ITBA Next Generation Apprentices 2016 / 2017 – Leona Hughes 2nd Blog: When I began working at Punchestown racecourse as the second phase of my apprenticeship, I had no idea as to how much I would grow as a person, not only as a professional. Punchestown has given me the opportunity to meet new people and do things that have been outside of my comfort zone. Initially I was very nervous as to how I would fit in to an already close knit work environment. I mentioned this in my first blog post. Although I am a bubbly, outgoing person, I find it hard to come out of my shell in a new environment. I am conscious of the fact that I am the new person, probably more so than anyone else takes note of and I am eager to prove that I am a good worker and that I do have a purpose.
My role at Punchestown racecourse is to shadow the PR & Communications manager Shona Dreaper. Shona is a very hard working individual and it is great being able to get an insight on what it is like being a strong and influential woman in an industry that is so saturated with men. Not to sound too discriminative but I am passionate of the fact that women can be just as good in this industry, success is determined on dedication and hard work not what gender you are.
It is very busy here at Punchestown at the minute. With a major re-development on the go and the annual racing festival to organise, it is a very busy time for all in the office and there is never a spare moment. On a daily basis it is my job to help maintain the social media aspect of Punchestown. I schedule tweets and facebook posts along with ad campaigns and helping to allocate the budgets that will help promote the Festival here in April. I also am in the process of helping design the media kits for all the press that will be a part of festival 2017. Additionally, I help with ticket sales and general admin duties that are all a part of the daily running of a busy office.
Although my time in Punchestown isn’t over yet, I am very lucky to have experienced a major highlight in my life, not just of this apprenticeship. I was lucky enough to be chosen to go to Cheltenham Festival with the team in order to promote Punchestown Festival in the trade village. It was an amazing experience and what made it even better was the phenomenal week that the Irish had overall. I had two days on the stand with Hilary and Laura, whom were very helpful in showing me the ropes and I learnt a lot from them.
The office in Punchestown is a very open environment where every opinion is valued no matter what your job is. I have learned that it is not until you are in a job or a role that you realise how much goes into it. I’ve learned that 120,000 people don’t just arrive at Punchestown in April by accident and that almost €3 million in prize money is not raised easily, it takes a lot of hard work and everyone is brilliant at what they do.
The famous Dick O’Sullivan has been a great mentor to not only myself but the other young people in the office by taking us aside now and again and telling us what we are doing well and how we can improve it. He gave us a talk one day on how he likes to run things. I have a sheet stuck to my desk with his five words of wisdom that have brought him his success to date; Strategy, Structure, Capability, Clarity & Responsibility.
I feel that here at Punchestown I have a purpose, that I am good at what I do but that also, I have a lot more to learn and the people that I work with are more than helpful. There is no hand holding at Punchestown. I have taught myself news skills like digital design and online advertising. With a small team running a big event you need to be a self-starter and do your best to get the job done. If you have an idea, you do your research; put the work in and your idea will be supported. If it works great and if it fails you analyse why, decide what you would do differently and move on from there. It certainly gives you confidence in business and it is a very supportive environment with a common end goal (Festival 2017 to be a success). Everyone mucks in together, no matter what their job description.