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Vicky Gardner, Director, ZiaBia Events Consultancy

Vicky Gardner is the Co-Founder and Director of ZiaBia Events, a UK-based Corporate Events Management consultancy. Vicky talks to the Industry Leaders about why she loves her industry and how she was able to pivot during the Covid-19 pandemic.

How did you end up sitting where you are today?

A 10-year journey through working in hotels lead me to the Events Industry.

I loved working in hotels; I started waitressing at 16 and met colleagues from all over the world. It taught me how big and small it was and that I wanted to experience it!

I was first working in Corporate hospitality, then a stint in the Weddings sector before moving to a Corporate Events Agency in 2005, where I was an Account Manager for clients like BP and Diageo. ZiaBia Events Consultancy was founded in 2012 and the experience I had throughout my career before launching ZiaBia was invaluable to where we are today!

What kind of work does your role involve?

Our role is to find solutions for platforms or venues for the event to be held on/at, create a logistics plan and ensure all deadlines are met for the event to take place. A key part of the role is problem-solving, offering advice and guidance, and keeping everyone accountable and on target to deliver a seamless, professional outcome.

We project manage the event on behalf of our clients and bring in partners to help us deliver. No two days are ever the same, and you get to work on so many different types of events and with so many different people and teams, which keeps the adrenaline flowing, and there is never time for complacency or bored!

What gets you excited about your industry?

We work alongside our clients to support and advise them, delivering their external customer marketing and internal employee conferences. More recently, all events delivered have been virtual, but live in-person events will become a big part of what we do again soon - with a transition to these through hybrid solutions.

The events industry has been through a huge evolution in the last year, which was devastating at first, but then truly inspiring and exciting as we have all learnt so many new skills and ways of working to still deliver for our clients! It appealed to me as it allowed me to travel, plan and work with people, which combined are 3 of my favourite things!

What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I will preface two books that have really helped shape who I am. I read one back in 2005 and the other in 2016.

The first was 'Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway', which helped me realise I could do anything; it was myself that was stopping me from achieving what I wanted to.

The second was 'Quiet' by Susan Cain - I am naturally an introvert, so this helped me realise you can be quiet but still strong and be heard! Also that I should be proud of who I am.

What, or who inspires you?

I ran a Marathon in 2018 and was inspired by watching the London Marathon the year before on TV. I thought, "I want to do that"!

I am inspired by so many people in many different ways - from the dancers on Strictly on a Saturday evening to the athletes who compete in the Olympics, to business owners I know who I see as inspirational.

My business partner, Debbie, my family and friends - it's important to have role models in your life. For me, it makes me want to be the best version I can of myself.

How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?

We receive industry publications online and magazines which I always read to further our knowledge, and we share this information internally as a team. We also have regular calls with suppliers to see what is happening with them. This has been invaluable in the last year as we have had to change our ways of working dramatically.

We do network as a business with local and national business owners, and we see this as a huge benefit as it offers peer support from people running their own businesses, just like you are

What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?

The biggest thing we have overcome as a business, which is not over yet, is Covid-19.

It decimated the events and hospitality industry overnight, as it did with many others as well. We saw our entire pipeline cancel for live events by May 2020. We had 2 choices, to close up shop or find a way forward by diversifying our services to offer Virtual Events.

We started marketing these services and learning how to in April/May 2020 and delivered our first event in June 2020 for Mind, the charity. Now we have a new client base we offer virtual services, which is growing!

You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?

I wouldn't tell anyone - not at first and would decide if I did and how once it had sunk in! I would go to work the next day, as I love what I do, but I imagine I would be quite scatty that day as my mind would be all over the place thinking of what to do!!

How do you switch off after a day at work?

I love cooking, so once I finish work, I may pop out for a walk, have a dip in the hot tub and then cook a lovely meal for myself and my partner before watching a boxset with a glass of wine!

If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?

For it to flourish again when we come out the other end of the pandemic. So many friends and ex-colleagues are either not currently employed or furloughed, so I would like to see them all back in roles within the industry they love again! I want to see live events back to attend concerts and festivals personally and see our clients face-to-face and help deliver their conferences!

What book or podcast should everyone know about?

This year, I started in January reading The Power Hour, by Adrienne Herbert, which I read in a week! Completely unheard of for me!! She is a trainer I have been following since the first lockdown, as I used FIIT as a home workout tool, and she inspires me 'to do hard things!' She also has a podcast which I recommend a listen to, also called The Power Hour!

How should people connect with you?

LinkedIn - Vicky Gardner

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