Work hard — and believe in yourself

In our weekly column, My Career, Niamh Hester, Sales and Account Manager at WeddingDates.ie tells us about her job
Work hard — and believe in yourself
Niamh Hester, sales and account manager with WeddingDates.ie

Name: Niamh Hester.

Age: 29.

Lives: Glanmire, Cork.

Job title: Sales and Account Manager at WeddingDates.

Salary bracket: €30-45,000 + commission.

Education background: BSc in Food Marketing and Entrepreneurship from University College Cork.

Hobbies: I have a keen interest in music and dance and since the age of four, have been an active member of the Kiely Walsh Academy of Irish Dance and Cork Irish Dance Company.

I have competed for years at Munster, All-Ireland and World levels, from which I hold numerous titles, as well as participating in various shows throughout the world.

Following my years of Irish dancing, I recently went on to attain my teaching accreditation (TCRG) in Vienna, affording me the opportunity to open my own dance school, which has always been a real ambition of mine.

From all my years of dancing and keeping active, the gym is now a big hobby of mine in order to stay fit after a day in the office.

Most recently, I have also undertaken voluntarily roles on both the Marketing Institute of Ireland Cork Branch and The Network Cork (Social Media Executive) committees. Both of these amazing committees keep me busy after hours but I truly love being apart of them.

Describe your job in five words: Fast- paced, varied, interesting, challenging but motivating.

Describe yourself in five words: Positive, energetic, outgoing, ambitious, driven.

Personality needed for this kind of work? Passionate, outgoing, friendly, patient, hardworking.

How long are you doing this job? 10 months.

How did you get this job? After completing my university degree, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I finished college. I briefly continued my work in Rochestown Park Hotel where I had been working throughout my studies, until an opportunity arose to join the pre-opening team of the Kingsley Hotel in Cork as Events Coordinator, through my networking efforts at the MII Ball in 2014.

As a member of The Kingsley pre-opening team, I set about re-establishing the events department of the hotel as part of The Fota Collection, following a five-year period of closure. My areas of responsibility encompassed client quotations, co-ordination of corporate and private events, liaising with the client and a variety of departments, as well as billing and account settlement. This particular role required high levels of attention to detail, excellent time management and strong teamwork skills which still stands to me to this day.

In the months that followed, I received an opportunity to put my degree into practice by joining the team at Green Saffron, a food company based in Midleton, as Marketing Associate. I quickly learnt that the adrenaline of the service industry was what spurred me and this would be hard to come by in the retail sector. Although learning a multitude here, I just felt hotels was the place for me.

I returned to the hospitality industry as Wedding and Events Coordinator at Fota Island Resort, a sister property to the Kingsley Hotel, a position I achieved through good relationships built in my previous role with the group. Working at a 5-star venue such as Fota Island Resort gave me a great insight into the demands associated with organising each couple’s special day and is where my passion for the wedding industry began.

In an effort to carve a more rounded career in the hospitality sector, I set about moving to a larger group of hotels that would provide me with exposure to different facets of the hotel industry. My move to the Clayton Hotel Cork City (formerly Clarion Hotel) as Meeting and Events Sales Executive was the next step on my career ladder. During my time here, I progressed to the position of Meeting and Events Sales Manager after 18 months. The fast-paced, target-oriented nature of this role brought about my desire to pursue a career in sales, hence my current position at WeddingDates.

Do you need particular qualifications or experience?

I would think a strong sales background would be necessary, as well as experience in the hospitality industry. Having nine years under my belt in the hotel sector, I now find I can quickly relate to the challenges of my clients and how best to solve them.

I believe that people sell to people, so the ability to relate and communicate with your clients is vital. Knowledge of the wedding industry would also be beneficial.

Describe a day at work: Firstly, I start every day with a large cup of coffee. I brew a big pot for the office every morning and it gets me off to a great start. This is the only consistent factor in my day, however, as my job is so varied, and no two working days are the same, with a mix of office work and travel required.

While in the office, I spend my time planning and researching hotels and venues for my next sales trip. I try to get on the road every second week if possible as I operate in such a large remit. This groundwork sets me up for my cold calls and new client appointments for the following week.

Additionally, I account manage all of our venues as well as looking after renewals for our Irish clients, so I dedicate some time to email or call our customers in a specific region on a daily basis. This helps build a rapport with them, which I think is important as an Account Manager.

While on the road, however, my day is very different. I try to get at least four appointments in a day, which is a mix of new and existing clientele. Depending on where my meetings are, I might travel up in that morning, or the night before. This affords me the opportunity to stay and review some beautiful venues around Ireland. With social media a huge part of everyone’s life today, a large part of my role while on the road, is to document these trips on social media such as Instagram, twitter, etc. It allows venues to showcase what they offer to potential wedding clients but in a new light, and couples love it!

My face to face appointments also differ as no two venues are the same. I spend my meetings trying to understand the business needs by listening to the client and then presenting my thoughts on what we can do for them. After every meeting I document the conversation so I can respond effectively based on their requirements. Lastly, of course, be it on the road or in the office, I will always respond to all emails and calls on a day-to-day basis.

How many hours do you work a week? 40-50 hours a week.

What do you wear to work? When I am in the office it is smart casual, however, when I am on the road and meeting clients, I would wear my own take on smart attire by enhancing my suits with colour and patterns. First impression counts for everything, I always say.

Is your industry male or female dominated? A high majority of my clients are female.

Does this affect you in any particular way? No.

Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: My job is rather varied, so I do certainly have days that can be quite stressful.

With my job being target-based, you always have a certain level of stress associated with achieving your monthly targets and this is always on the back of your mind. In saying this, I have learnt to turn this stress into adrenaline which keeps me focused on my next sale. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give my job a 7.

Do you work with others or on your own? Both. My work is divided between my car and the office. When I am on the road, my time is split between client appointments and travelling alone. During my days at WeddingDates HQ, I share an open plan office with my three colleagues from IT, Marketing and Administration, allowing me to convey our client’s requirements with ease. I think laughter is key to a healthy work environment and I am lucky to work with a great bunch of people.

When do you plan to retire or give up working? When I win the lotto!

Best bits: Travelling, opportunity to network, meeting with clients and sampling some of the stunning venues throughout Ireland.

Worst bits: Time away from home, traffic, not achieving my goals.

Advice to those who want your job? Work hard and believe in yourself. You will get there in the end!

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