I love sport of all descriptions, music, books and going out with my friends! After finishing at uni I was offered and accepted a place on something called the World Class Start program. This is essentially a program run by Great Britain Rowing to train athletes to compete and win medals at the Olympics. I had never rowed before but had the right physical attributes and with the Olympics in London in 2012 it was too good an opportunity to turn down! It was a great experience for me but after 12 months and a lot of training I decided to take my first tentative steps on the career ladder.
So I moved away from Reading to London, swapped my lycra all-in-one for a suit and tie, and my 30 hour a week training schedule for a 50 hour a week job with a FTSE 100 recruitment consultancy. This was hugely developmental period for me where I learnt all about business and being commercially minded. I learnt how to sell and interact with clients and also made many good friends. I also joined a rugby club in Surrey Division 2 through a work mate so I hadn’t completely waved goodbye to my competitive edge! After 18 months or so I again felt like I needed a change.v
A few months previously a good friend from my school days had moved to London and joined a company called First Conferences. During numerous trips to the pub and a series of interrogations his new job sounded incredibly interesting. Research, marketing, copy writing, sales, building websites. It all sounded so varied and crucially for me, he explained that he had ownership of his role. He was responsible for the decisions he made about how best to run his business.
So I applied for a role as a conference organiser in the summer of 2008 and was offered a job in the New Business team. I have to say that at the time, although I had looked at other conference production companies, I hadn’t applied anywhere else. I was convinced that First Conferences was the right place for me. This “all my eggs in one basket” approach was only further confirmed through the interview process. The interviews were a challenge on their own and well thought out so I was delighted when I was offered a job with the New Business sector at First Conferences.
New Business is the team pushing the company forward. We investigate new areas and try to pull the company into growth markets that we haven’t traditionally been involved with. It means we get to lead the way and have a lot of autonomy about which sectors we work in. It could be solar power, retail, online gaming or wind farms. At the moment I am running a series of conferences on how to decommission offshore oil infrastructure. Something I knew nothing about 6 months ago and never would have thought I would look into! Now I am running two conferences in the Gulf of Mexico and South East Asia which will be attended by government bodies, major oil companies and contractors across the globe!
The job is exciting and extremely rewarding. But be warned, dress down doesn’t mean unprofessional and flexible hours doesn’t mean short hours! The job can be demanding, a true balancing act at times, but hugely enjoyable and there is a great sense of achievement when something which is solely yours does well.