How I Got Here: Alex Campbell

Alex Campbell is sales and marketing director for event caterer Dish and joined the company in September 2011. She tells Event about working for royalty, being in the perfect job for her personality, and the good work ethics she learnt from her mum.

Alex Campbell, sales and marketing manager at caterer Dish
Alex Campbell, sales and marketing manager at caterer Dish

What do you do and how long have you been in your current role? 

I am the sales and marketing director for event caterer Food by Dish. My role is to generate new business leads, nurture key clients, actively sell events, tender for new contracts and venue listings and market the company. We cater in over 25 venues in London and are sole caterer at No. 4 Hamilton Place, 110 Rochester Row and HMS President. We have also just been awarded the contract at Thames Luxury Charters to cater on board their vessels.

I recently launched a new venue finding service called Venues by Dish and at present I am trying to raise awareness of this new service and drive enquiries into our venues to reciprocate business. I joined the company in September 2011 as sales and marketing manager and last February I was promoted to a newly created position of sales and marketing director.

Where was your first job? What was the most important thing you learnt there?

After leaving university at the age of 21 I started working as an intern for Party Planners, an event company owned and run by the Queen's cousin Lady Elizabeth Anson. Three things I learnt very quickly were to keep a paper trail of everything, the importance of time management and to carry flat shoes.

How did you get from there to where you are now?

I worked for Party Planners for three months on an unpaid internship after Googling the term 'party planner'. From there I went on to work for Novis Leisure where I had proactive selling drummed into me, something which has proved invaluable in my current role. I worked for a year at Peyton Events alongside celebrity food critic Oliver Peyton in some wonderful venues such as the National Gallery, Kew Gardens and the Wallace Collection. Peyton gave me an insight into the catering industry and that is how I found my current role at Dish. 

Looking back, did you expect your career path to take the course it has?

I knew from the minute I started planning my 18th birthday party that I had to work in events. I was well aware that I couldn’t afford to put on my own parties each week so I decided from then on that I should plan other peoples. Anyone that knows me well knows that I have the perfect job for my personality and I pride myself on being able to say that I love my job. 

Would you do anything differently?

I would have said no to the Jaegerbomb toast for 400 guests at a wedding a few years ago. In all seriousness, there have been some bumps along the way but you quickly learn from your mistakes.

Who has inspired you along the way?

My mum was a huge feminist in her heyday and found herself in the police force, running her own company and now a housemistress at a boarding school. I have always looked to her for inspiration despite being in different industries - she has inspired me to work hard, to have self-confidence and be the best you can be. She bought my first ever business suit for me and always told me that if in doubt put your power dress on and smile. 

Have you ever had a job interview that went particularly well or spectacularly wrong?

My current boss, Nick James, managing director, interviewed me initially back in 2011. He asked me a horrible question: "If I asked your best friend what your worst trait was what would he/she say?" I had a complete mind blank and mumbled some awful answer. Thankfully he didn’t mark me down on it.

Is there a piece of career advice you've ever been told that has stuck with you?

Funnily enough as soon as I left the interview with Nick I asked my best friend for the answer, in which they said: "You try to please everyone which is impossible." A good bit of advice which I have learnt is 100% true especially in catering as food is such a personal thing. I was also told on the first day of my internship to never assume anything.

What career advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?

Work hard, don’t begrudge long hours, always look presentable and don’t be afraid to say no. 

How do you wind down and relax after a hectic day?

Working in catering I force myself to go to the gym but I also play hockey which is a good way to get rid of any stress. Other than that you can probably find me in a nice bar with a gin and tonic in hand.

Want to share your career story with us as part of the Women in Events campaignEmail news editor Samantha Edwards to feature in a future How I Got Here.

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