The Edinburgh Festivals bring swathes of people to the city, and those people all need places to live. Meet Becki, who steers the Nestival ship, and makes sure they’re all warm and dry.
What is it the company does?
Nestival provides accommodation in Edinburgh for the event organisers, production staff and performers who come to live in the City during the Edinburgh Festivals – Fringe, International and Winter. Our properties are situated in some of Edinburgh’s most desirable locations, but what makes our accommodation service so unique is the standards we adhere to, our clientele and our exceptional in-house support.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
My role at Nestival is to ensure the ship is steered in the right direction and maintain its course and timetables. From initial bookings, pre-arrival preparations, settling our guests in to then providing a present support mechanism during their time in Edinburgh.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I started out my career in the travel and tourism industry as a resort representative in locations such as the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and latterly Jamaica. I moved on from this to become a fashion buyer and merchandiser for a premium European brand, yet another job that involved a lot of travel. My partner, Brian, and I decided it was time for me to settle down in Edinburgh and from their Complete Solutions Letting and eventually Nestival were born.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Stepping back to look at the bigger picture and listening is absolutely a key part of leadership, and also staying calm under pressure. These qualities combined with being able to detach emotions from decision making allow leaders to provide effective solutions without getting pulled into a decision based on what is immediately placed in front of you - taking time to assess the requirements of a decision. In my line of work having the ability to delegate really helps as well – both the work responsibilities and the success.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
By far the people, as they are such a big part of my role and the business. It’s all about managing expectations and providing a personalised service – everyone is different and has differing needs and requirements. This goes for clients, staff and partners. People provide the biggest challenge, but the relationships we build also provide the biggest opportunity.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Being a business owner never switches off… So, the impact of this never truly switches off-I doubt any successful entrepreneur would say they leave everything at the office. You constantly think, feel, feed the business form your mind and body 24-7 365 days of the year, but surrounding myself with great family and friends keeps me calm and they can always get me laughing! As I have gotten older I have learned that the world will not fall apart if I leave the office and really try to discipline my diary to see people and get out from behind my desk. It’s a work in progress and some months it’s a lot easier than other times but I like to think I’m getting better at it-you’d need to ask my friend for her feedback back on that though as I think she’d say I could improve!... Out with the simplicity of taking Flynn, our office dog, for a long walk really helps too to clear the mind and allow me to refocus before I start phoning everyone again.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was never a child that wanted to grow up to be an astronaut or a ballerina, and my mother would say I was very pragmatic. I have always been a driven person, driven to do my best and be the best I could be at that time. We are constantly evolving and learning and I don’t believe and never have that our paths are set, we create our own paths and some come to a natural end, some have turns and some lead us to dead ends but they are paths and you need to keep constantly moving don’t let anything keep you stationary for too long that you have the ability to change. The encountered failures are learning experiences and shouldn’t be allowed to consume you, quite simply its accepting that everyone makes mistakes. However, I am a big believer in making a mistake, reflect, re focus and push on don’t dwell on the past. Seldom will I sit on my hands for long and this was something as a child I was always known for. I was always on the move trying things out and always asking questions.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Messy desks! And unorganised email inboxes. As with many businesses, within Nestival prioritising and organising is so important to get the job done right. Using the analogy of an air traffic control tower I educate the staff in the art of prioritising. What requires immediate attention, what we can stack, what we can place in a hold pattern and what can go on a long haul. This keeps things simple, and relatable for when they need to handle increased workloads at a pressurised time. Everything needs an order and structure from desk, to job to person and when this is working effectively then I have found they can handle the challenges of the job that may arise far better.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
Global festival domination! We are already making ways to being a global festival accommodation provider in five years’ time.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Simple really. Don’t let someone else dull your sparkle! If you’ve got a dream, plan, idea then don’t give it up, take advice and learn from your journey. Listen and speak to lots of people or competitors and make sure you have a focus, target and timetable as this structure will enable you to set daily goals at the start which can then develop into weekly, monthly, bi annual and so on. Speak to everyone you can. Be realistic and know you have to put in the time. It should be your passion, consume you and be your drive-if it’s not then you need to reflect if it’s something you really do want to develop and do.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
That it will be hard! There is no go to manual on success and you will face knockbacks, hard truths, cold mornings and personal challenges. Starting and running a business takes a lot from you and those around you so you need the support, and it requires you to take on numerous roles – from boss, negotiator, supporter, to friend, and challenger. I’m pleased to say though that the 18 hour days and the sleepless nights are counteracted by the biggest highs and the lows only strengthen the determination to reach again to another level. When this passion goes then it will be time for me to release the reins-I’m not there just yet.