What made you choose to study your course?
I was born and raised on the Fylde Coast where tourism featured very strongly in the local economy. I always worked in the local tourism business part-time and discovered my passion for the industry. It was a natural step to study the industry in further education.
What did you do after graduation?
I went straight into full-time work post study. I secured a job with Devere Hotels as Guest Services Manager at their Blackpool property. This role was a combination of Guests Management but sales also, which was something I enjoyed and discovered my natural ability and relationship management in this professional sector. It spurred me to further delve into the industry and I interviewed and secured a role with BT as an Area Sales Representative, which also saw me graduate from ‘BT University’. This was a very challenging course that armed me with a strong insight and skillset for a challenging sales role.
This role was great for development but I did miss the industry. A job role was offered combining the two and then saw me step into a different chapter of my career. In hindsight, this was my first opportunity to grow in a field that I am very well suited. I moved to a catering company as Sales and Marketing Manager at venues, I was involved with the Rowley’s at Blackpool Football redevelopment. An opportunity with a different company was then offered, The Villa Group as Marketing and Business Development Manager, which I jumped at.
This was company takeovers, rebrand projects and repositioning venues into the industry, it was fast paced and demanding. My experience and personal development was flying. An opportunity presented itself to move to Merlin Entertainments Ltd in Blackpool, one of the leading providers to the local industry and UK Attractions Provider, with a huge corporate company backing. This is where I currently work as Business Development Manager for the Blackpool Cluster of attractions.
Never would I have imagined growing up that I would be working for such iconic attractions in the role I am. Every day is challenging but fun and I am lucky to say I love my job!
Job title, company name and brief description about your duties:-
Business Development Manager, Merlin Entertainments Ltd, Blackpool Cluster of Attractions (The Blackpool Tower, SeaLife Centre, and Madame Tussauds are in my venue portfolio).
I am tasked with positioning and selling our incredible and iconic venues to private clients out of general trading. This may be to private celebration events, filming and television, live music events, VIP venue takeovers, weddings, awards and corporate events.
Please tell us about the journey that brought you to this position - including any previous work or relevant life experience:-
I always worked in the industry, from kids clubs (even dressing as a 6ft Bear ‘Ivo’) to bar, restaurant and events waiting on service and some promotions work. I enjoyed the work and felt it gave me a good grounding from a young age of the importance of working and development.
During my time at university, I experienced a ‘placement year’- which I would recommend to everyone. Experience really is key upon graduation. I lived in Austria and France, it gave some personal, and working challenges, I was proud of my achievements and work ethic on return.
What are your lasting memories of your time at UCLan?
During my time with UCLan I was fortunate enough to go to Cambodia on voluntary work to the Green Gecko School. This was the most emotional and inspiring two weeks; the children’s strength and positivity was astounding, as cliché as it sounds this was a life-changing experience.
I have a great gratitude to the tutors at UCLan; they provided a respectful adult learning environment and were very supportive and motivational. The University allowed me to tailor my degree, presenting modules that I knew I wanted to learn more about and eventually focus my career on to.
I really enjoyed the industry leaders that came into speak with us, this gave me the motivation and dedication to push myself, and the realisation that I would one day be in a successful leading role. At UCLan I realised how much of a career I wanted and the tutors supported my drive, I valued their advice and still keep in touch with them.
What is your greatest achievement since graduation?
I interviewed for my first two roles since university (Devere and BT), since then I have been headhunted for each of my career moves and promotions. I graduated six years ago and it has been a total whirlwind of hard work since, but I am now working for an amazing company in a role I love. Hard work really does pay off!
What advice would you give to graduates wanting to do something similar, or what message would you like to give to those thinking of taking up study?
Get as much experience to back up your degree as possible!
Be prepared to work hard and make the most of every opportunity.
Be focused and tailor your education and experience - have a plan and have the belief you can achieve it!
Has your degree, or your experiences at UCLan had any particular impact on your current employment or your life in general?
My degree absolutely gave me the upper hand alongside my experience over other candidates for job roles. The theory side of the industry is vital to have and I believe will have had an impact on the fast track of my career.
I realised at University what motivated me in life and the success I was hungry for in the first decade of my professional career. UCLan was an incredible start for this, I honestly believe you get out what you put in. You have to do it for yourself but with the support of professional and experienced tutors and a university with a great reputation, the world is your oyster!