Conference News April 2018 - Page 38

38 Big Interview Career path next level. With a 123-bedroomed hotel, we have brought new business to the city in excess of £2m, and last year we brought the wide portfolio together with the creation of Leicester Conferences. This is essentially the sales arm based at College Court with the responsibility of all commercial business coming into Leicester. This provides a great one stop shop for the customer where their business can be placed into the most suitable venue for their size, requirements and budget. How did you first start working with Venuemasters and how has the organisation changed? As a young man I was on the Board when it was first formed back in the early eighties and when I was in the Venuemasters office a few weeks back it was interesting to read minutes of that time. I joined the Board in January 2017 and became chairman in November. The Board carried out a business Most amusing incident seen at an academic venue? When I worked at Warwick we had completed a major refurbishment. The new suite could cater for 600 and also sub-divide into four separate rooms each with lighting controls. I was showing my boss the flexibility. At the touch of a button you could be plunged into darkness, another offered bright light, with many permutations in between. I was not aware that the empty room I was busy pushing buttons in had not been isolated from an adjacent one where we were serving dinner for 200. They must have thought they were in a disco! We have plans to double the Venuemasters membership to 90 by 2022 review and a two-day strategy meeting in November 2017 produced a 12-point plan to take the consortium to the next level. We have plans to double the membership to 90 by 2022; we will soon be launching our new website, Learning and Development Academy and our new brand of Academic Venue Solutions which will offer some great marketing opportunities to a targeted customer base. How do you relax out of ‘conferencing’ hours and what hobbies and/or causes are close to your heart? While I am passionate about work, I do find it quite easy to switch off. I can relax working in the garden, sitting by the chiminea chatting with friends and love the Peak and Lake District for some breathtaking walks. I just enjoy being with people and certainly get energy from my family and friends. What key piece of career advice would you give to a young event professional starting out in the academic venue world today? Work hard, be true to yourself, don’t be afraid of mistakes (you will learn from them), treat everyone you meet with respect and have fun. I started off in a family owned business in South Wales which consisted of two hotels and at the time the largest banqueting suite in Wales where we could cater up to 800 plus. Hard work, great fun and I learnt an awful lot from both my successes and mistakes. An opportunity then presented itself to join the University of Cambridge. Six universities later I am now at the University of Leicester, which I joined in July 2013. Working on the commercial side, my roles have ranged from Warwick with 5,000 beds, even bigger now, to Missenden Abbey with 57.