Alice is one of our co-creatorsfrom the 2013/14 Star Track Programme. She is now working for Virgin StartUp and we caught up with her to chat about her experiences.
Can you tell us a little bit about your current role?
I work at Virgin StartUp which is a not-for-profit arm of the Virgin group that helps really cool entrepreneurs get funding and mentoring in the first year of starting up their business. My role is Projects and Events Assistant—so I organise workshops, business shows, presentations and big competitions amongst many other things. I also get to be part of some pretty amazing things too like organising a huge event and being the point of contact for 200 attendees including the brilliant blogger Dina Toki-o, Choccywoccydoodah and of course Richard Branson, and working in an environment with some insanely talented people.
Did your studies prepare you in any way for this role?
Perhaps it wouldn’t be an obvious link but my history degree is really useful to my role. When I am researching venues, prices and logistics, writing comms or writing persuasive emails—being a good historian is applicable at every part of what I do.
What is the most exciting aspect of your work?
Everyday is a different challenge. Sometimes I’ll be working with entrepreneurs one on one, some days I’ll be presenting at shows. Other times I’ll be hanging out at Richard Branson’s house, as you do. Although there is a lot of planning/emailing/phone calls to be made and you’re never free of work, it means you can’t get bored. Also I get to meet some really inventive people who are boosting the economy and starting some wonderful businesses, it’s so exciting and rewarding when someone’s dream gets of the ground. Obviously it’s incredibly strenuous when you have to try new entrepreneur’s products like sweets and cakes, that all takes it toll…
What motivates you and brings out the best in you at work?
The team I work with are amazing—never have I been around such dedicated people, I don’t know when they find the time to sleep or to do anything out of work. There is something indescribable about working at Virgin—it’s a special atmosphere. No one wants anyone to not be a success, there is no rivalry or competition it’s just everyone helping each other.
What are your strategies for balancing the demands of work with those of your personal life?
Make the most of every opportunity—barbeques, trips to the beach, weekends in Europe, you name it I’ve done it because you need to enjoy your own time. Saying that, you should enjoy what you’re doing at work too—I’ll often stay later or eat at my desk to get things done because I really want to get on with my work. It’s not just about working hard but enjoying your time to yourself too, both can be as worthwhile. There is no point working yourself into the ground and having no one to share your hard work with friends and family are just as important.
What have you experienced and learned about working with others?
I have experienced working in some pretty stressful situations—in my first week I was left on my own to present a stand at an event attended by 15,000 people looking for business advice. It was like being pushed into the deep end but guess what? I coped! Fortunately for me everyone at Virgin StartUp is so generous and helpful that working at Virgin is a pleasure. The best thing to do when your working with new people is if you don’t understand then just say you don’t, make lots of notes and be confident. It’s okay to be a little nervous, especially working in events things can always go wrong but you have to leave the self doubt for when you really need it. Such as when you think it’s a good idea to wear white to a wedding or when you’re thinking of buying a pair of UGG boots.
What does flourishing mean to you?
Flourishing to me means getting better, improving who you are and becoming stronger and confident. If you are engaged and supported your self belief grows and you flourish.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
Wow 10 years seems like a long way away. I love working within events, it’s fast paced and there is always a positive momentum to move onto the next project. I’d like to be involved with music events, organising the comms and guest lists/acts for a festival would be my ideal job. I’m really interested in challenging myself to experience everything life has to offer and helping as many people as I can. At the moment I’m not thinking that far ahead as I’m finding working with entrepreneurs really fulfilling.