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Lorna Hendey, Live Events Catering Operations Manager for the NEC

What does a Live Events Catering Operations Manager do?
I run all the catering for any show that isn’t an exhibition, so ‘live events’ includes anything and everything that isn’t! Conferences and banqueting make up the main events but there is lots of variety even within that. The role was newly created when I joined Amadeus two years ago and it’s been a great learning curve where I’ve implemented new processes and different standards for the events. I have no home or base as I go into whichever hall the event is booked in, so I’m always in different environments.

How did you get into this?
I was working in Conference and Banqueting at Alton Towers Hotel before I joined and have also worked at hotels up and down the country. Everyone in the team has always been so helpful. For me it’s all about the people and despite being here for two years I still feel very new. There are so many departments to get to know, which is great fun, but it’s a big place that takes a little while to fully discover.

What is a successful day for you?
A happy client and a smooth-running event! Getting all requirements achieved on time and exceeding expectations marks a successful day for me. If delegates and clients are pleased then it’s been an effective day. Sometimes you have a curve ball thrown at you or a tiny hiccup to solve, which means you have to be able to think on your feet but we run so many events that we can deal with pretty much nearly everything.

Which events stand out in your memory?
‘Vivid Christmas Parties’ was a really fun and stimulating series of events for us. We had 2,000 guests attending each night for two and a half weeks! We’re used to massive volumes and handle them all the time, but this was so long that it really stands out. It was a monumental time in my life during that period. Our team did so well, it was a great experience to be a part of. Last year we also did our first sit-down dinner for 2,500 guests – we had four kitchens with over 100 chefs and nearly every manager involved and it went really well. It’s always great to see our spaces transformed from big blank halls into amazing themed experiences. Recently we created a family-style Mexican restaurant within one of the halls and produced all sorts of delicious Mexican dishes. 1,000 people attended but it still felt very intimate, which shows how well the space can be used.

What’s the best thing about working for Amadeus?
Every day and every event is different at Amadeus. We strive to provide bespoke events and can handle our clients’ specialist needs – whatever they may be. The things we create and the way we deliver it really is special and unique.

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