Meet Rachael....

Name: Rachael Lee

Job title: Membership Director

Date you joined started to work with the board: I began working with AVS in November 2017, I set up my own business and was fortunate enough to be asked to work with AVS almost straight away.

Why you wanted to work with the AVS Board: Having worked within one academic venue for 10 years I was excited about the prospect of working with lots of senior people within multiple Universities and gaining many different perspectives, and what better place to do this than with AVS?

What do you bring to the party: I have a background in B2B sales and account management within hospitality, more latterly within the academic venue sector. My experience allows me to empathise with both the board and the venues, and I have a deeper understanding of what they are trying to achieve. Working within this environment is so rewarding however, often quite challenging. I can help our customers understand how to navigate the academic venue sector and our venues in terms of what customers expectations are.

What do you hope to achieve in the next 12 months individually and collectively:  Individually I would like to keep AVS on track with our current trajectory, making sure our members achieve the ROI they expect, making sure our event buyers have a great experience through AVS at both our member and associate venues and to keep increasing those membership numbers! Working with the board we are setting ourselves ambitious goals to maintain membership and deliver exceptional events throughout the year.

What’s the best thing about working with the AVS board: The people. I know it sounds cliched, everyone I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with over the last 6 years has taught me something invaluable. Everyone is a volunteer, and it never ceases to amaze me how much everyone cares about AVS and finds the time to contribute with directing the ship. I love the energy they bring and look forward to our meetings whether they are online or face to face. Working as a committee is natural to folk working within this sector but it takes patience, great listening skills and putting the needs of the membership before anything else to make a consortium work well.

What advice would you give to others thinking of joining a board?  If you want to be part of a group that is passionate about a certain organisation or topic, firstly make sure you have that same passion and that you can give your time fairly to that cause. It’s often a great idea to join a board which can help raise your own profile however, it is paramount to make the time to contribute constructively and productively. You also need to be of the mindset that sometimes you can’t action all the ideas, coming back to the ethos of the organisation and whether what you’re doing supports the members is a good principle to keep in mind.

What do you love about working in the industry: Oh no, here I go again – People! It’s the people you work with daily, the suppliers, the customers, the agents the networks that you build around you - that is what makes this the best industry to work in. It’s fun, after all who wants to go to a dull event? It’s about creating outstanding experiences for both the customers and the venues.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the industry over the next 12 months:  There are no surprises here, everything we are faced with at the moment from the cost of living crisis to the wide reaching effects of the war are the obvious threats however, as an industry we are resilient. We keep going, we faced the pandemic and fought our way back and still are, we won’t wait for the next crisis we will work through it and keep meeting, keep conferencing without waiting for the ‘what if’ we will do it anyway! Other challenges facing us are having the time to plan and reflect on what has been achieved, it feels like this is something no one has time for anymore. With everyone being so crazily busy are we too in the moment and less strategic and possibly less customer focussed at times. I also think we need to pick up the phone more and TALK! That’s a long term threat in general! 

What do you love to do when you’re not working: I love to walk with my working cocker spaniel, we have covered many a mile in the last 4 years with many tales to tell as neither of us can keep ourselves out of trouble or danger! I am an avid reader, anything from personal development to proper crime!  I love to get to different areas of the country and the globe when I can with my nearest and dearest. I cannot go a moment without music in the background so that’s a huge part of my DNA. Nothing outrageous there but loving life in and out of work is a balance that has to be managed constantly.