I had a thought to myself this morning; I work in a building with around 30 people, all with one thing in common, we all work in the events industry, but how did we all get here? What were our journey and our individual stories? Did we choose events or did events choose us?
For me personally, I fell into events as I didn’t study it as a career, neither did I consciously decide to join the industry. I originally wanted to be an actress and won a scholarship to one of London’s most prestigious drama schools but due to unfortunate circumstances, I made the decision not to continue with my studies and found myself working in the world of London department stores.
My background in luxury retail was beauty and I worked as a business manager in the Harrods beauty department managing a team and I loved it but I believe in order to progress, you must look at the people above you in higher positions and ask yourself, do I want their job? Do I want the career life they lead? I decided that I didn’t and at 30 years old I found myself making the brave decision to join a new industry.
I tried recruitment for a while but I realised I wanted a warm sale, a sale that was both personable and creative and I wanted to help people realise a dream. I started helping someone I knew with their events company and before I knew it I was working as a business development manager in the events industry. Events found me and I am glad of this because I love my job. So that’s my story, but how did my colleagues get here?
Karen Lahona a member of my sales team also fell into events. She was working as a photographer at District nightclub in 2012 and as much as she loved her job as a photographer she decided to leave nightclubs in 2015. She took on a role at Novikov as a receptionist and her manager soon saw her potential and gave her sales and marketing responsibilities. Her ex-manager from District had moved on to pastures new and was now working at Madison’s in St Pauls. He heard about how well Karen was doing, contacted her and invited her to work with him on the sales team. She has never looked back.
Karen has been with Gibson Hall for two and a half months and she loves the versatility of our industry where she can be helping a client decide to book Gibson Hall the perfect London wedding venue one minute and the next helping to prepare a client for an important conference or annual general meeting. She loves getting to know her clients and being supportive of them.
Jonathan Chohan, who joined Gibson Hall not long before me, has an interesting story. He was a 19 years old musician getting by as a guitar teacher with 6 students. He decided he needed something a little more stable and in the summer of 1999 visited the job centre. He walked around and looked at the boards but nothing inspired him and disheartened decided to walk out but as he was about to leave a board titled misalliance caught his eye. He saw a job advert looking for somebody to come on board and join the sales team for Hotels London Limited. He applied and got the job mainly because of his passion for his city and the fact that he could really sell London venues. There he met Harrison Brown who was not only his director but was to become his mentor for the next 10 years. Harrison’s passion became Jonathan’s passion and he has now developed a great career in business development and account management and still to this day gets a kick out of what he does for a living.
Katy Stephens from our sister company Seasoned Events and Hannah Wright from our Venue Reservations team went down a different route to Karen, Jonathan and myself because they chose a career in events and went to college to study the industry.
Katy had initial aspirations to go to university to continue her academic studies. Following the sudden loss of her father, things did not work out to plan as she did not get the results she needed in her examinations at the end of her first year in the sixth form and had to make a decision on what she was going to do with her life. A friend of hers was at her local College, studying a BTEC National Diploma in hotel management, catering and operations and Katy decided to give it a go too and so her journey into hospitality began. After all, whilst there are people travelling into the country, they will always need somewhere to stay and something to eat; she’d never been out of a job!!
After training for two years and working through the various hotel departments, she wanted to focus on the glamorous Front of House. When employed with Millennium and Copthorne, an opening came up on the Meeting and Events team and the rest, as they say, is history.
Having now worked in central London for over 20 years, her journey has taken her from an independently owned Hotel chain via a Private Members Club for the serving and retired armed forces, an International Corporate hotel chain and on to prestigious Catering companies. From the challenges of arranging events and logistics in London’s largest Conference and Event venue to the joy of being able to sell delicious and stunning food in some of London’s most iconic venues, it’s certainly been an interesting ride and one that she feels privileged to be on.
Hannah was attending concerts from a young age and had a love for sports and music events. From Spice Girls, Westlife, Britney Spears concerts to Wimbledon matches she became fascinated with how these events were managed and wanted to know how things were run backstage and who was in charge.
She went to university to study Event Management with Tourism Marketing and spent four years getting to know not just how to plan events the “fun way” and operationally but the Health and Safety, Risk Management, Crowd Control and staffing of an event. Hannah took particular interest in how large-scale events impact a city. She took the Commonwealth Games in Manchester as an example and the way it impacted the city was huge, thousands of jobs were created and money brought to the city. After university Hannah worked at world-famous events such as The Ryder Cup, Glastonbury, Debenhams Fashion Shows and Golf Shows throughout the UK. She took wine tasting classes and was always excited to help create that “wow” factor for her clients.
Theming plays a huge part in this; where finding the right props, entertainment, décor and furniture help create that long lasting memory for all attendees and Hannah feels that she has a true passion for providing a five-star service.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog. The one thing that stands out to me from all four stories is not only the fact that we are all passionately creative people but also that we all love what we do. What could be better than that?
By Melissa Goldberg
Business Development Manager