My Work History
All sorts of people find themselves working in all sorts of jobs that they would never have guessed they would get into. I had always worked in sales in one form or another until 2006 when I joined the Head Office Communications Team for my, then, employers: Halifax and Bank of Scotland (HBOS). My main tasks were to work on, or create, new policies under the banner of Corporate Responsibility, and then make them happen. It was a huge change, moving from managing branches of the Halifax, working with teams selling banking products, to instead selling corporate concepts to our employees and different sub-brands, as well as to external organisations within England and Wales. I had three fantastic years of learning all about communications, marketing and stakeholder engagement. I also worked on, and ran, related events including charity fund-raising balls and awards shows.
I have so many great memories from that part of my career, it was such a whirlwind. I spent a lot of time putting together strategies and different ideas to suit different parts of the business, but that was the easy part. After doing the creating, I was then also responsible for communicating the new, or updated, policies with the relevant audience. From drafting an article for our colleague magazine, to contributing to a speech for an executive to give in the House of Lords, no two days were the same, but my favourite part was working on the events. We did so many great things for charitable causes and it seemed that every month something was happening somewhere in the UK for us to communicate.
In 2008, the banking world came to a shuddering halt and December 2009 was my final month with HBOS. My three years working on communications were not wasted, however, and in March 2010 I joined a homelessness charity as Head of Communications and Fundraising. This meant a step up to formulating policies for everything our organisation was saying to anyone who had any interest in what we did. From a small welcome pack, designed to make someone previously homeless and living on the streets feel like they had a place to rebuild their lives, to creating a new website and internal staff intranet, I looked after everything and also developed a whole new fundraising strategy and effective dialogue with funding bodies.
In my first year, I launched a magazine as a way of bringing all of our stakeholders together. It was a part of my job I really enjoyed – finding out about how our services impacted on the lives of the people we looked after, and then communicating those stories to anyone who could help us make lives for homeless people a little better. In 2011 the magazine took first place in its category at that year’s Institute of PR awards, a highlight in my career. It was lovely to have an external organisation assess what had been an idea I presented to our board of Trustees, and to have them decide that the result was good enough to be worthy of an award – and ahead of some pretty big companies with much bigger communications departments!
I also organised a fundraising black-tie dinner in that year, and sourced a DJ through one of our contacts. This was when I first considered becoming a DJ myself. It was one of those classic, ‘I could do better than that’ moments. Being a DJ was something I had often thought I would be capable of, as I have always had a passion for music, especially played through high quality systems. I am only now remembering the event that changed that vague thought about becoming a DJ into a serious plan to setup a business. It came shortly afterwards at our usual office Christmas party. The DJ at the venue plugged an iPad into an aux lead and played a compilation of disco classics. He actually nailed the music selection for the clientele, but he couldn’t have looked more disinterested in the whole thing! I couldn’t believe that someone who appeared so not into music was actually making a party happen. Given my long-term love of music and all things Hi-Fi, I asked myself, “how could I do worse?”
So, in April of 2012, Michelle – my wife – and I officially opened our company, All Parties and Events, with a big launch party in a local hall. My first paid job was the following month, and at that first ’professional’ party, I secured a booking for yet another event. So, I knew I was right – I could be a DJ! As we progressed through the year, my new part-time job expanded rapidly. Christmas was extremely hectic, what with all the bookings we had secured, combined with a very busy time of year for all homelessness charities. I went into the following January knowing that something was going to have to give, my full-time corporate life and my part-time DJ work was putting a monumental squeeze on my work/life balance. I had been part-time for just a year when I took the plunge and became a full-time mobile DJ in April 2013.
My Pro Mobile History
In March of 2014, I attended my first ever Pro Mobile Conference. And then everything changed! My first Conference (the second ever held) was a real bona fide watershed moment for my career and our business. I found out about it through a Facebook advert and was instantly intrigued, but at the time we were living on a very tight budget. Michelle had gone back to work full-time to support our family and our new business. The old corporate salary was a distant memory, and our usual two weeks abroad had been swapped for a week in a tent in Devon (these were actually some of the best family holidays we’ve ever had!). So I was very nervous about asking Michelle if I could attend the Conference. I chose to handle it in a kind of ‘makes no difference to me’ way, secretly hoping she would like the idea. I put the advert in front of her and said, “this looks interesting, but it costs a bit more than I think we can afford”. She read the list of content and immediately told me I had to go!
This turned out to be the best decision we have ever made as a business. The amount I learnt about the industry, the number of new friends I made, the very real help I received from people who had only ever been DJs, was all invaluable – I was literally welcomed with open arms. I have so many stand out memories but must mention one which summed up the whole experience. There were these two guys who looked and acted like they were in a completely different league. They were smart, business like – in fact, really very corporate. The two in question were Robin Kershaw and Adam Boasman from Dancefloor Couture. I had a long chat with Adam who was very open and willing to share, which meant a lot as I learned just how good these guys were. Our chat helped me to shape so much of what we now do as a company – it’s these conversations which you just can’t put a value on, but can have a life changing effect.
I have attended every Conference since and have benefitted from so many moments of inspiration provided by a big room full of creative and talented individuals. I really think we owe it to ourselves to invest in our potential and make sure we can be as good as we can at any job we do. The environment created by the Conference is perfect for learning ways to improve your business whether you are part or full-time and the investment is bound to be repaid in new opportunities. Plus, we get to make new friends and contacts – what could be a better use of a couple of days?
My Journey To Becoming Editor
As well as attending the Conference, I’ve been a regular reader of Pro Mobile magazine since I first discovered it. I always find it inspirational to read about what my peers are up to across the UK, and also find the articles written by the varied pool of contributors to be interesting and insightful. I was therefore pleased to make my own return to magazine writing when Eddie asked me to pen my Profile in 2017. Since that first article, I’ve had the opportunity to write other pieces, as well as a number of equipment reviews. Last year I was invited to speak at Pro Mobile Focus and my involvement in the magazine, as well as the wider organisation, has now taken a giant leap forward!
Becoming Editor of Pro Mobile magazine is an exciting next step in my career path, though – I’m under no illusions – it will mean big changes to my daily schedule. The business I own will continue to operate as normal through a combination of our recent work on automating the booking process, and the fact that Michelle was able to leave her ‘day job’ a few years ago and now looks after day-to-day operations. We are also blessed with a large network of DJs who will be more than capable of filling any gaps that my new work schedule will create.
I realise, more than anyone, Eddie leaves behind some pretty big shoes to fill. The magazine he started is a fantastic resource for mobile DJs and is a vital part of bringing us all closer together, allowing us to be more informed about the latest advancements in technology, as well as emerging markets in our field. The road ahead for us is a long one of recovery. I have no doubt that the economy is going to be a difficult place for us all to operate and that there will be many hurdles in our way.
Since our DJ work stopped dead in March, I have personally found myself wearing many varied hats and re-inventing myself in many ways. I have been busy doing everything from putting together communications and sales processes for my local butcher – helping them deal with a shift to online demand – to working on an ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ strategy for a café. I have done consultancy work for two building firms, a bookkeeper and a factory which makes fish products. In the last issue of Pro Mobile, I also covered some of the DJ-related things I have done. However, I am absolutely desperate – as no doubt you are – to get back behind the decks and entertain a crowd once more!
I love our industry. Easily the most interesting and rewarding work I’ve ever done has all taken place since Michelle and I started our little company and Pro Mobile has been central to that journey. I have no doubt that without it, it would be unlikely that I would have the business I have now. So I am humbled to be the magazine’s second ever Editor, and promise to do everything in my power to help this industry come together so that we can face our shared challenges head on.
My Life Outside Work
So, you already know I am married to Michelle, the most supportive and loving human being on the planet! We have been married for 16 years and have two boys, Daniel (15), who has just started in his final year at secondary school, and Lewis (11), who has just moved up to the same school to join his brother. We live on the edge of the New Forest, five minutes from the South Coast, an area I don’t think I’ll ever want to move away from. It’s a really great place to live if your family includes a dog, like ours does; Harry is the fourth male in our household. Michelle is a little outnumbered!
If you’re a football fan, then please do feel free to mock me for my lifelong suffering endured as a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. I played ice hockey for near on 10 years, like to play the occasional game of golf, I’m having a go at learning tennis, but swimming is my main sport. I enjoy being in any pool, but as an Advanced Open-Water Scuba diver, nothing quite beats a dip in the ocean in scuba gear. I also have an interest in motor racing, and have attended the best annual motor race in the world, the Le Mans 24-hour race, some 19 times over the years.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 104, Pages 22-25.