“You can’t exactly ask 2,000 guests to wait outside for two hours, now can you?” says event tech veteran Heike Trebuth in emphasizing the role that time pressure plays in successful event implementation. With over 1,800 events taking place each year at the Estrel Berlin — and well over 300 of those having more than 1,000 attendees — professional tech management is key to a successful event.
Three ladies in tech at the Estrel Berlin are playing an integral role and literally “setting the stage” for that success – Katharina Katschorowski the IT specialist, Janin Gumnior in sound technology, and the grand dame of event technology, Heike Trebuth, Event Production Coordinator.
Trebuth’s years of experience working in literally all aspects of event technology, coupled with her status as Bachelor Professionell of event technology in field lighting and staging, make her an invaluable asset to the Estrel team.
“The project managers here at the Estrel do an excellent job looking after their own respective events,” she says. “It is the periods between events, during the overlapping setup and dismantle phases, when I am best able to spot implementation snags before they become a real problem.”
After starting her career in the late 1970s as a stagehand, Trebuth developed a passion for light design, which resulted in her running her own event production company — one of Germany’s largest. In the ’90s, she mainly worked for TV shows and industrial presentations. Among her customers were the CEBIT, Hannover Messe, and, later, the Berlin Love Parades. In 2009, she joined the team at the Estrel.
She highlights that the time required for setup and teardown is sometimes underestimated, leading to potential conflicts with the other events. Here, her depth of experience enables her to advise the client most accurately about how much time is required to set up or dismantle the stage. Having literally done it herself, she knows quite well and at a glance how long things take.
When asked what it is like to be a woman in tech, Trebuth has tales to tell. Back when she completed her first master certificate, she was one of only three women in Germany to do so. Even today, when clients call with technical questions and hear a female voice, they often state, “It is a technical question,” implying an uncertainty in speaking with a woman about a tech-related question; on occasion, clients flat out say they would prefer to speak to a man.
Because she is very client-focused, though, Trebuth does not let such situations get her down. She is reassured knowing that she works for an organization that supports women’s empowerment and overall inclusion. With Ute Jacobs at the helm since 1995 as one of the two Estrel Berlin general managers working among colleagues from over 50 countries, the Estrel Berlin sets the bar high for equal opportunity.
“Sometimes,” Trebuth says, “truly creative solutions are required.” In these cases, she devises a scenario in which the tech setup may be successfully erected in sections and stored in a different space, thus enabling the final setup to be implemented in a much shorter time frame. Such creative solutions win and keep customers, ensuring that events from such global players as K5, Tupperware, and IEEE come back to the Estrel year after year.