Women in rental
By Michelle Nicol, CERP
By Michelle Nicol, CERP
I had the pleasure of being part of the Women in Rental panel during last months Rental Mart and let me tell you, it was a powerful and eye-opening experience. If you missed it, hopefully you caught the replay as we shared stories, tips and insight into what being a woman in the rental industry has been like. The panelists were from all different backgrounds, education and had different introductions into the rental industry. For some, they joined because of a family run business, for others, their careers started as just a summer job. For me, I was introduced to a large rental company in Toronto through an industry contact, after graduating from Seneca College’s Event Management program. Upon graduating, I wasn’t sure which sector of events I would head in so I happily accepted the offer, and 15 years later, I have not looked back.
During the Women in Rental panel, we also discussed how we can spread the word to other women looking to get into this industry but who may need a little help. Referral incentives for existing employees and speaking to colleges, universities and trade schools about women in rental are just a few of the amazing ideas we discussed. It’s all about setting an example of what being a woman in the rental industry means and all of the endless possibilities that await them.
Being in the event and party sector of the rental industry, I have been fortunate to have only faced a fraction of the challenges that my female colleagues in the construction and tool industries have, but that is not to say that women in the event rental industry have not had to crush barriers as well. I think we have all experienced that situation of being overlooked by certain customers, those looking to “speak to a manager” or wanting to speak to a man who is perceived as having more experience with certain equipment.
We can overcome these obstacles by continuing to be visible within our industry and increase the representation of women in all areas of rental, whether it be event, construction or tool. We are so fortunate to have many strong women pioneering our industry and setting an example and path for the future of women in rental. Our industry will continue to flourish and grow with women at the helm, but we have to continue promoting why rental is a career that is full of opportunity and growth potential for both women and men alike.
If I were to give advice to any women looking to enter the event industry, it would be to ask all of the questions and never stop learning. Take advantage of all webinars, classes and training sessions, whether it be for sales or equipment. You want to absorb as much knowledge as is available to you, as that is what will keep you engaged and an asset to your company. Also, don’t be afraid to get involved in your local or national boards and committees. You will meet other women in rental from all walks of life who are always eager to share stories, tips and tricks. The rental industry is dynamic, exciting and full of possibilities for a fulfilling and exciting career.
Michelle is an award-winning account manager and festival specialist with Higgins Event Rentals in Toronto. She is an active member in industry associations and enjoys serving on a variety of boards and committees.