Meet The Team: Paula Hastie
Award-winning baker, happy dog-owner, and, fortunately for us, our super efficient finance manager, Paula Hastie started out in the role of event coordinator here at Speakers Corner, before deciding spreadsheets, invoices and calculators were the way forward and heading up our finance department! We talked to her about her time here, her gift for making the most delicious cakes, and why animals are the best.
When did you start at Speakers Corner, and how has your role evolved over time?
I first started seven and half years ago. It was a very small team at that point – just seven of us in the office including myself, Rebecca and Helena – and we’ve grown significantly since then!
Back then, I was an event coordinator as part of the logistics team - which now comprises Anna, Helena, Matt and Ela – and my job involved handling the day-to-day of what makes the magic happen at Speakers Corner i.e. getting our speakers from A to B for our clients!
Now, however, I head up the finance department, which sounds a lot more impressive than it is.
Sounds impressive to me! What’s the day in the life of a finance manager?
The day-to-day life is stress, stress, stress. No, I’m only joking. But it IS very chaotic, which is actually a very good thing. Speakers Corner is growing which means the finance department is very busy. There’s a lot going on - but I’d rather be busy, than not busy at all!
Who was the first speaker that you ever worked with?
Miles Hilton-Barber. He had such a profound effect on me. He was so positive and full of life, and I remember leaving work that day and just feeling so high and uplifited. He's infectious. I think he's possibly my favourite speaker, for more reasons than one.
Miles - the blind adventurer was the first speaker that Paula worked with
And who are some of your other favourites that we’ve worked with?
Let’s learn a bit more about you outside of the office. We know you’re a fan of animals?
My dog Alfie is the love of my life (or as I call him my LOML). He’s a blue Chinese Shar-Pei, and his full name is Alfie ‘Blue’ Hastie. He’s just turned 8-years-old. He is the best part of everyday. My husband’s great, but Alfie is… I mean. I’ve always been a massive fan of animals. I’ve had more hamsters than you’d believe; I had cats, dogs, a budgie, a gerbil, a guinea pig, a rabbit; I’d rescue stray animals. We effectively had a petting zoo. I’ve never had a pony though, which was very disappointing.
An Alfie montage
Ponies are a lot of hard work though.
I’m prepared for it though!
I believe you! You’re also amazing at baking, which only serves to feed (quite literally) our problem with eating cake here. What got you into baking?
I don’t remember exactly when, but I do remember this one time when I’d made a giant cupcake for a BBQ, which everyone seemed to enjoy so they suggested I try out some more recipes. I started baking more on weekends and, dangerously, eating everything that I made! Then, at another BBQ, somebody asked if I could make them a cake… and it started on from there! I think that was about 7 years ago.
This is also controversial but I would say that cake batter is better than the baked cake. Put it this way, I’ve never met a cake batter I didn’t like.
For me, it’s cookie dough over cookies, so I can relate to that. Also, we’re not going to let you sell yourself short here. You’ve won awards for baking!
I’ve won Silver two years running, and the next competition in London is April, so I’m hoping third year lucky! I’ll practice with the office again, as it’s important to hone those flavours.
It doesn't look like you need much practice.... but we are great cake testers in the office!
And finally, how has the company changed over 7 and a half years?
Nick has always had a clear vision of how the company should be run and what the ethos is: clients should come first. We provide an end-to-end service, and customer service is always at the forefront of our minds. Hopefully, I've carried that from my logistics past into my financial current and future. It's lovely to see the company grow and see new faces, but also that we've managed to not lose that family feel that we have here. Our company values haven't changed. Hopefully that keeps going and we keep progressing.
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