What do you do and how long have you been in your current role?
I am director of sales at Universal City Conferences, the only venue finding company available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our purpose is to find the best suitable venue on the market for our clients. There is nothing worse than having to organise a last-minute event and wait for your venue finder to open at 9am next day to discuss it. I joined the company in December 2013, and I have been part of lots of different hotels chains and venues since I was 19 years old.
Where was your first job? What was the most important thing you learnt there?
I was born in Slovakia and my dad used to own a few companies. I was answering their business lines and pretended to be my dad’s PA. When I was 19 I moved to the UK to study business and tourism. I successfully graduated at the University of Westminster and I was full-time student and full-time employee throughout my studies. My first official job in the UK was as a guest relations agent at Express by Holiday Inn in Luton. The most important thing I learnt at that time was how to value the money I earned and how to manage my time; be on time at work and the university lectures.
How did you get from there to where you are now?
I worked for a few Hilton hotels, as well as The Grand hotel in Brighton, Oval cricket ground and The Mermaid conference centre. I started as a sales researcher, then I moved into a role where I was running events and exhibitions for more than 1,500 delegates and looked after the hospitality of English and Surrey cricketers. I enjoyed every aspect of the event industry but my heart is with proactive sales. I guess I am where I am now because of my nature. I am very open and a people person, and was told I can sell sand to Arabic deserts. I believe in myself and once I focus on something I really want to achieve I work hard until I am satisfied.
Looking back, did you expect your career path to take the course it has?
Not at all. I wanted to travel the world and settle down in New Zealand (my dream country). However, once when I was at the cricket ground and looked around during a Twenty20 match, I realised this is it. I love being in charge of massive events, felt very proud of myself and adored the fact that everything was running smoothly. Since then, my passion is to deliver the best experience when organising the events for my clients. To receive great feedback from them afterwards means more than anything.
Would you do anything differently?
I keep thinking what would be if... but I also believe in everything happening for a reason, so no I would not change a thing.
Who has inspired you along the way?
My dad. He ran a few companies and was in politics, he also sponsored an ice hockey team I used to play for when I was younger. He has never complained and achieved more than I think I ever will. In the events industry it would definitely be Jacqui Kavanagh from Trinity Conferences, as I used to visit their offices and saw how successful her business became. She doesn’t know this but I respect her the most when it comes to events organisation skills. I had the pleasure to work with her when I ran a conference for her client when I was with The Grand hotel.
Is there a piece of career advice you’ve ever been told that has stuck with you?
Penetration of the market and your own accounts is a key.
Have you ever had a job interview that went particularly well or spectacularly wrong?
I was looking for a job in London and was asked to come for an interview with the recruitment company as they had a few roles in hotels and various venues. The interview went so well the recruitment company offered me a position to work for them. It lasted two weeks - I am definitely an events sales person.
What career advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
Do not give up, you will achieve your goal.
How do you wind down and relax after a hectic day?
As mentioned, I used to play ice hockey but there are not many ice skating rinks around to pursue my hobby. Therefore, I run a lot at the gym as that helps to release the pressure and lifting weights help me to focus on strength throughout my body. I also love to catch up on good old Eastenders and have a glass of wine with my girl friends.
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