Spotlight Series: Meet Practical Hospitality Coach Joanna Hambridge

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

Hi, I’m Joanna, and I am an Event Manager, Examiner, Mentor, Coach and owner of The Practical Hospitality Coach.

I am passionate about helping people navigate their careers within the hospitality and events industry as I believe it is such an exciting, innovative and diverse place to work. The roles and experiences available are not always widely known, and my aim is to showcase the industry as being one of the top career choices in the future for graduates and professionals looking for a change of direction.

I love to learn and always have a new course on the go to try and explore new ways of thinking and different methods of growth. I also love to read and plan future travel plans to see the world!

2. What was your first job and how did you get it?

Having worked in numerous coffee shops and restaurants during my days of being a student (I studied for a Degree in Hospitality Management & Business Statistics), I graduated with big dreams of launching a glamorous, and immediate, career in events – but got a big shock when this did not happen. I struggled initially to get a job and eventually ended up taking a low-level job in Pensions Administration!

This was not my dream, but I quickly realised that although the industry was wrong, the skills I could gain from this role could be transferable into the events industry (customer service, organisation, administration) and so I worked hard and grew my experience of working in an office. This decision paid off after about a year when I got my dream job of Events Administrator for an IT Association – a role which definitely required all of the skills I had gained from my ‘seemingly irrelevant’ first job in pensions!

3. How did you decide and get to your career today?

About 5 years ago, I signed up to be a Mentor in the School of Hospitality at my former University. I had begun working freelance by this point to provide flexibility for my young family and was considering a move into teaching. I thought the mentoring would provide me with experience of working with younger people who were just starting out in their careers and I could then make a better decision on if teaching was the right choice for me.

I very quickly realised that I loved the process of starting working with someone at the start of a journey, using my experience to help them move forwards, and then being there at the end to see the progress. My love for mentoring and career coaching had begun. I have since expanded and also joined as a Mentor at the university where I completed my Masters and put one foot into education by becoming a Principal Examiner in Hospitality. I love the fact that I can now tie together my training, work experience and my love and passion for the industry to help and inspire other people to make this their career choice.

4. What advice would you have given your younger self? Or what is the best career advice you have ever received?

I would always say that trusting your instinct is the best way to make any decision, including about your career. If you feel that your current role is not fulfilling you and making you happy, then take a few steps sideways and investigate if you could make a move in a different direction. I often see people held back by their self-limiting beliefs, and this causes frustration and a block to creative energy. Finding the courage, or help, to take that first step is the best way to find out if something else would make you happier.

5. In 5 years, where do you hope to be professionally and personally?

My 5-year plan includes growing, The Practical Hospitality Coach, to attract hospitality and events students and professionals from around the world and providing career coaching, training and networking opportunities to promote and inspire more people to consider this industry as a great place to grow their career.

Stay connected with Joanna!




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