From college to Riches with alumnus student Mark | Westminster Kingsway College

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From college to Riches with alumnus student Mark

Wednesday 23 January 2019

 

What does success look like to you?  What do you want to do with your life?

If the 70 young people who gathered at Westminster Kingsway college’s Victoria campus today to hear from events company Chief Executive Mark Riches, were expecting a standard presentation about the events industry, they were in for a surprise.

Instead, London-born Mark, a former culinary student of the college, and his colleague Paul Stephenson gave the roomful of Business, Travel & Tourism and Hospitality students the inside track on how to break into the glamorous but demanding events industry.

Mark knows what he’s talking about. After studying the 3-year Professional Chef’s Diploma course, he had various jobs in the culinary and hospitality industry, then set-up First Agency which has grown into one of the world’s leading events companies. First Agency plan, design and deliver high-profile corporate events and product launches around the world and their clients include Oath (the owners of Yahoo and Huffington Post), Mercedes Benz, AOL, Mastercard, LG and Prudential. They have managed events in dozens of cities around the globe, including London, Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Barcelona and Paris.

Event management companies project manage a range of things including festivals, weddings, corporate events, corporate launches and brand launches. Although First Agency specialise in events and event marketing, as well as strategy and the design and execution of complex events – often in many countries at the same time – the events industry needs skills across a wide range of disciplines including strategy, design, logistics, catering, communications, marketing, finance and HR.  Mark drew on his vast experience to give the students his top tips for getting into the hospitality and events industries:

  1. Study a relevant subject at college or university – the knowledge that you gain can give you the edge when applying for jobs;
  2. Get relevant work experience – it’s great for your CV and trying different roles (such as include catering, admin, events, even marketing) will help you decide which discipline you want to specialise in;
  3. Show that you have a personality. Don’t be shy! Make connections with people and be outgoing, friendly and memorable. This will get you far!
  4. Have drive and determination. A lot of people want to work in the industry, so you will be in competition with others for any job. If you don’t want it, you won’t get it.

The students found the presentation really interesting and, after a lengthy question and answer session, Mark and Paul took the time to chat to individual students about their aspirations and pose for photos.

Mark said: “What a great morning! It was brilliant to be invited back to my old college and meet so many enthusiastic students. As I said to them today, you can do whatever you want in the industry. I hope they got as much from the session as I did and that I’ve inspired them to make a real success of their careers, whatever they do.”

Mark left with a promise to work more with the college, including helping the students prepare for their working lives by providing a realistic event brief (the sort that First Agency would get from one of their clients) for them to work on.

WestKing Travel and Tourism Programme Manager Lorraine Hewett said: “It was lovely to meet Mark and I am so glad that the students had the opportunity to hear – and learn – from such an experienced and knowledgeable business leader. Mark was a real inspiration and the students really enjoyed it too.

“The college’s Travel & Tourism faculty is an ABTA partner and we run a lot of events like Mark and Paul’s session today, to help our students understand the opportunities that are out there for them and to improve their confidence and knowledge.”

Find out more about our Travel and Tourism courses here: 

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