Meet The Team: Helena Horesh
The very first non-family member at Speakers Corner, event coordinator Helena has seen Speakers Corner blossom over the last 9 years and has accrued a wealth of knowledge and memorable moments along the way.
As one of our excellent Logistics team here, she helps to make sure clients know everything they need to know and that speakers get to where they need to be. We interviewed her to find out what her day-to-day job is like, how the company has changed over time, and why she loves the city of London!
Hi Helena. You’ve been at Speakers Corner for 9 years!
That’s right. I was the first non-family member at Speakers Corner. I arrived when the business was literally being run out of a garage! There were four people back then, and I’ve seen us grow from that small family business to what it is now - which is exciting! I do have to say, that's been very important to me being a part of this . It's been wonderful to see a business grow from a small team into a well-respected speaker bureau with a number of teams, and with Nick and Tim blazing the trail for us to be so well-known in this industry.
Very exciting! How has it changed over time?
Well, we’ve always been a very efficient team, but I’d say that now we have more systems in place; there’s a more definite way of doing things now than there used to be. I’d also say that there is a lot more information on the database available that we can work from – it’s all there. Having a dedicated database is an amazing tool for me in logistics! It makes life so much easier, particularly as we have so many more jobs at any one time – I am very task-based, and this is my constant reminder.
"9 years ago, I became the first non-family member at Speakers Corner"
You are part of our wonderful Logistics team. What’s an average day for you like?
No day is ever what I expect it to be…
I leave the office one day and come back in the next morning with an expectation of what I need to get done. Typically, I start off by following up on emails and getting contracts done, so that they can be looked at and approved for the client by the end of the day (which is really important). I make lots of phone calls to clients to follow up, I set up briefing calls… sometimes there are more, sometimes less, depending on what’s going on. Like I say, no two days are ever the same!
What’s your favourite part of your job?
Having contact with speakers and clients. Building up those personal relationships with people. That’s what I like most. Hearing from someone that you’ve worked with for a long time say, “Oh Helena, my son has finally got through his GCSEs!” or something. It’s lovely to have that connection.
I also love how you may work with the same client for 9 years, but the relationship is still different between them and a different speaker. The dynamics of the briefing call with a particular speaker, or whatever that speaker is speaking about, changes the job each time.
"Building up those personal relationships with people. That’s what I like most."
Do you have any particularly memorable moments?
One of my most memorable relates to a certain speaker who called us up early one morning because they had forgotten their dinner shirt for a black-tie event that evening in Birmingham… but after a couple of phone calls with a wonderful client, we got him his shirt in time!
We also had the situation with the ash clouds, when we ended up not having a speaker in Paris because he was still in New York. We managed to discover that another speaker who spoke on something very similar was actually in Paris! We called him up and said, “Can you do this event for us tonight?” – and he could!
As much as you expect an event to go smoothly, I’ve learned to never breathe a sigh of relief until you’ve spoken to a client the next day and heard that it all went well.
I’ve gotta say. You guys are certainly great at thinking on your feet!
Aw thanks. Yes, we’re very good as a Logistics team at solving problems like that. As well as with help from everyone around us!
Our knowledge of logistics has built up over a very long time and become very sophisticated. We’ve got accounts with different travel companies and know who we can rely on to get our speakers where they need to be. Whatever the situation, there’s somebody on our team who will have an answer. We’re always drawing on this pool of our combined resources, memories, and experiences. Nobody ever feels like they should deal with something alone! If anybody has a problem, we sit down to solve it together.
"A supportive environment has always been encouraged here!"
We’re a chatty bunch, aren’t we?
A supportive environment has always been encouraged. Even in the earliest days, we’d shout out in the office to combine our ideas. Now, of course, it’s slightly more formalised as we have the different teams to focus on different areas, but we still know that if your team can’t help you, somebody else from another team will be able to! Even if they have to hang around a little longer in the evening.
Any favourite SC moments over the years?
Well, I have to say when we moved offices to here at Highbury Studios from our old office all those years ago… I was on holiday during the move and arrived back to work (after finally finding my way into the studios!) to experience a real ‘wow’ moment. I remember being greeted by our director Tim and just saying to him ‘We’ve really come a long way, haven’t we?' We’re in this lovely studio in North London, with this gorgeous mural on the wall… It was all so beautifully set up. Definitely a great SC moment for me.
You’re right! I feel like I need to appreciate our lovely office more now! So how about outside the office? What do you get up to?
Going to the gym – I used to do a lot of Zumba (we’re talking a real addict), but recently I’ve also gotten into body combat. I go every day if I can. A day without the gym is bad news for me! Even Sundays! It’s one of the few times that I fully switch off from work, especially when we’re really busy. It’s really important to me not just physically, but also mentally. I also like to walk with a friend every Friday, which is just gossip time!
How’s your new kitchen?
I love it! Baking is my way of being creative.
I still remember that honey cake.
Ah yes. For Rosh Hashana. See, that’s a lovely way for us to share our Jewish traditions with people to bring in food that’s relevant to that. And I have tons of cookbooks, so I’m always working my way through those…
Please continue to do so!
As a supportive office, we strongly support Helena bringing in delicious baked goods
You’re also always off to do interesting things around London - what do you enjoy doing in the city?
Recently, I’ve been really enjoying exhibitions. There are some great ones on at the V&A, as they curate their exhibitions so beautifully. I also love visiting The Tate. I sometimes go to things I know nothing about. It does open your eyes to exhibits, whether you like them or not. I also just love visiting the buildings in London, particularly on the Southbank. Just walking from Borough Market up towards the Houses of Parliament and the wheel. The views! The skyline! I took some friends from America up the Walkie Talkie recently and they loved it!
You know one thing to add that's great about Speakers Corner is that you get to see some really interesting venues. For example, when I went to see Frank Gardner at the Stock Exchange... where I would never think to visit otherwise!
I also love the theatre and the cinema. I go on a blitz before the Oscars to make sure I've seen all the films!
And beyond this fair London town... do you like to travel?
I love to travel! South America was amazing - we visited Macchu Picchu. Argentina too - we went to El Calafate and saw the glaciers, and I have never seen anything so beautiful that was not manmade. Just amazing. My other favourite place is Times Square in New York. I just love it. We have close family friends there, and there's just something about it. You hit the sidewalk, and you just feel giddy.
Amazing! And just to finish off... any fave speakers?
Also - Ranulph Fiennes! A legend in his own lifetime. I saw him recently and when he walked in not many people knew who he was apart from the MD who was that little bit older... and then he just blew them all away! You could have heard a pin drop when he spoke. He talked about himself and his achievements in such an understated way. So modest about himself. He talked about climbing Everest almost as if he had just popped to Sainsbury's for a sandwich! His story was amazing, and I was just so impressed to see the effect he had on the audience.
Ranulph Fiennes - a legend in his lifetime
Another person that I really enjoyed was Kevin Ivison who came to see us many years ago, back when we were in the old office. He was fresh out of the army and suffering from PTSD, and I was just in bits about his story! I really enjoyed seeing him become an accomplished speaker over time. Very rewarding to have been part of his journey!
And of course, it's just amazing to see all the Olympians and Paralympians! So incredible when you think about it to have these people visit us in the office and let us hold their medals (like the rower Mark Hunter). It also meant that, back in the lead-up to 2012, we were able to hear about all the behind-the-scenes stuff. Just amazing. Seeing speakers on a regular basis either in the office or at the event is a wonderful perk.
Any final thoughts?
I just think we should be very proud of what we've become as a business. When you've come from something that was just five people working together to what we are now... it really is amazing!