Class of 2003 Testimonials

Lerease Sweeney – Events Manager & Travel Company Founder

WARNING: The images in this testimonial could leave you feeling a little jealous!

Name: Lerease Sweeney
Job Title: Events, Lettings & Reception Manager, Co-Owner/Director of  RJSHolidays.com and Founder of LereaseTravels.com
Contact: LinkedIn
Working for: City of Westminster CollegeRJSHolidays.com & LereaseTravels.com
Studied: BA (Hons) Music Industry Management and Marketing
Graduated: 2003

Who do you work for, and what is your role?LereaseSweeney
City of Westminster College, in a new building completed in 2011.

My role is to generate income from the college’s multiple spaces when it’s not being used for educational purposes. I also manage the Front of House team.

LereaseSweeney_CofW

What is involved in your day-to-day work?
Managing multiple site visits with clients who want to host anything from a meeting, fashion show, film screening and wedding to a crew of 100 working on the latest blockbuster film!

It could be that I oversee the process and put together a team on the ground to make things happen, or I’ll manage the whole process for the client, all without disturbing the College’s core business. Lastly, I always have to keep in touch with the Front of the House team, ensuring that the visitor experience is streamlined and updated regularly to reflect on-going changes.

What have been your main career achievements to dateLereaseSweeney_London
Overseeing a complex long-term letting to a huge international hospitality partner for the Olympics. We literally moved their whole International Operations with 50 staff here for six weeks, and although hard work it was an incredible experience and everyone who assisted got to go to the games in some form.

How has your qualification from Bucks helped your career?
I had a strong interest in Music and friends working in the field, so it was the best way for me to learn my trade with an area I was interested in, though could have been applied to any industry.LereaseSweeney_Dubai2

Events is a huge part of Marketing and for a long time I went the Marketing route and was Acting Marketing Manager at a company before I moved to this role, but my personality always brought me back to putting on good events;  being calm with an ability to manage multiple things and people at once without shouting at anyone!

Upon reflection, what skills did your qualification give you that help in your job?
Forecasting, Strategy, Economics, Meeting and prioritising deadlines. Work / Life Balance.

What advice would you give to a student who is about to graduate into your role/industry?LereaseSweeney_Hotel
The Events Industry can be very much about who you know, but its incredibly important to not only know the right people but know your job inside out by getting experience and having the theory to back up your practical application.

Where possible, get that experience!
In these creative industries it really is essential for you to be able to hit the ground running.

Are there any misconceptions about your role/industry that you would like to address?
That it’s all glitz and glamour. With events people turn up and take for granted that everything you see, hear, touch, experience has been arranged in someway.

What advice would you pass on to your first year self?LereaseSweeney_EventsManagment
To have networked more and to have worked harder. If only we had the social media resources then that we have now!

To treat everything as an opportunity, take more risks and try to foresee your future NOW at this age.

Use your holiday periods more wisely to boost your CV but also balance that with travelling the world. It’ll teach you greatly about life.

Please tell us anything else about you, your time at Bucks, your industry or role that will be of interest.
I remember Bucks being a great place to be, surrounded by like-minded people from all walks of life, most of whom I still check in with now, and many remain my closest friends.

Outside of work I also run a nightclub based holiday company: RJSHolidays.com which takes place in a different country every year, for the past 15 years, which keeps me on my toes!

Finally I now also write a Travel Blog:  lereasetravels.com, as with all events I do, they’ve taken place worldwide which has been great.

Please tell us a little more about your travel company and blog.
My father started RJS Holidays with a bunch of friends who all shared a love for music but wanted to holiday closer to home, be introduced to a package holiday, whilst being entertained by their favourite London DJs. Myself and my brother then took over 8 years ago and 30 years later we shall be doing exactly this in Grenada for the anniversary trip to mark its 30th year.LereaseSweeney_Cuba2

With LereaseTravels, I have always had a love for travel since my parents took us away to have a family holiday after the RJS trips, and I had more than a keen interest in geography at school. Once I started working in Events, travel became a key part of the role and I then applied for a position which involved creating a video of your travels. I didn’t get the position but instead felt compelled to start the blog and go back and look at some of my previous trips.

Problems encountered:
For RJS it’s to keep the prices low for people, in this current climate any of the travel agents we use are constantly battling to keep prices down which can be difficult. In 2008 XL airways going bust cancelled our whole trip one year and everyone had to fight to get their money back which was really disappointing!

For LereaseTravels; it’s to find the time to constantly find and write content etc. with a full-time busy job, but I’m committed! Also to get the gist of all the technical elements of a blog was a lot to take in.

Successes:
For RJS Holidays it’s definitely seeing how many people who are friends or even married who met on the trip. To be known as one of the best organised trips that are on the market currently. Also to be able to celebrate 30 years of hard work and some of our most loyal people not missing it despite the distance of the trip.

For LereaseTravels… to see the growth from when I first started, and to see some blog posts get over a 1,000 views now.LereaseSweeney_Malaga

General advice on starting a company and blogging:
I found a great resource in a lady called Sarah Akwisombe who ran a blogging course who took me through some vital steps, and this helped me incredibly.

I recommend going to some free workshops for entrepreneurs, check out things like Business Link which has the wealth of knowledge.

Advice for juggling a full time job alongside running your own company:
Being an Event Manager gave me the exact skills I need. To be organised is a complete understatement.
Use your time wisely, keep a spreadsheet, get a scheduler for your social media stuff and be prepared.

Everyone at work knows about the other two things I do outside of work. They all send me interesting articles etc. which is great.

Also be strict about giving yourself a cut off time in the evenings to put the laptop down and go to sleep. Also stick to being social, I rely heavily on my diary and I never miss a friends birthday, that’s incredibly important to me.


A message from Bucks New University Alumni Service:
Thank you so much Lerease for sharing this with us.
Are you an alumni who can match that?!:  Alumni Testimonials

See more of Lerease’s amazing photography at:
http://www.instagram.com/lereasetravels/

LereaseSweeney_Malaga LereaseSweeney_London LereaseSweeney_LA LereaseSweeney_Hotel LereaseSweeney_EventsManagment LereaseSweeney_Dubai2 LereaseSweeney_Dubai LereaseSweeney_Cuba2 LereaseSweeney_Cuba1

 

 

 

 

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