Last month I talked about going to your first interview when fighting to get your first job and offered some tips to aid the success of the interview process. My first proper job was in Cape Town which is where I headed after University and I worked for a terrifying woman who owned a small PR company. She was dramatic to say the least but taught me a so much, and most importantly gave me the opportunity to take responsibility in my role. As a result of this I went from her assistant to Account Director within 2 years and ran my own accounts building PR strategies. She clearly saw something in me, and gave me that chance to shine. She also taught me how NOT to treat your staff (as she was erratic to say the least) but she showed me that rewards can be very significant if you take the leap to set up your own business.
People often ask me how I dealt with the fear of diving into the unknown when I chose to start my own business, but for me fear never came into it, because failure was never an option financially, practically and emotionally. In fact, when I entered into the arena starting a business in event management, I had never worked for an event management company, I had to learn on my feet, and my knowledge to date has literally come from behaving like a sponge.
This blog is about my journey to where I am now, and it is far from conventional. After 2 years I left the PR agency as I felt that I should learn something new and so ended up working for a wonderful Editor of Conde Nast House and Garden for 6 months. My written articles were ripped to pieces and I was given plenty of fierce criticism for my writing ability. The fear of the hideous red pen that scrawled uncontrollably through my efforts, left me utterly bemused. But, there’s always a silver lining and it meant my grammar and spelling improved immeasurably. (I’m a nightmare to my staff now as I can’t bear bad spelling and terrible grammar especially with spell check being the forgiver of all evils!)
After living this completely idyllic life in Cape Town where the quality of life really is spectacular, I decided to come home. It was time to make money in a sensible currency, but the hardest thing I found was that my experience in South Africa meant nothing to the job market in London. Even though I had run big accounts in South Africa, it meant nothing to the PR agencies that I went to interview at in London, as my contact base on journalists was limited in London and the general attitude was at the age of 24 I should be paid the rule book salary irrespective of my experience. I was infuriated that I wasn’t in control of my financial destiny and someone else on a power trip could dictate how much I earnt! This is one of the reasons why at Pure Events we have commission structures and overtime in place for every member of the team so that they can control how much money they make on a monthly basis, inflating their salaries significantly. (This is much to the dismay of some of my senior management board who think I am far too generous…..don’t worry team, I’m still fighting your corner!)
I suppose that my main piece of advice in this blog is that in any career no matter what sector you choose to be in, there is always a nightmare boss or line manager but it is working out how to be strategic to enable your progression and growth alongside your financial rewards. If you put a plan in place with your line manager to set goals for your progression, then you have a clear ability to be able to track this and prove that you should be able to move to the next level. There is nothing worse than feeling that you are stuck in a rut in the same position you have been in for a few years. Ask for more training and increased progression reviews, it will set you in good stead. Your boss/line manager also has a responsibility to you to help you achieve your goals. (Bosses out there….don’t shoot me for putting you on the spot!)
I’ll talk about the MASSIVE step that I took to branch out on my own in my next blog, but in the meantime, if anyone wants to approach me to discuss the topics I’m advising on in this blog, I’ll happily help you.