Liz Young, head of events at Historic Royal Palaces, on what it’s like to work at one of the charity’s six venues.
At Historic Royal Palaces we are a really passionate team who have a huge amount of pride in what we do and the part we play in the charitable cause. We are also playfully competitive between the different venue teams which ultimately helps drive sales, keeps us pushing boundaries and trying new things. That said, our culture revolves around support, so we make sure we offer it across the different venues at peak times if necessary, as we all know how it feels to be under pressure. Historic Royal Palaces also has a Gold Investors in People accreditation, which highlights our investment in those who work for the charity.
I love our teams’ commitment to keep challenging the way we do things and to keep evolving the events business at these historic venues. We are faced daily with the responsibility of telling the stories of our palaces and showing what it is possible within them. Working with such a creative team to achieve this is hugely positive. It’s not often that you get to experience different departments as part of one role, or even different venues, but with six palaces to care for at Historic Royal Palaces, every day is different.
Our main consideration is that all six of our palaces are day visitor attractions, so we have to be flexible when it comes to our events to minimise the impact on our visitors. Sometimes we have some conservation work taking place, so that pushes us to think creatively to achieve their vision. Generally though, clients are very understanding and interested in our conservation work, as they know that they are helping us reinvest our funds back into preserving the palaces for the future. We have even made the most of this in the past and arranged for event trade journalists to view the restoration work on the Rubens ceiling at Banqueting House. Luckily, they had a head for heights!
HRP takes work/life balance really seriously and we make an effort to be flexible across the teams, in order to support everyone in busy periods. Our managers take care to allocate events evenly, and this applies to weekend events too. We have flexible working, and the events team make use of this. While we all work normal office hours, we make sure that we allow the team time to rest after an evening event; for example taking time off in lieu. HRP also has a wide range of internally produced e-learning modules and other career development courses, as well as the opportunity to do placements within other departments to learn new skills.
In the events industry there has been a significant shift towards an acknowledgement of the importance of a work/life balance. There will always be a need to work late and sometimes long hours on events, but there has been a rise in awareness of the general need to protect staff from over-working.
My advice to anyone starting out in the events industry is that, above all, you need to maintain both a sense of humour and a sense of perspective. You need to keep a calm head amidst the chaos, keep positive and motivate yourself and others to produce positive results. Work hard and perform to the best of your ability, ensuring people will not only remember you, but they will want to work with you again. Build good relationships with clients and colleagues as you will need their help and support regularly.