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Taking the apprentice route

Richard John updates us on the industry apprenticeship programme launched last year:

The Event Assistant Apprenticeship Programme was launched in 2017 and the first cadre of recruits graduate this year. 

A major player in the sector is training specialist Realise, with 40 apprentices now working with agencies, clients and venues across England. 

CEO David Preston explains: “The programme is a fantastic alternative to university, as the apprentices are earning while they learn, and getting practical experience which dovetails with the learning they undertake.” He adds: “It’s a very practical training programme, and we get huge support from venues such as Glazier’s Hall (in London) which has hosted our workshops and provided onsite tours for the apprentices.”

Worcestershire-based drp group was the first agency to sign up to the programme and head of PR and marketing at the agency, Ryan Curtis-Johnson, says the company recruits for enthusiasm and potential. “If they’re coming with no experience, you have the chance to really embed your own business culture and values, as well as growing them within your business, allowing them scope to excel and deliver great results. Within three months of taking our first apprentice, drp had taken on a second.”

It’s a view shared by the First agency. Harriet Bullen, the group’s HR and recruitment adviser, says: “We’re thrilled with our current apprentice. Anna Mason brings enthusiasm, a fresh perspective and support to the team and the industry as a whole. Our agency placement strategy also provides them with an opportunity to gain hands-on experience and work with industry leaders.”

Andy Moss, MD of Cube Management, agrees: ”As a way to encourage new talent into our company, we took on an event apprentice. His progress and value to us is such that we are now recruiting a second. We hire on attitude – everything else we can teach.”

Rising through the ranks

CN meets two young rising stars at Loughborough University’s event arm, Imago Venues

Q: Why did you first join Imago Venues?

Hayley Hardy: I joined as a waitress in 2005 as I wanted to get into hotels. It was a way to get my foot in the door and I have since worked in a number of operational areas. For two years I took time out to try something different and worked in a recruitment agency, but came back in 2010,  joining the reservations team and have since just kept progressing.

Alun Pomfrett: I came to Burleigh Court initially at the tender age of 14 as part of a work experience scheme. A year later, I applied for a casual bar and waitering position and have since been able to advance within the Imago Venues family.

Q: What has inspired you to stay with Imago Venues and progress there?

HH: It has always felt like a special place due to its unique portfolio of venues. There is a sense of pride across the business. I’m a great believer in the fact that you get out what you put in. However, I also I think I have been very fortunate to have the opportunities that have allowed me to progress.

AP: A culture of continual development has always been prevalent. It’s a place that makes you want to keep achieving and challenging yourself. It is a company where anyone with imagination, work ethic and passion can get to the top.

Q: What has been the most challenging moment?

HH: I feel I have learnt a lot over the last year about my leadership style and how to manage a pressured sales team. Nonetheless, I have really enjoyed our internal training on leadership and I find myself using what I have learnt in my role with my team.

AP: There are constant challenges, no differenet to any other job, but none are insurmountable and no two are ever the same. 

Q: What has been the most exciting work you have done?

HH: There are always new things to get stuck into. The most exciting thing at the moment is being involved with the new Elite Athlete Centre and Hotel, which will cement our position as a world leading sporting centre of excellence, and give us a real USP in a crowded market.

AP: My personal highlight is working with the Olympics in 2012 at an official preparation camp for the games. It was such a unique opportunity and I feel very lucky to have had it.

Q: What do you like most about Imago Venues?

HH: I enjoy being out there as an independent brand within the academic venues sector, competing with the big boys. There is still uncertainty from some buyers about the quality of academic venues, so I always love changing perceptions and seeing them realise the high standards that we offer.

AP: The company is growing quickly, but I love the fact we can all still influence its direction. It’s pretty special that we see everyone getting a voice and each idea is considered on merit alone.

Q: What are you most looking forward to in your new role at Imago Venues?

HH: I’ve been a little more office bound over the last 12 months, so I am looking forward going back out on the road and working closer with our clients.

AP: At the moment I’m most excited to be unveiling our new Spring/Summer menus.