Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business

Exclusive Interview: Liz Brookes, Managing Director of Grapevine Event Management

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As part of Business News Wales’ ongoing series of interviews, we had the chance to speak with Liz Brookes, MD of Grapevine Event Management.

Can you give our readers a little background into yourself and your role within Grapevine?

I am the owner and MD of Grapevine Event Management.  A graduate of Cardiff University in Social Policy, I fell into the events industry accidentally on leaving University and felt immediately at home and I have never left. I have been responsible for organising events throughout Europe and the UK for numerous corporations, most prominently the Society for Endocrinology and from 2006 as the events manager for the Audit Commission.

In 2011 I founded Grapevine Event Management.  We are responsible for managing such events as the Wales Start-Up Awards, Cardiff Business Awards, Fast Growth 50 Awards, Caerphilly Business Forum Annual Awards and Cardiff Business Club.

What are your plans for the next five years, and where do you see your challenges and opportunities?

The next few of years will see Grapevine producing more events over the Bridge as more opportunities open up for us, as well as continuing to produce top class events in Wales. The team will grow to accommodate the work we have planned.

The biggest challenge is finding the right staff that fit in with the Grapevine way of working.

Looking back at your career, are there things you would have done differently?

I believe that everything happens for a reason, therefore I am not sure I would have done anything differently. I certainly would never have predicted that I would be running my own company one day!

What do you think are the most important qualities for success in business?

Passion, integrity and drive are hugely important qualities for success in business. I absolutely love producing events so I am lucky to be able to work in an industry that I truly have a passion for.

What are your top three tips for success?

  1. Ask advice – don’t be scared to ask for help, find mentors, business leaders and friends and ask their opinion.
  2. Enjoy it! – Life is too short if don’t enjoy what you are doing
  3. Learn to delegate – it’s hard to let go when it’s your own business but you need to delegate to be able to see the bigger picture and take your business forward.

Are there any innovations within your sector that you believe should be adopted by the wider Welsh market?

With event tech constantly updating Wales needs to be able to offer fast broadband everywhere to be able to allow event planners to utilise the tech that is on offer. Live streaming, social media, event apps are all used extensively at events and offer the delegate unique experiences. Going to venues or areas that still struggle to get a 3G connection is just not acceptable. Wales will miss out on being the venue of choice if this isn’t corrected soon.

Do you have any predictions in regards to the impact of Brexit on your sector?

It’s hard to predict clearly how Brexit will affect the Events industry but during this time of negotiations, we need to remind ourselves of what we do so well and focus on communicating all that makes the UK event industry the envy of the world.

With the focus very much on the UK right now, Brexit is an opportunity to strengthen our relationships with national and international partners, showcase the great and the good of the UK events industry and drive home the message the Britain is very much open for business.

What do you think Wales’ strengths and weaknesses are as a place to do business?

Wales is full of fantastic businesses and offers a great place to base a business but I don’t think we are very good at shouting about how good we are. There are some amazingly successful businesses in Wales and we don’t promote that enough outside of Wales. We need to be more positive about how great it is to work in Wales, the better quality of life, lower overheads to run a business here, the funding and support that is on offer.

What skills should the education system be promoting to the next generation?

I think the education system should be promoting entrepreneurial skills to young people. This would benefit young people from all social backgrounds and all levels of intelligence because it teaches them to think outside the box. This in turn instils confidence and ambition. Bringing in Business leaders to schools to talk to children from a young age, provides a different kind of role model, one that is more accessible and realistic than the Kim Kardashians of the world.

How important is it for there to be a close relationship between business and higher education in Wales?

I think this relationship is vital to help retain the skills that are being taught in education in Wales to improve businesses in Wales.

Higher education establishments should connect with businesses to provide work experience, placements, apprenticeships. Business, in turn, would look to these establishments for a future work force.