The event that re-ignited my passion
When I left my full time job last year, something just wasn’t right. I wasn’t myself. I was mentally and physically exhausted and just needed some time away. Something was missing. The moment you stop loving what you are doing you really need to take a step back and look how things can change. I didn’t want to be one of those people who complained about their job but then does nothing about it. Those people really frustrate me and I was heading in that direction. Actually. I was one of those people. So I made the big decision and left. Fast forward to almost a year later and it has finally become clear to me. The thing that was missing was my passion. And it took one large event called the Australian Open for me to realise that.
I have been to the Australian Open a few times over the years, just a general admission pass so only really seeing and purchasing from the retail outlets. I hadn’t seen any of the corporate dining let alone eaten in there. So being one of the Area Managers for corporate catering, I was walking into a whole new world. I had three rooms in Rod Laver Arena that I was responsible for. One of them being the Presidents Reserve. This was where the most important guests dined. And I must say, I saw some pretty high profile guests. Having come from a 5 star hotel, I have served some big names over my career and therefore seem to be able to see someone and continue with that same friendly smile whilst in my head saying “holy crap, that is ***!!” (and then usually in the kitchen with that staff saying “did you see *** on table 1?”)
The week in the lead up to Day 1 of the Open was rather overwhelming. At times I was wondering what the hell was going on but at the same time I knew I was put in that position for a reason and that I just needed to keep going. I mean, the event went for 2 weeks. There is no time to do training and ease yourself into it. You need to be ready to go on Day 1 and learn from any mistakes as you go and just keep giving 100%. I really felt that taking on new work like this I needed to make impact from the start. Guide and train my team (who I will only work with for 14 days) and keep a positive attitude throughout. That positive attitude became hard when I was on about my 19th day in a row of working, but I kept putting on that fake smile (another skill I perfected in my hotel days!) and ensuring the staff were doing what was needed to be done.
Are you still with me? I probably should have mentioned this could be a long blog post….
Now where was I? Oh yeah, the fake smile. Seriously though, I truly enjoyed working at the Open. I had forgotten how much I loved running events. How I can make people happy. I had forgotten what it was like being on my feet for 10+ hours a day. Being a part of a amazing Melbourne Event. But probably the biggest thing, I forgot what it felt like to work as part of a team.
I believe it was over a thousand staff that worked for the catering team for the two weeks of the open. Along with some permanent Melbourne Park staff, there was staff from Etihad Stadium at Docklands, Wembley Stadium in London and then hundreds of people who were just there for the two weeks. Besides the corporate catering team, there was retail, culinary, tournament, internals….. I think I have missed some but you get my drift. I had gone from working solo in this little small business of mine to being part of a team again and it certainly felt good. Being able to speak to people all day, call people for assistance, have people ask me things, it was all such a difference to the days I had become use to.
So going from being non stop and being surrounded by people for 21 days to being on my own and no one else around me was rather hard. I hadn’t thought about the ‘post-Australian Open blues’ but when mentioning it to another staff member I was told it was common. I was running on adrenalin for 3 weeks, on such a high and just going non stop. To wake up one day and it all be over was really hard for me mentally. Like really hard. The fatigued had hit me. I felt like I was jet lagged. I felt alone. I missed the radio ear piece and hearing the constant chatter during the day. It was weird. I hadn’t prepared myself for that. I thought I would get up and carry on with Inspired by Paper orders and all would be good. Clearly not. It was about a week when my sleep pattern went back to somewhat normal.
I really want to keep a part of me in the hospitality industry. I don’t want to step away from it completely. I love Inspired by Paper but I also love events and I think that I really can have them both. Melbourne is such a happening city with so many events, tournaments, expos on that I am sure I will be able to continue to share my passion with many others.
On the last day of the Open I was awarded ‘Ace of the Day’ which is a small award given out to a employee each day of the tournament. Along with some movie tickets and a beach towel, there was a certificate. The reason I received it was “Displaying a positive, cooperative attitude at all times and for demonstrating cordial, sincere and welcoming behaviours in interactions with guests and co-workers.”
I think my job was done.