How I Got Here - Rachel Hepburn

Rachel Hepburn of the Vivid Event Group shares her career journey with Event, including an interesting interview with an international food manufacturer and embracing every opportunity that has come her way, especially those out of her comfort zone.

How I Got Here with Rachel Hepburn of the Vivid Event Group
How I Got Here with Rachel Hepburn of the Vivid Event Group

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

I joined my husband three years ago as joint partner and director. The role is quite varied and encompasses strategy, marketing, HR and finance.

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

I started work when I was 13 years old – a Saturday job washing dishes in a French restaurant called Bambers, in my home town of Bridgnorth. My most significant memory was to learn fast and improve myself so that I could quickly move out of the kitchen and up to the front of house and waitress silver service. My enthusiasm was not stunted when I dropped cauliflower onto the lap of my first client.

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

After finishing school, desperate for independence and a desire to forge my own route in the world, I worked for a year at a major retailer in Birmingham. I soon realised that if I wanted to build a career in management I would probably need some further education, and so returned to university to broaden my theoretical knowledge. Once my business studies course was completed, I headed down the marketing route, taking a variety of roles to gain experience of different industries.

I’ve always been attracted to positions that would teach me something new and have been fortunate enough to have worked for small agencies and multi-national organisations on a variety of disciplines including TV sponsorship, print media, radio, branding, PR and internal communications, both for clients and agency side.

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

I actually had no idea what I would enjoy or be really good at, but thought that a marketing route would suit my personality. Even though I’ve never had a specific plan, I’ve tried to take advantage of every opportunity, even if it’s taken me outside of my comfort zone. This has meant that my career path has been varied and very fulfilling.

Would you do anything differently?

No. I firmly believe that every experience I’ve had in life, good or bad, has taught me something new. Learning from your mistakes is one of the best things you can do and will help shape your every success.

Who has inspired you along the way?

I’m always inspired by those who remain calm under pressure and use their personal resources to think laterally to resolve any challenging situation. When I worked for a Midlands-based marketing agency, my strong female boss was an inspiration to me at a time when I really needed it. I was lacking in confidence and she reassured me that I had a lot to offer and could achieve anything if I wanted it badly enough. That advice has stuck with me ever since.

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

A good friend once told me always be totally prepared in an interview, do your research and ask lots of questions. This advice has been crucial and has always paid off. My worst interview was at an international food manufacturer. I was the last interview of the day at 6pm and it appeared that the interviewer had drunk a glass or two of wine. I ended up interviewing her rather than the other way around. I was in fact offered the job, apparently because of my curiosity and enthusiasm, but needless to say, I rejected it.

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

My dad has been in entertainment and events his whole life and once told me to never burn your bridges with anyone. Life has a funny way of turning around and you never know who you may come across again in the future, be it that first manager you didn’t get on with, or that supplier who was a pain to deal with… they could be your future boss.

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

Work hard (and smart), be enthusiastic, motivated, always aim for self improvement and take up every opportunity that comes your way - whether it’s a fam trip, training course or networking opportunity.

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

That’s easy living in Brighton - when the sun’s out, a swim or kayak in the sea followed by a picnic on the beach with the family, finished off by a beer looking out on the horizon… perfect relaxation.

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

Comment below to let us know what you think. Plus, read exclusive campaign features in the print issue of Event. You can get it by subscribing here.

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