Verity Baynton joined the Speakers Corner hub in mid-August as an Account Manager. A languages graduate, fresh out of St Andrews, she has a lot to offer the team. We sat down to find out how she's getting on here, and it is safe to say it has been a very interesting time! Amidst her daily tasks, the new role has seen her eat a locust and speak to clients in French.
When not working hard, Verity is an avid swing dancer and a confident skier. Flung from little St Andrews into the big smoke, Verity’s new London life has been a cocktail of new opportunities, explorations and edible insects – what a time to be alive!
You’re new to the team - how are you finding working here, and what are your initial thoughts on the speaker industry?
It’s been good - I'm really enjoying working here. I love the small, supportive team; it suits me perfectly and means that there are a lot of opportunities to learn and absorb key skills. One thing that has really struck me is that I have had the chance to learn about the client industries. When I receive a brief from a client, I am given the opportunity to see the key issues that their industry is facing, and what a speaker can do to help this.
Before I started, I didn’t know much about speaker industry. To be honest, I found Speakers Corner by chance, but I am very glad I did. The speaker business is much, much bigger than I initially realised. Working here has also made me see that a lot of work goes into putting together an event. It is not just about the end client; it is a much bigger process with more layers - like an onion.
"Layers. Onions have layers!"
So basically working at Speakers Corner is comparable to Shrek the ogre?
Yes! We both have many layers!
Speaking of those layers, one of the important parts of working here is to go out and see the speakers in action at events, and to listen to their stories when they visit the office. Which event have you most enjoyed so far?
Well, I love hearing the inspirational stories of all the speakers that come into the office. One that stands out for me is an Oxfam event that I attended a couple of weeks ago. It was called ‘The Kindness of Strangers’ - a collection of adventurers who told their stories of how their journeys were only made possible by the good will of strangers.
I saw Sarah Outen there who was great - a real natural with a calming but confident voice – and you could tell she was in her element when she was speaking.
Another great event I went to was New Scientist Live. It was an incredible day – I even managed to eat a locust there!
That is mental! What did it taste like?
It was just so crunchy, the flavour is indescribable. All I can say is that it tasted of something you should never eat. Not an experience I was expecting within a month of my new job! There was also a June bug on offer, but I didn’t stray that far!
Verity's new favourite snack
Probably for the best. Off the topics of bugs, we know that you are a languages graduate. Have you had the chance to use your bilingual skills much in your new role?
Yes, I spoke to a client from Paris in French. It helped me brush up on my French telephone number skills – the French say their numbers in pairs so it can be quite confusing.
Learning how to take down telephone numbers was one of the main things I learned during my year abroad. French people never slow down - so you really do get thrown straight in.
So on your year abroad you lived in Paris for a year - how is London life comparing to this?
That is a tough one, both cities are very similar and different at the same time. Paris is much smaller, so it is more comprehensible to travel around; you can get anywhere in about 40 minutes, which is great. That said, I feel like there is a lot more going on in London. There is a greater sense of 'happening'.
Although, I do miss the bakeries in Paris.
In London, I have signed up for swing dancing lessons already - to do this in Paris would have been a very complicated task.
Verity's home for a year
In Paris, you have to sign a form for everything. To just play badminton, you had to have a signed letter from your doctor to say you were fit enough to play. The system is ridiculous - it is so hard to do anything!
Although I love French nightlife, they have the tradition of the apero – which is grabbing a bottle of wine, eating lots of cheese, and just sitting around with friends drinking and chatting. It’s lovely.
Whereas in London, there is a lot more focus on just drinking, but the nightlife is more diverse. I used the night tube for the first time last weekend – which is brilliant!
The night tube *is* brilliant! What else have you got coming up to look forward to?
Well, I chose next month’s book for the office book club, so that will be exciting! Also, I am looking forward to exploring more of London, I have a date to explore the Tate Britain with my friend soon, and I am going skiing next year. Skiing is a big part of my family traditions so we always enjoy going together.
The next book club title
Lovely! Thanks, Verity. We now know who to call for French phone number help – stay away from locusts!