How I Got Here - Joanne Hunter

Joanne Hunter is the general manager for Chelsea Football Club's music venue Under The Bridge and has been in the role for more than three years. She tells Event about her dreams of becoming an architect or interior designer, her admiration for creative women in the industry, and being a sports fanatic.

Under The Bridge general manager Joanne Hunter
Under The Bridge general manager Joanne Hunter

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

I am general manager of music venue Under The Bridge, which is literally under Stamford Bridge at Chelsea Football Club on the Fulham Road. It’s a great venue with integrated technology, audio, light and sound that’s best in class for hosting private gigs and corporate events. We have hosted Beyoncé and Bruno Mars, and a range of private celebrations and corporate conferences for drinks and entertainment businesses, as well as media brands which are looking for something a little different but that fits their profile. 

I have been at Under The Bridge in my current role for over three years now, having overseen the pre-opening phase and launch back in March 2011. I manage a team of five full-time staff and in my role also manage operations, sales and marketing so it’s very varied and diverse with no two days the same.

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

After graduating from university, I worked in the events department at Middlesbrough Football Club, which initiated my passion for the creative events industry and organising large-scale parties and events in big venues. The most valuable lesson I learned is that as an events professional you absolutely have to be organised and second guess every scenario so solutions can be found quickly if need be.

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

From Middlesbrough I came to Chelsea Football Club and worked as events manager, which involved taking the team off-site to events I’d organise at small venues such as The Royal Hospital Chelsea, as well as large-scale events at Battersea Evolution. That role led me to Under The Bridge where I now promote and manage the venue for all manner of events, private gigs and anything from bar mitzvahs to corporate conferences with a twist.

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

When I was younger I wanted to be an architect or interior designer, but I always knew that a career in hospitality would suit me. I love to travel and I love parties – attending them, organising them, planning for them and enjoying that social scene so events is a perfect industry for me. I also studied psychology at university, which has been really helpful in my role as a manager where I need to understand people and how to motivate them. 

Would you do anything differently?

I am very fortunate in that I manage to enjoy travelling to far flung places when I can on holiday, but looking back perhaps I would have spent some time working abroad in a country where the culture is totally different. That can only have been a rich experience and one that I would have relished in my late twenties, but even now it’s never too late. Who knows.

Who has inspired you along the way?

I have always been extremely self-motivated and have been privileged to have managed my own time as an events leader and now general manager. However, I have always been inspired by creative women in the events industry and those with strong personalities who compete at a high level. Ladies who have carved a successful career from scratch and who have managed to achieve great things whilst helping to raise a family always stand out.

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

Never assume.

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

Explore lots of different opportunities and be open to change, but take time to think about your career, not in terms of what you want now, but where that might take you in ten years.

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

I am a sports fanatic and a keen runner so love nothing better than to run off any excess energy after an action-packed day. By contrast I also love to relax and enjoy yoga to fully unwind. A glass of pink Champagne is a welcome wind down treat too.

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

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