Ever wondered what life is like running a national events tech company? CEO of HeadBox, Ali Lord, explains what a day in her life is like, how she broke into the industry, and what she loves most about her job. Read all about it.
Can you tell us a little bit about your role?
My role changes pretty much every second of the day. I wear multiple hats and for me it’s really important I’m in touch with all areas of the business. As we’re in our first year of operation and the business is growing at a speed we hadn’t anticipated, I want to stay close to all areas to understand what’s working, what needs refining and to help form our growth strategy for 2022 and beyond. My three key priorities within the business are:
Our people and culture – the team I have built around me are truly what makes this business a joy not only to own and run, but also to be a part of. When building this team, I identified the roles we would need alongside the skills that I don’t have and from there sought out the people I wanted to form the team. The first three hires were actually friends and close contacts, which I had nerves about to start with – but it was the best decision as they have all been an immense support to me.
Our finances – spanning all areas of the business, but most importantly our profitability and understanding how we as a business can scale and not get side tracked by elements that don’t contribute to our overall goals. Our growth – all startups have stories of growing pains and finding the balance of not growing so quickly that we jeopardise the product and service we offer, and equally keeping up with competitors and the growing landscape. The first two years of the business will focus on our national expansion which we’ve developed a good strategy for. We’re into our third city launch within eight months!
What is life like at HeadBox? How has it changed over the last year?
It’s a fun, fast-paced and high energy company. We have brilliant products and have developed a model that really works, but it’s hands down the team that make HeadBox successful and a great company to be part of. Within one year, we’ve grown from just one employee to a team of seven. Fast-forward a further 12 months and we’ll be a team of 25-30 people. There were so many unknowns launching amidst a pandemic, but what has remained true is that we have a brilliant product that the Australian events industry needs.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I love running and I’m a morning person, so for me it’s a 6am alarm for a 45-minute run. The day then generally kicks off with team meetings. We start our week with a company ‘All Hands’, where everyone sets their weekly priorities and commitments; this is all about us setting our intentions to the team and keeping each other accountable. I’ve certainly had weeks where I haven’t achieved one or the other, but it’s a great way to understand why I didn’t meet them and what I can do differently for the following week’s priorities and commitments. I love to stay close to our clients, so there’s often a mix of client meetings throughout the day. I’m a big tea drinker (perhaps that’s my six years in London etched into me), so you’ll often see multiple cups of unfinished tea on my desk. The day then generally rounds out with a final check of ‘is there anything vital I need to do?’. I have a bad habit of going to bed and thinking of all the urgent things I didn’t do, so this sense-check often helps me to cover it before bedtime.
How did you get into the industry? Any advice for anyone aspiring to work in the events space?
I knew early on that I wanted to work in events, so whilst I was studying events, I also did endless hours of work experience for various people in the industry. This was invaluable. I saw from the ground up how the industry worked, how experts worked and I got to know the industry lingo. I then had my first events role at Victoria Park, a brilliant venue that is renowned within Brisbane and continues to thrive in the events scene. I would say to anyone wanting to get into the events industry – seek out the company you want to work for, whether that be venue side, agency side or in-house, and ask them if you’re able to do work experience or any junior roles that can help get a foot in the door. This shows incredible ambition and puts you a league above the other 500 people applying for that role.
What do you like most about your team and your job?
The can-do attitude that everyone has to make us a company that is well on its way to meeting our goals, but most importantly the empathy everyone in the team shows for one another. When you’re working in a fast-paced environment it’s important to check-in on each other and offer support through the good times and the bad. I love seeing how far we’ve come in such a short space of time. We launched the business just shy of eight months ago and as a team, we’ve achieved far more in that timeframe than I anticipated. It’s a pretty exciting moment to take stock of that, and also to look ahead to what we can achieve in the next few years. For my role, I love jumping into all areas of the business and seeing what’s working and what we can improve. I am constantly surrounding myself with mentors, industry experts and sounding boards because one thing I’m clear on is I have a lot to learn in running a business, but if I surround myself with all kinds of experts, I will continue to be a better business owner, leader and mentor for my team.
What are your goals for the year ahead?
Personal and professional goals for me are critical. It helps put a marker in the sand and identify what you need to do, implement or change to achieve that goal. Looking at our first year of operation, we set out to launch HeadBox in one region, Sydney. Rounding out the year we will have launched in 3 regions. This is perhaps an indication of how much I challenge myself, but also how brilliant the team is that I have surrounding myself. Looking at the year ahead, we have 3 clear goals as a company, one of which is to continue our national expansion by launching in 3 more regions.
One of my personal goals is to strike a better work life balance. Launching your own business comes with a fair bit of sacrifice and I know I’m future-proofing the business more by having a healthier balance. I’m a preacher for this when it comes to my team, but now I need to take a leaf out of my own book. So for me, a big bucket list item in 2022 is a trip to Namibia with my partner. Stay tuned on Instagram.
Want to know more about HeadBox? Learn everything there is to know about who we are and what makes us one of the top names in the events space on our blog.
1. Who can use HeadBox?
Anyone! Whether you’re a corporate booker looking for a private dining room, meeting room, Christmas or EOFY party venue or you’re a social booker looking for the perfect spot to host your birthday party, hens night or wedding – HeadBox has you covered.
2. What is HeadBox?
HeadBox connects corporate and consumer bookers with venues and suppliers and is the easy way to book, manage and deliver everything in one place. No long searches, no stress, no hidden costs.
3. How do I submit an event brief?
Submitting an event brief is an easy process. Our intuitive brief builder will take you through a series of questions collecting all the necessary details needed to host a great event. We want to know details such as where your event will take place, on what date, how many people are attending, and what your total budget is. Once you submit this information, relevant and available venues will respond to your brief!
4. How long will it take for venues to respond?
Our venues are super quick to respond! You should receive responses or a proposal within 24-48 business hours.
5. What are the top 5 things to consider when choosing a venue?
The cost, the location, style, capacity & catering options.