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OK, Boomer: Closing the generation gap

OK, Boomer: Closing the generation gap

Chair: Jon Chapple, IQ Magazine / ILMC (UK)

Panellists: Phil Bowdery, Live Nation (UK) | Jen Hammel, CAA (UK) | Kevin Jergenson, ICM Partners (US) | Scott Mantell, ICM Partners (US) | Maria May, CAA (UK) | Joe Schiavon, Live Nation (UK)

This new session paired up senior executives from leading concert businesses with their more junior counterparts to compare experiences and ways of working.

ICM Partners’ Kevin Jergenson opened the panel explaining he had interned with his now-colleague Scott Mantell for two summers, then started in the mail room before becoming Scott’s assistant and then an agent. Mantell said everyone needs a mentor, and for him, mentorship is about identifying young talent. And learning goes both ways – he said he’s learning a lot from Jergenson.

Live Nation Executive President of Touring, International, Phil Bowdery, said encouragement is important. “You don’t want to stop people making mistakes but one of the quickest ways to learn is to mess something up,” he explained. His colleague, Live Nation UK promoter Joe Schiavon said for someone like him there’s a lot to learn from Bowdery, especially about working on arenas.

Jen Hammel joined CAA in 2013, having reached out to agent Maria May to say she wanted to work for her. May said the two are like a partnership, adding Hammel is fearless because she is so supported. “She inspires me to push further and do more,’ said May.

Mantell said the relationships he has in the business tend to be with people who’ve been in the business for longer, while Jergenson also introduces him to new people.

The panel agreed we work in a relationships business and admitted people can get stuck behind emails rather than picking up the phone. Mantel said a good theme of the ILMC this year has been an encouragement to call people, because it’s less confrontational than on email.

Host Jon Chapple asked the panel what changes aren’t happening fast enough? Jergenson said he feels there’s a generation above Mantell that doesn’t always understand the pressures on more junior team members.

One of the questions from the floor was what talents the more senior panellists are looking for in employees. Jergenson and Mantell agreed that it’s a demanding job on people’s personal lives, so people should know what they’re getting into, as well as having good taste in artists. 

Another audience member asked what can be done to improve diversity at senior level. May said there’s been a big push regarding this, but it takes time for that to be reflected at senior level.

Following the mental health panel earlier in the day, the group was asked how they avoid burnout. “Don’t go partying,” joked May, before saying people need to be mentally strong and work hard. Having friends outside work and other interests is really important, agreed all members. 

To conclude, the panel was asked what advice they would you give their younger selves. Jergenson said “Remember you’ll get through it and you’ll still love it despite the personal sacrifices.” Mantell said “Be kind. Do business with a smile.”

Bowdery agreed, adding that it’s important to listen, learn and watch. Schiavon said the best way you can learn is by your mistakes. And be OK to make mistakes. May said she would advise her younger self to be brave and find people to work with that make you feel good about yourself. Hammel said her advice would be: don’t be afraid to voice your opinion especially if you’re the youngest in the room.