Sarah Dietrich, Business Development Manager at Warwick Conferences, The University of Warwick talks to us about her career in the HE sector.
Hi! What’s your name, role and University?
My name is Sarah Dietrich. I am a business development manager here at the University of Warwick and I work for Warwick Conferences.
Could you please tell me a bit about your role at the University?
I’m a business development manager, and my role primarily consists of getting new business into the University, so new corporate companies coming to use our conference facilities here at the University of Warwick. We have five venues in total, so I’m responsible for getting business into those venues and growing existing business that comes to the University for their conference and events.
How did you come to work in higher education and please could you tell me a bit about your career background?
I always wanted to be in the hospitality industry. I originally wanted to be a stewardess and got a job with Airtours. However, I didn’t take it. Back then you had to be five foot two and I didn’t quite make it.
I found myself working for a company called Coventry and Warwickshire promotions, which then led me onto work for a conference agency, which placed businesses into hotels and at the University. So, a job came up at the University of Warwick as an event manager and I fancied working in a different area within hospitality.
I applied for the job and I started in 2001 as an event manager. I then progressed to a sales manager, primarily looking after the conference park, which is the largest facility here at the university and stayed there, in that capacity for many years.
Please highlight the stand-out development opportunities you’ve had, for example, training, projects, events and conferences, support and, most importantly, what that means to you?
Within Warwick Conferences there are five venues that we look after here. I was primarily an event manager, then moved to sales. I did leave then to have a family and then had the opportunity to come back to cover my colleague’s role as a business development manager. So, that was something that I hadn’t done before.
It was really exciting for me to come back and interview and be able to get that role as a business development manager and I think what helped me is, I’d been here primarily before, so I knew very much about Warwick Conferences and the product and, and how it worked. So, it enabled me to get back into Warwick University as a business development manager.
That was three and a half years ago. I came to do a return, to come for a year and then ended up staying on and I haven’t left. It’s been an amazing role. I really love it. It’s quite diverse – no two days are the same.
I get to really push myself outside my comfort zone, go out to do exhibitions, show around the facilities, and try and bring new pieces of business into the university. I think the lovely thing about the university is that anything surplus we make here gets reinvested back into the university for research and development. So, that’s a really lovely feeling as part of my role, knowing that I’m contributing back to the University.
This interview was conducted before the Coronavirus Pandemic. Working arrangements on university campuses may have changed due to social distancing measures.