not desk-bound, there's variety and very few other roles allow that."

It's that love for her job that's kept her at Nissan for most of her career, but it all kicked off for Earley at PC giant Computacenter, where she worked for three years. That company has a reputation in its sector for a work-hard/play-hard ethic and Earley says that she still misses its legendary parties. From there she hooked up with fragrance supplier Roure, where holding sampling events for perfume buyers first piqued her interest in the live side of things.

She started at Nissan in 1991 working closely with dealerships and her role included helping to organise their events. It was a short hop from there to becoming events coordinator in 1994, which took in the "happiest working years of my life," she says. "The most exciting period was the late 1990s, when Nissan entered the British Touring Car Championship.

We'd be out every weekend at different circuits and it was great to be part of a winning team."

Two years as events manager for Nissan's fleet department rounded off the experience she needed to get to the top of her tree as events and promotions manager. This combines the events business and organising Nissan's annual conference. Held at the Manchester ICC, the four-day event targets a different audience each day - dealer principals, followed by internal staff, sales and service managers from the dealerships and finally fleet customers. The rest of her time is split between major exhibitions, fleet get-togethers and working with Nissan's 220 dealerships.

Earley says her biggest challenge is demonstrating ROI. She insists measurable metrics have to be clearly outlined before anything gets the green light, both from those upstairs and before dealer partners are asked to put their hands in their pockets.

On top of that, Earley has seen the Nissan events department shrink from a staff of six to one. "My agencies are fantastic but someone has to make the final decisions and when you're running five or six things at the same time, it can be a great drain on my time." Fortunately, she has total confidence in the power of live marketing. "Once we have set our targets it allows us to review and judge our successes. There is no better sales or marketing tool than getting real product in front of real people."

On a personal level, Earley says that when she gets time, she likes nothing more than a night out with the girls or a meal in a good restaurant, but its green issues that really get her animated. "I try hard to be as environmentally friendly as I can in my role," she says. "It has moved much further up the agenda this year and a lot of venues and agencies appear to be putting a much greater emphasis on it, which is really encouraging."

No one can question her personal commitment to the planet. She already has solar panels to heat her water and her next two big purchases are going to be a domestic wind turbine and some chickens. "My neighbours have just got some bantams - they lay eggs, they're cute and they keep the pests down," she laughs.

With that, she's off to embark on an uncharacteristically laid-back day - viewing a showreel to help her decide on the entertainment for next year's conference, before jetting off on holiday. She says she's looking forward to the break, but you can be certain she'll come back all guns blazing.

EARLEY ON ...

... her biggest inspiration

I have been passionate about the environment and the natural world since I was a child, and so people like David Attenborough have always been a huge inspiration to me.

... juggling finances

Managing budgets is tricky. Events are obviously high profile and require a decent level of investment to create something memorable that befits the brand. However, you're often working within fairly tight constraints, which make it very hard to deliver. You have to be flexible and imaginative.

... her most embarrassing moment

My dear old Dad fitted a kitchen blind for me three weeks ago and insisted to me that it wasn't see-through. I have just realised this is not the case and I'm not certain I have always been completely appropriately dressed.

Right now I can't look my neighbours in the eye.

... the environment

A lot of people still feel that they can't make a difference, but it really is the case that if everyone does something small it will add up to make a big impact.

CAREER PROFILE
1991-present various roles from southern regional office coordinator to
events and promotions manager, Nissan (GB)
1989-1991 sales executive, Roure
1986-1989 sales executive, Computacenter.

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