How I Got Here - Katy Olpin

Katy Olpin, sales and events manager at Evolve Events, has been working at the company for six months, joining from beauty brand Soap and Glory. She talked to Event about why she thinks university placements are important, her hunger for climbing the career ladder and why Marcia Kilgore, founder of Soap and Glory, FitFlop and Bliss Spa, is her inspiration.

Evolve Events' Katy Olpin shares her career story
Evolve Events' Katy Olpin shares her career story

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

I am the sales and events manager at Evolve Events and have been here for nearly six months. My role includes overseeing and managing all enquiries, both bespoke and for Kent House Knightsbridge. We have managed the venue for ten years and completed a refurbishment before our agency dinner back in February. I actively seek new business opportunities and work closely with the marketing director on all social platforms.

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

My first job was with Soap and Glory where I worked in-house as part of the PR and marketing team. It was a fabulous and dynamic team and my role was very hands on and varied. I managed to learn how a business works, POS marketing, developing business relationships and what was involved when organising PR activity, including product launches or press days.

I worked with many high-profile bloggers and journalists across a range of publications and became the event manager of the brand's Christmas event at the Soho Hotel.

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

During my time at Soap and Glory I was given the opportunity to become a hospitality hostess for the Formula 1 team, McLaren. I was able to travel to many European countries to look after the race team, drivers and their families and all potential prospects and partners. I managed tables and private dinners as well as looking after everyone and building up a great relationship.

This inspired me to go into events to give maximum customer service and deliver a fabulous event. From McLaren and Soap and Glory I have embraced my role at Evolve Events and really enjoy my job. It’s brilliant to be able to work both agency side and venue side – together. It's a brilliant all-round experience.

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

I always knew I would be working with people. My background from an early age has been performing arts so I have an eye for the glitz and glam, performances and events. I have been very fortunate with the opportunities I have been given so far to date. I have experienced some unforgettable moments with very special and talented people who have taught me a lot.

I have a hunger to drive forward and when I want to do something, I like to think I can. Nothing is impossible. Working for Evolve Events has been a dream come true, I love the events industry and see myself working within it for many years to come. I am determined to get to where I want to be but I know it will take hard work, determination and many more experiences.

Would you do anything differently?

I think a placement at university is important. I believe work experience has become an important factor when applying for jobs. I didn’t do a placement and had very little experience during university – I was able to pick up many small internships afterwards but it delayed me getting a job in London. My advice would be to get internships or a small beneficial job during your holidays if you haven’t chosen to do a placement year, that way you’ll be ahead of the game.

Who has inspired you along the way?

I have met and worked with many inspirational people already and I am only at the beginning of my career. I always try and live up to the saying ‘Live with no regrets’. Marcia Kilgore who is the founder of Soap and Glory, FitFlop and Bliss Spa inspired me with her work ethic and risk taking – to be successful you have to take risks! My wonderful father has always been my rock with great advice and tips to keep me in the right direction. And finally I have already learnt a lot from Gary Peters with his huge industry knowledge and experience. He has been the best mentor so far and I know I have a lot more to give and will grow with the company. 

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

Every job interview is different – it’s very hard to gauge whether it will be formal or informal. The most important part is the meet and greet – you’ve got to engage and be likable! I once had to do an interview which included a presentation to the three MDs of the company – I knew nothing and was very young! With the help of my performance skills I managed to bluff them, however I’m not surprised I didn’t get the job. On the flip side, the ratio of successful interviews to unsuccessful interviews shows I must be doing something right – by probably making them laugh and making it more personable - people buy people after all!

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

‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!’ – network, network, network. My father always says ‘business is all about relationships’ which has stuck with me throughout my life. You never know what the next person you meet will bring you or what contacts they might have.

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

Don’t follow the crowd – be different! 21 years old was not long ago however I definitely stuck to my guns and lived life to the full. These are the crucial years to build on your skills, personality and contacts – go for it!

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

Chill out with my friends over a few bottles of wine. Go back home to my parents’ house in the country to breathe in some fresh air and go on long walks. Head to the gym to burn off any stress, frustration or worries. Put my PJs on and tuck into some chocolate in front of the TV.

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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