As One Door Closes, Another Opens. But You Need to Have Confidence and Find That Door

12th July 2019, I was hurtling round Silverstone Motor Circuit in an Aston Martin at 150mph. 12th July 2020 and I was in more sedate environment and 12 days into a scary, yet exciting new venture. What a difference 12 months make, eh?! I was just over 3 months into a maternity cover promotional role at Hilton and working at the British F1 GP in 2019 and hadn’t even considered how my life might change in the next 12 months. Taking that role was a risk…I knew that…but I had seen plenty of great people before me take on 12-month secondments or 12-month maternity covers and then have something great at the end of it. Not for one moment though did I assume that I would be guaranteed a role come May 2020 when the maternity cover ended. But I was confident in my own ability and had a good presence amongst senior leadership. I thought that would count for something. And it did. Over the next few months, I settled into the role more, continued to develop great ongoing relationships in the world of F1 and Golf and sailed into 2020 with excitement and vigour about potential new sporting opportunities that could present themselves in the forthcoming months.

Then along came something called Coronavirus.

I remember taking part in a sales activity with a couple of colleagues in one of the Heathrow Hotels. It was around late January/early February this year and one of them mentioned this virus that was going to come over to Europe in a big way. I totally downplayed it as over the top melodrama. How wrong I was.

The plight of Covid-19 and its effects continue to shake up the world of hospitality to this day. Not a day goes by on LinkedIn where I don’t see the unfortunate status update of an ex-colleague or someone else in the industry, losing their job because of how the pandemic has re-shaped the world we live in. It’s truly heart-breaking to know that great people are potentially have to make life shaping decisions about what they do next, forced upon them through no fault of their own. And no fault of the companies making those tough decisions it must be said. I certainly have no ill feelings towards my old employers who gave me over 10 years of wonderful experiences, great learning and amazing colleagues.

The furlough period between early April and the end of June afforded me some great thinking time. Pragmatically, I was happy to spend 3 months with my young son and watch him grow and develop. What a once in a lifetime (hopefully, no second spikes and all that) opportunity that was to spend with family. It also gave me the opportunity to pre-empt my next career move should the worst happen and I was to leave a company I loved. Tough decisions have had to be made to ensure the long term viability of the business.

When I got the dreaded call on the 15th June this year, I then had to commit to my next move which I had thought about for a while. I’ve always dreamed of running my own business. I could go and work for another hotel chain or hotel management company, sure, but they could be making redundancies as well right? So, I made the decision to go it alone and set up Haythorn Sports & Events. Name, logo, branding, launch, social media, investment, operations, clients, contacts, accountancy, lack of company car (a real bitter pill this one) and website design were all now top of my to do list as well as ‘continue to watch little man grow and develop’.

My god is it scary though. Whilst I’m confident I’ve navigated the first couple of months in a good manner and the business has started well, I think it’s only done that because I’ve sought a positive outcome from a bad situation.

I cannot really give any words of advice to anyone on how to run a business…heck, Haythorn Sports & Events is only 58 days old. But what I can do is tell those that are faced with an uncertain future to be bold, be brave and don’t wait for your next opportunity to come and find you. Whether it’s a job in the same industry, a job in a different industry, setting up on your own or volunteering…grab this massive Covid-infected bull by the horns and take control. There’s tooooo many great people I see on LinkedIn who are now out of a job. I don’t consider myself lucky because I’ve now got a job of my own and funding to keep me going for a few months until the real pennies start to come in. I consider myself fortunate that I’ve been able to do something I’ve wanted to always do…be my own boss doing something I love.

Think about what you love and what you do best. However the world recovers from this massive shake-down, I truly believe there’s roles for all of us to do something great. Words are easy to say, I get that. But this could be the beginning of a great surge of entrepreneurial talents starting to blossom. 12 months on from speeding round Silverstone on that July day in 2019, I couldn’t have imagined I now be doing this.

I cannot tell you how great it feels to be doing this though. Sure, there’ll be knockbacks on the way….people have turned down my approaches to work with them etc. But in true British grit, we get up, dust ourselves down and march on with even greater purpose.

Good luck to anyone in this situation. I know things will work out well for you if you’re bold, brave and grab the bull by the horns.

And I’m always available for a chat if needs be.

Until next time,


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