Karen Hutchings

The incredible Karen Hutchings, Global Head of Travel Meetings & Events at EY is my mentor and I couldn’t think of a better person to be Shero of the month! Always a constant support providing insight and guidance as I navigate my goals and career, and a huge inspiration to me!

Tell us about yourself and your career to date?

So I have been in the travel, meetings & events industry for more years than I would care to mention starting with an airline, then business travel agency followed by various travel, meetings & events corporate roles with commercial director of a hotel booking and events company thrown in the mix.  The reason why I wanted to work in this area was at a very young age I knew I wanted to see the world and figured being in the travel industry was the way to do that!  Subsequently having worked in the industry for as long as I have what I truly love about it is the variety of topics we get involved with.  Yes we are a service industry however with the challenge for talent, understanding the technologies out there to support the service and digitilize what we do as well as the focus on sustainability means that the role is much more than just event management or getting someone from A – B.

Last December you were inducted into the BTN Business Travel Hall of Fame (huge congrats!), do you think it’s important for corporate event professionals to learn about the business travel side too?

Meetings & Events and Travel are very linked and intertwined.  You ultimately need to travel to get to an event and many of the suppliers are the same or similar so there are leveraging opportunities if you can combine the spend across both categories.  The principles of managing a service are also similar so for me the cross over is a natural progression for event managers and or travel managers to then take on responsibility for both.  Something which I think you will see more and more of in the future.

 You’re a mentor on the programme for a second year, what brought you back?

The key reason for coming back is the fact that I have just really enjoyed mentoring someone (YOU!) who is taking the program seriously.  It seems to me that everyone really wants to get the most out of the mentoring program and so puts the work in, takes on board feedback and then acts on what they have discussed and learnt.  The fact that you have the opportunity to interview and select your mentee is a huge plus as you can select someone that you gel with and can feel alignment with before you have started.  Having had such a wonderful career in the meetings, events & travel industry I really want to do all possible to help and encourage others get that same passion that I have for it, and the mentoring scheme is one way to do that.

 We speak a lot about my goals but I’m curious to know what’s your next long term goal?

Many people know that animals are a huge passion of mine, and I also have a huge love for India so combining the two I really would like to open a dog sanctuary in India.  I know there are many dogs that need help there and it also keeps my connectivity with India long after I have finished travelling for work!

Finally, one bit of advice for young event professionals?

This is not really for young event professionals but for anyone in the earlier stage of their career.  Always say yes – if someone asks you to take on something new say yes.  You may not know how to do it but don’t worry about that as you can learn.  I have never been afraid to take on something new or learn new skills and still stand by that now and continually force myself to learn new things.  It will enable you to grow as your skills expand but also keeps the role interesting which in turn is motivating.