One of our talented Event Production degree students, Clara Sousa-Shaheed, recently got the opportunity to represent our industry partner, Robe UK, at the PLASA Show, the UK’s leading international trade event for live entertainment technology. Clara got to work side-by-side industry experts, pick up some new contacts, and apply the skills and knowledge she’s been learning on her course. Read on to find out all about Clara’s experience.
Robe is among the world’s leading moving light manufacturers, recognised for its innovation, quality engineering and dedication, to the very highest production values. From music and theatre touring productions to TV studios, corporate events, exhibitions and hospitality venues, Robe is pioneering innovation in the entertainment industries with its cutting-edge products, engagement and technological advancements. A global brand, the company is based in the Czech Republic with subsidiaries in six key markets – the U.S., U.K., Middle East, Singapore (Asia Paciﬁc), France and Germany – and over 750 skilled staff worldwide.
Next Robe Generation
Robe UK runs a free networking community, set up to share its knowledge and experience of the UK lighting industry with the next generation of young professionals looking to work in the entertainment lighting world – this is called the Next Robe Generation (NRG). NRG offers a programme of unique work placements and technical experiences supported by Robe UK.
Second year Confetti BSc (Hons) Event Production student, Clara Sousa-Shaheed, recently benefitted from one such NRG opportunity down in London. Robe UK recently did a call out to a wide range of universities asking students to apply to be NRG Ambassadors at the UK’s leading sound and lighting trade show, PLASA. Asked what motivated her to get involved, Clara said:
“I wanted to work with Robe at PLASA because I was a fan of their company values and production process. They manufacture some of the best lighting fixtures in the world and this quality is really reflected onto their employees. I saw this opportunity as a chance to grow my personal and technical skills and make meaningful connections with people who share similar interests.” – Clara Sousa-Shaheed, BSc (Hons) Event Production
PLASA Show is the largest industry trade show in the UK and takes place each September at Olympia London. Each year, Robe has the largest trade stand at the show incorporating elements of live performance regularly throughout the day.
Clara was one of five lucky university students selected to support the Robe team on their trade stand at PLASA. Prior to the event, Clara took part in a training day where she learnt all about the lighting show and the industry-leading products they would be showcasing. The full day of in-person training also included roleplaying client interactions and demonstrating fixtures. On day two, Clara joined her fellow NRG crew members in London for an eventful day full of insights, networking and professional development. We caught up with Clara to find out more about her role and the kinds of skills she developed, she said:
“My role as a Robe NRG PLASA ambassador was to support the Robe sales team by providing good customer service, such as greeting and directing clients. I really enjoyed informing potential customers on Robe’s new fixtures and answering any of their product-related questions. Also, on the final day, my role included RobSspot operating on the main show.
“Over the course of PLASA I used interpersonal skills such as active listening and effective communication to navigate conversations with customers. I had developed these skills from working in teams with different people on my course and applying them at PLASA increased my confidence. Also, the technical knowledge I learnt in my course built a strong foundation in my understanding of Robe products, which allowed me to demonstrate them to clients.” Clara Sousa-Shaheed, BSc (Hons) Event Production
This isn’t the first time Robe UK has provided this kind of internship opportunity and over the years it’s seen many students from across the country benefit from the experience. Many of whom are all now working successfully in industry – three of the former NRG Ambassadors have even achieved full-time employment with Robe UK! Asked for her thoughts on the scheme and how the experience has benefitted her personal and professional development, Clara said:
“The internship struck me as a productive opportunity to meet industry professionals, network, and increase my technical knowledge on Robe products. I am pleased to have achieved all of these, all whilst making like-minded friends and honing my social skills. The PLASA internship has been invaluable to my progress in the industry, and I would highly recommend this opportunity to those interested.” – Clara Sousa-Shaheed, BSc (Hons) Event Production
With the support of our Confetti Work Placement Manager, Lucy Greaves, we’ve built up a strong relationship with Robe UK and NRG. The partnership is helping to create beneficial “Do It For Real” opportunities for Confetti students like Clara. Our partners were really impressed with Clara’s contributions to their activity at PLASA, here’s a word from Robe UK LTD Sales Director, Ian Brown:
“Every year I am amazed by the quality of the students, it makes the choosing of the team harder and harder! This year’s team were excellent – they listened, they learned and projected a professionalism above their years on the stand – in fact quite a few customers thought they were permanent staff!
“We look forward to helping Clara move into her chosen career path and support her future success when she graduates and to watching Clara and her fellow Robe Ambassadors shaping our industry in years to come.” Ian Brown, Robe UK LTD Sales Director
Robe NRG Initiative Manager, Jane Monk, was similarly full of kind words and is keen to provide further opportunities to Confetti students, she added:
“Clara was an asset to the NRG crew – her enthusiasm was exceptional and always happy to help! NRG exhibition crews are an integral part of our initiative – it gives students a hands-on experience of joining a Robe show team! From talking to customers, to operating RoboSpot™s – it is also a unique opportunity to network with lighting designers and other industry professionals.
“NRG has a strong relationship with Confetti, and we’re delighted to be able to offer a programme of training and work experience to all lighting students pursuing a career in entertainment lighting.” Jane Monk – Robe NRG Initiative Manager
Asked what it was like getting to know the Robe team and working alongside them in London, Clara said:
“Working with the Robe team has been an enjoyable and supportive experience. I found it valuable to observe the professional sales team approaches to clients and the Robe team were always happy to answer any of my questions. We are all adaptable and strong communicators, which is key to remaining organised in a busy event like PLASA. Working in a team where everyone is encouraging and truly enjoys their job is inspiring, and I look forward to working any future opportunities with them again.” – Clara Sousa-Shaheed, BSc (Hons) Event Production
Exhibitors came far and wide to PLASA show to showcase all that is new, and all that is possible in Audio, AV, Lighting, Rigging and Staging. The opportunity to represent Robe UK and NRG gave Clara lots of scope to network and make some valuable connections for the future. Clara added:
“Not only was being part of the Robe team a networking opportunity in itself, but every PLASA attendee I spoke to became a moment to network. People are interested to hear about the NRG programme and the upcoming talent, so I felt welcomed anytime I would introduce myself. Also, the Robe team are very enthusiastic to showcase NRG students and introduced us to big industry names like Tim Routledge and Ken Billington – you never know who you’re going to meet!” – Clara Sousa-Shaheed, BSc (Hons) Event Production
RoboSpot™ and beyond
At PLASA show, Clara became well acquainted with Robe’s signature RoboSpot™ motion camera. RoboSpot™ is a follow spot system which features an integrated HD camera remotely controlled via DMX to pan, tilt, zoom and autofocus. The revolutionary piece of equipment means it’s no longer necessary to send operators into the rafters of venues to operate heavy and cumbersome traditional follow spot fixtures that take up valuable space in the world’s live entertainment venues. Instead, operators can now safely control multiple fixtures from any location within the venue, reducing set-up times and operating costs. Clara really enjoyed demonstrating the product at the event, and found it one of the most rewarding parts of the internship, she said:
“Honestly, I can’t choose just one element I enjoyed the most. Every aspect of my role was engaging and helped me mature as a student in the industry. If I had to choose just one though, the most memorable part was operating the RoboSpot™. Before PLASA I had only ever practiced with a RoboSpot™, and so being able to play a crucial role in the show with such an ingenious bit of kit was exciting.” – Clara Sousa-Shaheed, BSc (Hons) Event Production
Clara fully intends to make the most of the confidence and experience she’s gained, and is looking forward to the second year of her Event Production degree course, she added:
“The experience I gained from the internship has provided me with a solid foundation to pursue more opportunities in the field. The relevant skills I learned from the Robe team such as their methodical and attentive approach to event production are ones I will adopt and use throughout the rest of my university course and in my future career.” – Clara Sousa-Shaheed, BSc (Hons) Event Production
We want to thank Robe UK and NRG for providing fantastic real-life industry experiences like PLASA Show and look forward to supporting one another further in the future.
“We truly appreciate the relationship that we are developing with Robe NRG. The work experience and training opportunities that they are providing our students are exceptional. We are looking forward to the state-of-the-art RoboSpot™ training that their experts will be bringing to Confetti Event Production students later in the year.” – Lucy Greaves, Confetti Work Placement Manager.
“It was a great opportunity for our students to work with a prestigious company who specialise in the latest lighting technology.” – Rob Baldock, Confetti Senior Lecturer & Event Production Course Leader
“It was fantastic to see Confetti students working alongside one of the best worldwide manufacturers, Robe Lighting at PLASA London 2023. Robe is recognised for their quality engineering and dedication to the very highest production values.” – Bryan Rankin, Events Technical Manager, Confetti Media Group.