One year ago, former account manager at InSynq Kiera Gilbey kicked off our Coronavirus Chronicles series of blogs with an honest account of how the pandemic had impacted her both personally and professionally in the early days of the first lockdown.
Twelve months later and sadly Kiera is one of many eventprofs who have had to find work outside of the industry. Here, she reflects on her experiences and looks to the future with optimism…
Anybody still baking excessive banana breads and taking sweaty selfies after 5K runs? No? Me neither. A lot has changed since March 2020 when I last wrote for Micebook, and yet here we are, still thinking, reading, and writing about this relentless virus.
In March 2020, I was working for Insynq Events, a small events agency in Berkshire specialising in conferences, trade shows and incentive travel. As was the case for the entire industry, the pandemic hit us very hard.
For me, the biggest change over the last 12 months is that following a tough period of furlough, then redundancy, then working as a cleaner, I have left the events industry and am now working in the sales department for a construction company in the social housing sector.
I feel like a new term needs to be coined for redundancy during the pandemic as it was a totally different experience to redundancy during any other time in recent history. Hearing news of a friend, family member or acquaintance being made redundant became a tragically regular, almost expected part of life. In one way, this made the experience so much easier. There was no feeling of shame or embarrassment; I joined the honorary redundancy club and was welcomed in with open arms from friends in the industry and beyond. However, as any good David Attenborough wildlife documentary will teach you, while there is of course safety in numbers, there is also competition.
I spent my days in the cycle of applying for jobs that I knew I did not want, that weren’t relevant to my skillset and wouldn’t pay me what I needed, and then being absolutely gutted when I didn’t get them… Repeat this process about 1000 times, and that’s pretty much what autumn 2020 looked like for me.
When I received the phone call from the HR department at a Construction company, I was naturally confused at first about how/why they felt my skills (as an Event Organiser with a Theatre and Performance Degree) could benefit them. I was told that they didn’t mind my lack of experience in their industry, they were interested in my potential, and following a tough interview with three team members including the managing director, I was offered the job.
In addition to my day-to-day duties, since starting with PiLON Ltd I have:
- Proposed and led a charitable initiative raising £1325 for Mind
- Am currently working on an NVQ qualification in Housing.
- Stayed true to my Event Organiser roots and am continuing to use The Delegate Wranglers Facebook page to source suppliers.
- Taken a leadership role in companywide Branding and Communications Initiative:
- Main point of contact for external consultant
- Creation of Tone of Voice document
- Delivery of in-person presentation to Senior Management Team and virtual presentation on a companywide level.
A significant band-aid to my knocked confidence from 2020 is the support and encouragement I have so far received from my new employer. I have been encouraged to voice my opinions, take ownership of projects, and am getting a lot of opportunities for writing in the form of Sales pitches and Award submissions. I cannot express enough how important it is for employers to nurture and encourage their staff in whatever ways they can, especially for anyone still recovering from a redundancy blow.
Aside from work, it certainly shouldn’t go unsaid that I was one of the lucky few that managed to get on a plane in 2020 (after two holidays to Bali and Malta went down the drain). At the start of October, my partner and I enjoyed a few fantastic days exploring Berlin and I highly recommend it as a city-break. The political history is enough to fill any trip, and we also found the time for fantastic local cuisine and a brilliant Segway tour (please do not be put off by your first 2 minutes on a Segway, I was a Bambi-legged mess at first, but was very happily zooming around the streets of Berlin after we turned the first corner)!
It is funny how the process of reflecting can change your outlook on things. Writing this blog has reminded me of everything I have achieved and enjoyed over the last 12 months in both my professional and personal life and makes me optimistic about the rest of 2021. So, in the spirit of things, here’s a checklist I will hold myself accountable for, to be completed before March 2022 (when I sincerely hope I am not writing my third piece for micebook’s Coronavirus Chronicles):
- To maintain my unbroken streak on my Duolingo Spanish course (currently at 302 days)!
- To once again feel the uncomfortable full-ness of a hotel buffet breakfast.
- To host as many dinners and parties for friends and family as can be squeezed into the 52 weekends of the year.
- To embrace any and all professional challenges.
- To travel to a new country.
- To look for new opportunities for writing.
- To never take getting my hair cut for granted EVER again – cut and colour booked in for 13th April and I am SO excited!