Rebecca (Becky) Fleming is originally from a small farm in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders. After graduating from QMU’s Events Management degree with a 2:1 in 2014, she worked in events for a trendy restaurant in Edinburgh’s city centre before securing a position as Sales Executive with the Place Hotels Group in the capital. She is now Group Sales Manager for the organisation.
Rebecca tells us about her love for Edinburgh and her experience of QMU.
Why did you choose the course and what attracted you to QMU?
I never really knew what I wanted to do but always enjoyed events and grew up with a strong background in hospitality, often waitressing at restaurants and helping out with events in the Borders. I then moved to Edinburgh to study Event Management for two years at college before deciding to further my studies at university. QMU really appealed to me because of the size; it didn’t feel too big to be intimidating but still felt big enough. It had a great atmosphere, it seemed vivacious and everyone was welcoming and friendly.
Why did you choose to study in Edinburgh/Scotland?
Having grown up in the Borders it was a city I was quite familiar with and it wasn’t too far away from home. Edinburgh always felt like a good fit for me. My sister had studied in Edinburgh too and I always thought it sounded like a really fun place to live and study.
Living Away from Home
Where did you live whilst studying? If you were living in halls what’s was the best part?
When I first moved to Edinburgh, I lived in halls but was friends with some girls who had a flat nearby, just near The Meadows. I moved in with them for my second year, then lived with friends in my parents flat for the final year of my studies.
The sense of freedom, and being able to walk to the shops and meet friends in bars and restaurants so close by, was a novelty to me - it was a real change from growing up on a farm that I loved!
Life in Edinburgh – what was the best experience you had in Edinburgh? Are there any hidden ‘gems’ you’d like to share?
I loved my time studying in Edinburgh and haven’t actually left! As a student, I used to love all the nightlife, finding new places to go to and meeting new people. The latest hidden gem I love is the terrace at The Place hotel, where I work. It’s amazing!
Was there any aspect of the University that helped you make up your mind about choosing a course at QMU?
I loved the size of the uni. I went for a look around a few different universities in Edinburgh on show rounds arranged by our college and QMU stood out. I think this was because it was modern. With a location on the outskirts of Edinburgh, it was just a short drive away from the city centre and also offered some parking.
What was the most interesting part of the course?
I really enjoyed the dissertation. I admit, it was part of the course which initially seemed very daunting to me. From the start, the thought of it scared me and even put me off going to university. However, when I eventually started working on it, it was great to be out and about speaking to real professionals in the industry and actually looking into a topic. It was all about why people choose certain foods (for example lobster and caviar) - if it was to show off or for their own pleasure and satisfaction. I actually found it really interesting and thought- provoking. It didn’t feel like the dissertation I had been dreading at all. It was also a real benefit having the support of a lecturer throughout my project. This meant I had someone to bounce ideas off and they helped me stay on track with the timescales, as well as the structure of the overall project. It was an amazing feeling when my friends and I handed in our dissertations. I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment that I won’t forget.
Any advice for students who might be interested in this course?
Go for it!
What happened immediately after you graduated?
When I was in my final year at QMU I had been working as a waitress at Rick’s, a restaurant in the city centre. I took on the role of its Christmas Coordinator shortly after graduating. This seasonal role gave me the opportunity to manage events and bookings before finding a long term role in the industry. I then joined The Place Hotel as a Sales Executive, ahead of its new function suites and terrace space opening in 2015.
Tell us about your work and your plans.
After my initial role with the company, mentioned above, I progressed to become Place Hotels Group Sales Manager. I now manage sales activity for The Place Hotel, as well as a couple of other properties - The Inn Place, which is a hotel on Cockburn Street, and The Edinburgh Press Club, which is a coffee shop, also situated on Cockburn Street. We also have a new property joining the group soon so it’s a really busy and exciting time!
Day to day I look after new enquiries for the event spaces, as well as group enquiries for our public areas and bedrooms. The clients we work with are a real mix between corporate and leisure. We work with them to host different events, from meetings to weddings and BBQs. This means the role has lots of variety and there is a real need for flexibility. I enjoy finding out what the clients requirements are and making sure we offer them something that meets and exceeds their desires. I then handle the different events from this initial enquiry stage right through to when all the details are confirmed. I then pass this information on to the operations team. In addition to this, I make sure each of the properties have a social media presence and that we are actively scheduling sales activity throughout the year, and looking ahead to make sure we are ready for the next promotions and events we have planned.
Would you consider further study?
Yes, I think QMU really helped to set me up for the role I’m in today. At the moment I think it would definitely not be something I would say no to and although I don’t think I would be able to fit it into my busy life at the moment, in a few years I may look at studying again.
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"It was also a real benefit having the support of a lecturer throughout my project. This meant I had someone to bounce ideas off and they helped me stay on track with the timescales, as well as the structure of the overall project."