September 14th 2021

Career advice and inspiration: Michael Eakin, Chief Executive, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

My role as Chief Executive of Royal Liverpool Philharmonic:

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic comprises one of the country’s major professional symphony orchestras; a leading concert hall, and a major music education and outreach programme.

As CEO my job is to lead this organisation of some 250 staff and musicians – setting the direction and strategy with colleagues; ensuring we deliver our programme effectively and attract the audiences and participants we want to reach; and ensuring we are financially strong and achieving the income we need to thrive. It is about supporting the many brilliant members of the team to give of their best, and work together to those shared goals.

What do you love most about your job?

The fact that we have a unique product – music – and the job involves seeing that product through every stage – from the conceiving of an idea – a particular concert, or learning programme for example – through to actually seeing the audience or participants experience and enjoy it – and at best, having their lives changed for the better by it.

What was your first move into / experience of the music industry?

After university I got a junior job in a small theatre in West London that put on all kinds of shows, including a wide range of concerts of all kinds. As part of a small team, I worked in front of house, marketing, box office, programming – pretty much every function. It was a great grounding.

Explain a defining moment/role in your career?

Getting this job (Chief Executive of Royal Philharmonic). To have the opportunity to head up one of the most important and iconic music organisations in the country is an unbelievable privilege, and after thirteen years I still learn something new every day.

What three pieces of advice you would give to your 16 year old self, aspiring to follow a similar career path (include relevant work experience, networking, professional qualifications etc)?

  1. Getting into the sector can be hard and you have to be prepared to start in almost any position and work from there. Once you get an opening at any level take the opportunity – work hard, be prepared to do anything, and be curious and learn
  2. Work experience, or activity in the sector of any kind – stewarding, casual technical work, amateur or community involvement is always good at showing your interest and commitment and in giving you useful experience
  3. It is a competitive sector – be prepared to get knocked back. But reliability, competence, creativity and enthusiasm are huge assets; if you have them you have every chance of going as far as you want.