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They call me Pet Rat. Well, my friends do. I dread to think what my nickname is to my team.
My first break was when I was still at Uni and started working for the Tussauds Group. I stayed for four years and have no doubt that the experience, skills and relationships built there set me up for the future.
I’ve been at Somerset House for four years, though I started this role in May 2008.
Best advice I’ve received is that assumption is the mother of all f*ck ups! My boss at Tussauds, Michael Aldridge, gave me that one.
Best advice I’d give is to learn from and respect everyone you meet in the industry (even if you don’t necessarily like them), as you never know when you’ll meet again. They may well be your employee, boss or client the next time you see them.
My events hero is my deputy, Emma Barrow. She took on my role for six months to allow me to take a career break from Somerset House and travel the globe. You can’t ask for much more than that.
I learned the hard way that planning for the worst-case scenario is everything in this game. In my first winter here we built and managed a gorgeous glass marquee for Christmas parties. The temperature plummeted within the first week and the heating system just couldn’t compete with the below-zero temperatures.
I get inspired and amazed by the variety of events taking place across London and the UK, particularly in unique venues. The way a museum, visitor attraction or gallery with thousands of public visitors in the daytime transforms into an exclusive event venue at night (often within an hour from public closing time) is astounding.
I get annoyed by ‘half-job charlies’ – if you’re going to do something, do it properly or don’t do it at all.
The best event I’ve organised was a reception, dinner and dance for 450 people in a bespoke glass marquee in the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court in my first few months on the job. It wasn’t the largest ever in terms of attendees, but came with a £250,000 budget! It was for an oil and petroleum company in the days when money was no object for some events.
If I could organise one event, it would be the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony – how amazing to be part of the greatest show on earth1 It’s a chance to showcase London, the UK and our event expertise to the world.
I’m ‘most likely to’ be found talking to colleagues with a cup of tea in hand at work. While at home, talking to my friends and family with a glass of wine (or Champagne). I like a good natter, as people who know me will testify.
My motto is nil desperandum [never despair]. Nearly all of the time there’s a solution to a problem, whether through use of people, money or time.
Strand, WC2R 1LA
tel: 0844 811 2534, squaremeal.co.uk/somerset
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events, summer 2011