Countdown to 30: An interview with the BDC's Georgina Forester
In October 2016 the Business Design Centre will be celebrating its 30th birthday. In a countdown to this great milestone we will be interviewing colleagues, tenants, suppliers and friends of the BDC in our monthly blog feature ‘Countdown to 30’. This month we are featuring one of our longest standing members of staff, Georgina Forester who has experienced some of the best events the venue has ever seen. Find out in Georgina’s interview below, what it’s been like to see the BDC evolve through the years…
How long have you been working at the BDC?
“I started at the Business Design Centre 6 months after the building opened for business in 1986 so 2016 will be my 29th year. Initially I applied for a position in Customer Services however when I was due to commence my employment a vacancy arose on the front desk for a Receptionist and this is where I started my time at the venue. After working on Reception for 2 ½ years I moved into the Operations Department, now known as Venue Services, as the Office Manager and from there went on to become PA to the General Manager and then progressed into Project Management.”
What’s the best event you have worked on/seen in your years here?
“There have been some amazing events held at the Business Design Centre over the time I have been here, the ones that come to mind for me are The Kirov Ballet, The Bafta’s, Maclarens Xmas Party, CBI Conference and in 2012 the Business Design Centre became the Czech House for the duration of the Olympics. I was lucky enough to support the Project Manager on both the Bafta’s and Mclarens Christmas Party and Project Managed the CBI Conference and also the Czech House. Some of these events were more eventful than others. During the CBI Conference just before Tony Blair was due to take to the stage two Greenpeace protestors managed to climb into the roof and disrupt the conference by throwing confetti on the delegates below. Tony Blair then had to be moved to another hall within the venue to make his speech. Moving all the press and cameras was a very challenging task for all the team.
Taking into account all the events I have worked on and seen at the venue the Czech House has to be the most exciting one for me, not only because I project managed the event but because the venue looked spectacular both inside and out and for the Business Design Centre to be part of such a huge event in London was an amazing experience.”
How has the venue changed since you started?
“The venue has changed considerably since I started back in 1987. The obvious changes would be the construction of the Hilton Hotel formally known as the Stakis London Islington at the front of the building and then the Gallery Hall and extension to the Loading Bay construction following in 1998/1999.
The Business Design Centre is far busier now than it was when I started when we had a smaller team of both electricians and stand fitters servicing all the shows.”
What’s it like to work at the BDC?
“I think the fact that I have worked at the Business Design Centre for the past 29 years speaks for itself. The Business Design Centre is a very family orientated company and those that work here remain at the venue for many years. With the amount and variety of events held here throughout the years it makes for a vibrant and exciting place to work.”
What are your favourite memories of the BDC and the surrounding area?
“I grew up in Islington and I remember when I was young walking past the Business Design Centre and wondering what the venue would become. I remember watching the programme The Professionals (not all of you will remember this programme) where in one episode they filmed a car chase from Liverpool Road into what is now the back of the venue and across the ground floor and from this you could see how derelict the venue had become but what an amazing space it was.
The building remained derelict for many years and it was rumoured that it would be turned into a fun fair (an article in the Islington Gazette) and on some research that Suggs from Madness had expressed an interest in turning the venue into a music hall, however the local residents objected to this option. It was after this time that Sam Morris bought the venue and turned it into the Business Design Centre with the very first show being Design Sunday.”
You were part of the BDC Cycle Team in 2014. How was it cycling from Angel to Angel?
“This probably was the most challenging event I have taken part in. It was far tougher than I could ever have imagined and I ached at the end of the day in places that I didn’t think were possible. That said I am glad I was involved and helped to raise over £30,000.00 for the local charity, Islington Giving. I was very proud of myself and the team for what we accomplished.”
What can you see for the future of the BDC?
“If it’s possible I can see the venue getting busier over the next few years. It would be great to see the space used differently so not just for exhibitions but being used for more Christmas parties and banquets as it has been a while since we held so many of these.”
Come back and find out more in our Countdown to 30 series next month when we will be interviewing another member of the extended BDC family.
Posted by Kate.