Entrepreneur Holly Moore is living proof that if you're good at something and stick to it - you can reach the top. She charts her career from receptionist to events pioneer.
What is it the company does?
We are a hugely experienced events agency in Manchester which has taken the industry by storm since we launched in 2012. With a client list that reads like a who’s who of the North West’s most successful businesses, we have grown rapidly and now employ some of the industry’s most talented people.
From team building events with a difference to prestigious award ceremonies, from Manchester to Madrid, we design and produce events that turn into company legend.
Where we go the extra mile however is by thinking about every step your audience makes; from anticipating your event, arriving at the venue, being wowed by the food stations, getting totally inspired by what they’ve seen and heard, looking at their colleagues in a new way and putting what they’ve learnt into practice the next day.
And then we make every moment count. By adding creative flourishes you haven’t yet imagined, using technology to truly engage and doing it all with superhuman levels of efficiency!
What does your role involve?
I design the vision and strategy which has helped us become the go to agency for events in the North West. I oversee all creative aspects ensuring all event designs are aligned with our standards.
I also focus heavily on customer experience, ensuring that every client or prospect gets the ultimate experience.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I went to an all girls school and didn’t want to go to university, so I enrolled onto a retail management scheme with the Burton Group, as it was then known at the time. If I am honest, I felt the scheme was poorly run. The external training sessions were great but on the job you were a skivvy.
I decided after a year that retail wasn’t for me and decided hospitality was the route for me. I joined a local venue as a receptionist and for nine years worked my way through to duty manager, personnel manager to finally becoming events manager. I then went to work for the employee engagement arm of pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca as an event manager.
I loved the job there but I didn’t have a great experience with one of my managers. I felt like I was being under appreciated and thrown under the bus a little bit. With a very loyal track record, having been at one place nine years and AZ for four years, I decided to leave with nothing lined up.
That was the beauty of having a small salary, as I worked out I could do “bit and bobs” in events and get by. I spent a year freelancing and really enjoyed working for myself. I saw a niche in the local market and thought “yes I can Make Events”. I decided to set up on my own as I had a couple of prospective clients. I jumped on the phones and got out and about and it went from there.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I think a leader is very different to a people manager and I would say I am a far better leader than I am people manager. To lead you need to inspire people to want to be on the journey with you and make them feel like they are helping to create something special. They need to have a clear vision communicated to them and within that they need to know how their future sits. You need to treat people with respect and be the boss that you always wanted.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Getting my head around finances. I have been so focused on profit, that very often I wouldn’t reinvest back into the business and that stifled the growth of the company. I would literally go month to month and be anxious if we didn’t’ make a profit every month, rather than looking at the quarter or the future landscape. That is what has given me sleepless nights. I would be thinking all the time, 'it costs XXX to break even' and I got fixated on it. Thankfully I have amazing accountants at Sedulo and their support has been truly invaluable.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I have a great coach Matt Fowler at Incredible Thinking who I can talk candidly to and he gives me work to do and provides me with honest feedback. I also enjoy going to the gym. I love it and I am just me, no make up, way to chatty with no mention of business. Also, cuddles with my French Bulldog Elvis!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to have a coffee shop like Daphne in Neighbours. I love the idea of making people happy and having a wonderful experience with all the magic touches and gorgeous cakes. Everyone loved Daphne and she was so welcoming to all her guests. I suppose we aren’t far off as one of our brand values is “magic touches” and our strap line is “create the ultimate audience experience.”
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I hate a mood hoover!
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
We will have had another brand reposition and will be including experiential to a greater degree. Incentives and venue finding will have it’s own department. We will have a team and suppliers in each major city. We will have a board and management team. And a treadmill in the office!
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Be prepared to sacrifice family and friends from time to time in order to be successful but I would say you still have to keep time for your health. Get a coach so that you are accountable and have someone to download too as your partner doesn’t want to hear your problems every night.
Have a tribe, make sure you have a group of people that are in a similar situation to you to be inspired and also to inspire. Get great suppliers and partners early on and don’t try to do everything yourself – accountants, insurance, HR etc – you will save money in the long run.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Get experienced people early on.