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More breakthrough moments: Industry pros’ career turning points

Hard work, knowing the right people and a slice of good luck can all play a part in getting a proper footing on the career ladder.

IQ Magazine puts some more ILMC regulars in the spotlight and asks them to share their breakthrough moments…


Steve Strange, X-ray Touring
I’d been involved with Ash for a couple of years, but I remember going to the Astoria for the first time with them and standing on the balcony with their manager, Stephen ‘Tav’ Taverner, and having a pint as we cheered them on.

The band were still at school when I first got involved – in fact, we had to build them and plan all their releases around the school holidays, so tours and promos would take place in the Easter break and summer holidays.

But Ash was the first act that I properly helped to break, so standing in the Astoria, in a venue where I’d been so many times myself as a fan at other acts’ shows, was something really special indeed.

Twenty-six years later, my roster has grown, and Tav also manages the likes of Alt-J, Kodaline and Wolf Alice. We both still represent Ash, who we’re really close with – Tim and Mark occasionally stay with me when they’re in town from New York.

Standing in the Astoria, in a venue where I’d been so many times myself as a fan at other acts’ shows, was something really special indeed

Marie Lindqvist, Stockholm Live
I started my career in the tourism industry working in marketing for some of the major tour operators, such as TUI, and for a group of amusement parks. In 2006, I was recruited for the role of marketing director at Ericsson Globe, the 14,000-seat multi-venue in Stockholm. I had never imagined I would end up in sports and music, so this was a whole new world to me, even though there are similar challenges and opportunities – and arenas and events are certainly an important part of the tourism industry.

AEG took over the operation of the arena from the city in 2008, and all of a sudden I was part of a leading global entertainment company – such a fantastic opportunity! I learned so much and I got to meet so many experienced and smart people from the different areas of our businesses across the globe.

After a few years, I was recruited back to the travel industry, but in 2014 I got a message from Richard Krezwick, who was overseeing all the European arenas for AEG, asking if I would like to have a coffee next time he was in Stockholm. Whilst sitting in the sun overlooking the Royal Palace, he asked me if I wanted to come back to AEG and take over as general manager for Ericsson Globe and the new Tele2 Arena, which had opened in 2013. I was thrilled and nervous about the big job but excited to be back at AEG and in the entertainment industry. Since then we have also taken over the operation of Friends Arena and now operate a group of five arenas and stadiums in Sweden. We do about 320 events with three million ticket buyers annually.

It was not where I thought I was heading in my 20s, but I am so happy to be a part of this amazing industry where the worlds of music, sports, real estate, sponsorship, tourism, food and beverage and much more meet in an exciting mix.

Everything I have today is all down to John Sherry giving me back that £200 and convincing me to become an agent

Carl Leighton-Pope, The Leighton Pope Organisation
In 1977, the band I was managing, Sassafras, split up and everyone was broke. I was 25 years old and married with four kids, living in Cardiff, but I owed an agent in London £200 and I couldn’t bear the thought of being in debt, so I caught the train to the capital to give the late John Sherry his money.

When I was in his office, he asked me what I was going to do next, but at that time I didn’t have a clue – I just knew I needed to earn some money to feed my family. He thought about it for a few minutes, then handed me the £200 back and urged me to become an agent, offering me a job for £40 a week, starting the following Monday.

So I travelled back to Wales to give my wife, Pamela, the good/bad news from my trip. She was delighted that we still had the £200, but when I told her about my new job, she said, “But darling, we don’t live in London; we live in Cardiff.” Her mother had a one-bedroom flat in Notting Hill and was kind enough to let me sleep on her sofa during the week, then I’d travel back to Cardiff on a Friday evening with my £40.

Pretty quickly, though, I signed the Motors, then Dire Straits, Simple Minds and Patti Smith, and before I knew it, all the other agencies were asking me to come and work for them.

But everything I have today is all down to John Sherry giving me back that £200 and convincing me to become an agent – I could never repay him for the faith he showed in me and I’m forever grateful.


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