In this blog, we speak to Kirsty Edwards, Head of Commercial Events at Mellors Group. Kirsty talks us through her career, being a female in a male-dominated industry and speaking up no matter how silly you may feel.
Can you tell us a bit about you and your career?
I started my commercial career over 10 years ago at Nottingham Racecourse having had no previous experience in sales, marketing or events. I quickly learnt and grew within my roles, and after 8 years I moved on to a bigger role at Notts County Football Club. Being a young woman in football presented its own challenges, but ones in which I enjoyed and flourished in. After 2 years, I left to pursue a career solely in the events industry which is where I have spent the last 8 months.
A typical day in your career?
From January to July my days are consistent with planning for the years events, meetings with relevant stakeholders and colleagues, ensuring all document deadlines are adhered too and all departments are briefed and up to date with amended plans. During event days, I can be on-site working with the events team discussing ways to make the event better along with meeting various stakeholders and contacts.
What made you choose this career/industry?
I always enjoyed sales and marketing, and events was something I fell in to. I love to organise and within the role I do, even though its complex organising events that happen in a short space of time, it’s just a process, and as long as everything is methodically worked through and organised well, the event should run smoothly.
How did you get to where you are now and did you face any challenges along the way?
I faced lots of challenges being a young woman in business, events, and football so I have had to grow a thick skin and let my work do the talking at times.
If any, can you tell us more about how you overcame those setbacks?
I had to turn peoples negative comments and setbacks with losing sponsorship deals for example and use them as a reason to not lose the next deal, or to not show those people that doubt you that they are right. I used the negativity as a factor to keep me going and show them that I can do it.
What is an important initiative that you feel passionate about in your role?
I like to know that I’m doing a good job, but am quite good at motivating myself – seeing an event come to life and knowing that I am the one that has pulled it all together with the help of the strong team around me is what I get passionate about.
What do you think gave you the drive and determination to succeed?
I have always strived to be the best I possibly can be – I moved away from home when I was 19 years old and always had the ambition and fire to push forward, especially with the support of my then-boyfriend / now-husband.
What’s great about being a female in your role?
Being a female in a male-dominated industry has its advantages as people do sit and listen to you if you are confident and passionate about what you say. The struggle is when you show weakness and emotion.
What is your biggest achievement in life?
My biggest achievement is having my little boy and watching him grow to be happy and healthy, whilst continuing to grow within in my career working full time and getting that vital work-life balance every working parent strives for.
What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learnt along the way?
That once I let go of feeling anxious and shy, the world was my oyster and the only person really impacting on my success was myself.
Have you ever felt that your gender has brought unnecessary challenges to your career?
Absolutely – working in a football club and being a young female in heads of department meetings, it was definitely a struggle for my voice to get heard. However, being a woman in this male-dominated events industry has been positive and a completely different experience.
Outside your work, what are your favourite hobbies and pastimes?
I enjoy going to the gym, drinking wine and eating chocolate whilst watching Netflix with my husband and lots and lots of family fun at weekends with our 5-year-old.
Do you have a mantra you live your life by?
Your job is to be the best version of yourself and then invite others to join you – Mark Groves.
What three tips would you give to young females starting their careers?
Use obstacles as a reason to keep going, know there will be people trying to trip you up along the way and accept that rather than worrying about it happening, and always have a nice bottle of white wine and bar of chocolate in the fridge.
What is the best bit of advice that you have ever been given?
If you wake up feeling demotivated, dress like you mean business and others around you will believe you even though you might be having a bad day.
What are your key motivators?
Ensuring my little boy is provided for, and so that we can do lots of things like to go on holidays every year and make lots of memories as a family. He knows that he goes to breakfast club and after school clubs as mummy has to work to buy us nice things and so we can go on holidays.
What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?
Keep going and show you mean business, it’s yours to take if you want it so don’t make excuses.
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Speak up and don’t be afraid to share ideas even though you may think they are silly – I lost count of the number of times I was scared to tell everyone an idea in a meeting, for my director 5 minutes later to say the same idea I was already thinking.
What's the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
The only obstacle that you need to overcome is yourself.
What would you say to your 16-year-old self?
Enjoy being young and having no responsibility rather than looking forward to getting out of education, don’t grow up so fast.
If you found Kirsty’s story as inspirational as we did, why not check out more of our YSC inspirational women here.