Jason Cardy, Events Director at Capita Travel & Events is our spotlight interviewee for April. We asked him a variety of questions on his professional and personal successes. His responses are truly inspirational to all of those in the hospitality and events industry and he shows great character of a true event professional. Read below to find out more:
1. Tell us about your professional background and how you got into the position you are today:
I’ve worked in the events industry almost twenty five years, working with some great individuals and teams to create and make memorable events and I wouldn’t do anything else. Like the industry itself, I have had to be adaptable, a “jack of all trades” … from plumbers’ mate, chef, barman to Banqueting Manager.
After leaving college, I spent 4 years at university, successfully completing a BA (Hons) Degree in Hospitality & Licensed Retail Management. This business degree supported various skills from accounting to working in a professional kitchen. As part of the course, I decided to complete my gold Duke of Edinburgh award, travelling to Africa to aid a local school & HIV orphanage. In the last year, I found myself supporting a kitchen brigade and cooking for Pru Leith at an NSPCC charity ball.
Whilst at university, I found myself, like many others before, earning money any way possible, including being a butler for the Earl of Bradford at Weston Park and working as a trainee manager at the Grand Hotel in Brighton.
After finishing my degree, I decided to continue down the route of hotel management. I quickly found employment in the wedding industry; 2 weddings a day, 5 days a week, for a couple of years before progressing into Conference & Banqueting Management for De Vere Hotels in Swindon.
After working in the hotel sector for a while, I went into partnership with a friend, managing a mobile cocktail bar service for events, called “All Shook Up”. It wasn’t quite the success we were hoping for and so I decided to move into the events industry and have been there ever since.
I have worked as an event manager for 15 years, planning and executing customer events all over the world. This includes all the creative, technical and logistical elements that help make and event successful, whilst also specialising in ensuring the health, safety and insurance regulations are followed whilst managing onsite project teams.
Now, I am an Event Director for Capita Travel & Events. This means I am responsible for event customer business plans, trading performance and strategic event reviews. I develop, shape and maximise strategy with our customer portfolio, support and deliver events in the UK and internationally, both pre event and onsite, with the team.
2. Tell us about one of your personal experiences within the industry so far, a most memorable moment?
Joining the HBAA as Chair to the Events Committee and managing the two landmark events in the HBAA calendar – the Annual Dinner and Annual Forum. Putting on an event for fellow event managers is no easy feat! We made the HBAA board’s wish of a “camp” themed event come true with an extremely memorable evening of dance, drag and a celebrity DJ. We received some fantastic feedback and also raised over £20,000 for the social enterprise scheme Buses 4 Homeless -supporting homeless people with somewhere to live, eat and getting back into work.
3. What have been your highlights and most proud moments so far in your professional career?
Going back to college and being awarded a NEBOSH certification, which means I can ensure our events are safer. The diploma is an advanced health and safety qualification, recognised all over the world and is requested by many employers; the ideal course if you want a successful, long-term career in health and safety and to achieve best practice in the events industry. The qualification supported me in training our event teams in event safety and the importance of conducting risk assessments for all our customer events. I worked with our quality manager to create a health and safety standards and procedures manual for our teams, adding a new health and safety service to our rate card and hosting an educational customer event at our biannual Event Directors’ Forum.
4. What in your experience, has been the biggest change in the industry over the last few years?
Technology and looking after our people have been the biggest key factors of change over the last few years on the projects that I have been involved with. I have seen a huge rise in demand for paperless technology in the forms of multi-purpose branded registration and event apps to a huge change in our industries culture when it comes to looking after everyone in the team.
5. How do you see the events industry coping with the newest challenge that is the Coronavirus? What will you be doing differently going forward?
This is a never before experienced situation for all of us. The Covid-19 outbreak has been a huge test for companies to re-examine the relationship between companies & employees, and to elevate the corporate culture to be mutually beneficial. This has also mirrored relationships with the events supplier chain. It’s defined the good and bad about human nature and I have loved the way that the industry has worked together whether it’s been via virtual technology to being flexible with cancellation charges. I am so proud to be part of a fantastic industry.
Driving new initiatives, creative thinking and new strategies to support our partners and customers are the future for our events and the industry. Staying strong, keeping in contact and collaborating until it passes are important for us. I am sure we will make some mistakes and improvements along the way and look forward to when it has gone.
6. What is it that you most love about the events industry?
It must be the people I work with and the fact that every day there is something different. Words jump out like… challenging, energising, rewarding and fulfilling. This is probably the reason why I have been in the industry so long now and have no plans to change at present. How can you not love a job when plans come together, with opportunities to travel the world and engage with all walks of life, as part of your career.
7. What does your ideal weekend look like?
Number one is time with my family; the people I love. Number two is “me time” whether it’s in the garden, bike riding or on the Xbox. Number three, is time with friends catching up and eating good food and drink.
8. If you had could have a superpower, what would this be?
Being able to breathe underwater; I tried scuba diving last year and loved it! Being able to explore new worlds underwater and have opportunities to share it.
9. Where is your dream holiday destination and why?
I love to explore and visit new destinations. My exploits so far have taken me on some exciting journeys. For example, exploring winter activities such as dog sledging, whale/bear sighting and ice driving / canoeing in Canada; going to South Africa and cage diving with Great Whites and exploring shipwrecks off the Cape Peninsula. I simply love the great outdoors!
10. Do you have a favourite inspirational quote, if so, what is it?
“Falling down is part of life. Getting back up is living”. Anonymous
We all went through testing times when I was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2009 and thanks to my wonderful family and friends, and the amazing hospital staff, I got through it.
11. If you could describe yourself as any event, what would this be and why?
A family fun day, as you need to be innovative, hardworking, passionate and most of all have fun! In order to achieve a memorable one. Big thank you to the team at Off Limits for supporting projects past present and future; couldn’t have done it without you!