The hearts & heads behind 116 - Paris & Henry
Lights. Camera. Action! If you want an event at 116 to have music, a PA system or a live feed then you need to speak to Paris and Henry. They look after sound, lights and vision and say that no two days are the same when it comes to working at 116...
Tell us a bit about yourselves...
Paris: I’m a senior AV technician and part of the production team from Oxygen Events that are permanently based at 116 Pall Mall. So, my role is to make sure all the technical side of events go to plan, that we deliver everything that clients expect, and they get the best possible experience.
Henry: I was born in Uganda but I’m half Ugandan/half Kenyan. I came to the UK when I was 13. But I never thought I would step foot inside a building like this, let alone work here. The moment I did, I focused on developing relationships with every department across 116 and the IoD. Fostering those relationships and gaining the respect of my colleagues has been very important and hopefully it’s one of the strengths of the AV team.
Paris: We’ve taken a step back from the technical side of things and we’ve become more focused on building a team of freelancers, crew, external contractors. Henry is particularly good at spotting talent.
How long have you been working at 116?
Paris: We’ve both been working here a year. I previously worked for a company called AVC which is one of the biggest AV companies in the world. But had an opportunity through my colleague here to work at 116. And it’s such an impressive venue that I found it too hard to refuse!
Henry: It’s funny how life works because I’m basically Paris’s protégé. We first worked together 17 years ago. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be a sound engineer. I follow his lead but we bounce off each other.
What is a typical working day?
Henry: A lot of people see us but some of them can never quite work out what we do. A few might have thought we were part of a security team! A typical day would involve setting up sound desks, microphones, speakers, TVs, and doing soundchecks. It can also sometimes involve rigging up lights. Paris is an all-rounder, so he can do pretty much anything!
Are there any challenges of working within an historic building?
Paris: Obviously you have to be very careful of the paintings. You don’t want to damage a work of art that is hundreds of years old! But the benefits far outweigh the challenges. I consider it to be a privilege to work in this building like this.
Henry: Going back to when we first met, there was no way I would have believed we could have ended up working here. I’m very proud to say that we work here.
Of all the events you’ve worked on at 116, which ones are your favourites?
Paris: We had Nick Hewer from The Apprentice and Countdown here. Michael Gove hosted an event here recently. We’ve had Donald Trump impersonator appear at a charity event... At the recent IoD awards we had ‘The Voice of God’. He’s the man who reads out the numbers on the National Lottery and he’s got a really distinctive voice. So, we really enjoyed working with him as well as Louise Minchin from BBC Breakfast News. She hosted the event which was held in the Nash Room. Another great event to work on was the BaxterStorey charity dinner that was held here in May.
Henry: There are so many events being held here all the time that it can be quite difficult to instantly remember them all. But we’ve done events for HSBC, the Aviation Club and we staged an exhibition for the hospitality industry...
We’ve also hosted events for the governments of Dominican Republic and Egyptian governments. And we’ve even had royalty. The King of Malaysia was recently here.
What are best things about working at 116?
Henry: You see things and people you wouldn’t see in any other walk of life. There is a lot of pressure involved because of the prestige of the events you’re working on. But that makes it even more rewarding. Sometimes events are streamed to other parts of the world and it’s great to know that somebody, somewhere in the world is watching an event that you’ve helped to stage. At times it doesn’t feel like work.
Do you get many last-minute requests?
Henry: You always go out of your way to please. In one case we had an event where they said ‘we don’t need a mic, or speakers’. But as the room started to fill up, and it got noisier, they realised ‘we need a PA.’ There was only 20 minutes left until it was due to start.
I could see how the important the event was to the organiser so I managed to quickly put together a PA. That sort of thing has happened on more than one occasion, although in this case she offered to pay cash to get it fixed. But that’s not how we do things here!
Describe your job in three words...
Henry: Rewarding. Challenging. Adventurous (because you never know what’s going to happen from one day to the next!).
Paris: Responsibility. Variety. Interactive.
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BOOK YOUR EVENT AT 116 PALL MALL
One of the most prestigious addresses in London, 116 Pall Mall is situated in the heart of the West End and offers a range of flexible spaces across five floors, perfect for any kind of event for up to 1,500 people.
You can even hire our whole building exclusively on weekends.
Make an enquiry for more information.