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Blog Meet the Team: Rebecca Matthews

Meet the Team: Rebecca Matthews

After graduating from Durham University in 2008, I talked myself into two weeks work experience at Speakers Corner and never left!  I now head up the Logistics team, which ensures the smooth running and success of 600 events every year.

Hi Rebecca, you are Head of Logistics here at Speakers Corner, can you tell us a bit about this and how you got there?

Yes, I am. My progression in the years since I started has been quite organic, I wanted to develop my skills and the company was growing in the same way so things aligned nicely. I was quite young when it first happened so it has been very much learning on the job through my own initiative and through Nick and Tim. I always keep my ear open to what our speakers are saying and I try to take on their top tips for management.

I have been given fairly free reign with my team, so what I wanted to create was quite aspirational. Mainly, it was important to me to create a support culture to weather the stressful times, I wanted us to be able to share knowledge and for everyone in logistics to feel assisted through the challenges.

A support culture is paramount through today's changing work culture, but how about the speaking industry, how has that changed?

In terms of the changes in the speaker industry, I would say it has got way more international than when I first started. Also, people’s thoughts toward technology have changed, clients used to really worry about tech requirements, especially things like MacBook’s - which are now commonplace. Also, social media has changed the speaking landscape as clients are wanting speakers to tweet about the event and be engaged online much more.

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TED made speakers available to the mass market

Similarly, the industry has changed due to the rise of TED, speakers have become available on the mass market. I don’t think for example young people would have gone to see a speaker before, but now you can find anyone speaking on anything.

That is true, TED has really changed things. So, what has working in the logistics team taught you?

I think one of the biggest takeaways would be that almost nothing is impossible. This links back to having a team around you. When the whole team are in the same mindset of trying to solve a problem but are approaching it in different ways, then this kind of diverse thinking comes up with exciting solutions.

It has also taught me to be detail orientated and always stay one step ahead of the proceedings, so I can forecast any potential problems. Also, I have a fairly encyclopedic knowledge on travel around the world, and opinions on certain airlines! 

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You name an international flight, Rebecca can tell you where you'll stop over 

Strong takeaways, thanks, Rebecca. As you know, we are given the chance to see lots of incredible speakers, so who have you loved and what lessons have you taken away from them?

One speaker who I saw recently who was amazing was Simon Sinek, he spoke about millennials and the challenges we face. There were four factors about why millennials are the way they are, and it changed my outlook on how I manage my team. He made me think about speaking to my team differently and how to make this working environment the best possible it can be.

The other speaker I love is Miles Hilton-Barber. To me, he is the most inspirational person ever! It is because of the way he is in himself, he is always such a joy to speak to, he brings joy to everyone’s lives. Someone could be on a call with him, having a bad day and after speaking to Miles, he can completely change their outlook.

We do love Miles! We know you are an avid traveller, what trips are on the agenda this year?

I just got back from Athens actually, we went a few years ago, to the Greek mountains and we loved it so much, the people were so friendly and the food was so great, so we decided to go back and we stayed in this lovely little Airbnb!

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Rebecca's Greek getaway 

Other than that, I think we might go to Brazil later in the year, or maybe Central America. Jared, my boyfriend, has never been to South America, so we are looking to go on an adventure somewhere new together! 

Where is on your travel bucket list and why?

So many places!! I want to go to Papua New Guinea to meet the tribes, I want to see the Gorillas in Rwanda, I’d love to go to the kingdom of Bhutan which is located entirely within the Himalaya mountain range. Only about 200 tourists are allowed there a year and you need a special permit.

I still haven't been to India and there are loads of places in Central America I want to explore further!

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The Gorillas are waiting for your visit too, Rebecca

You are also a brilliant chef, rumour has it you baked your sister’s wedding cake – can you talk us through the highs and lows of this process?

There were very few highs - maybe just handing it over! So, my mum (who has great baking experience) was going to do it, but then she conveniently broke her wrist, so it fell to me. Paula our office baker, talked me through the whole thing, gave me a list of utensils and ingredients that I needed and was on call on WhatsApp the whole time to talk me through the struggles.

One lovely thing that came out of the experience was that my Dad helped me make a willow wreath for the bottom of the cake and I didn’t know he had those kind of skills! 

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The cake in all its glory!

Sounds lovely, I bet it tasted good too. Speaking of delicious food, what would your death row meal be?

Interesting question, I actually have this conversation quite a lot. So, I would ditch the starter and go straight in for steak and chips for main. Then, to justify no starter, I would have three puddings - chocolate profiteroles, tiramisu, and an ice-cream sundae.

Rouge choices, but I appreciate the triple prong dessert approach. Last question, if there were to be a film about your life, who would play you and why?

I don’t think it, but a lot of people say I look like Kirsten Dunst so I’d probably pick her - she’s pretty cool too which helps! Also, I appreciate the fact that she is in a few offbeat movies and she keeps her personal life pretty low key – she’s great!

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We do see the resemblance! 

Thanks, Rebecca, we feel like we know you a lot better already. Please take us with you to Brazil, we promise never to ask you for a wedding cake! 

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