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From Dublin to London: how a chance decision launched Jennifer McDonald’s Regus career
When Jennifer McDonald packed her bags for a short trip across the Irish Sea to see a friend, little did she realise it would turn out to be a life-changing decision.
“I’m originally from Dublin,” she says. “I moved to London on a whim four years ago. I only came to visit a friend and three weeks later I was here and landed a career at Regus!”
That decision turned out to be a great move for McDonald. After starting with Regus just three years ago, her career has seen her rise to the position of Community Manager at London’s St Mary’s Axe, aka the ‘Gherkin’ – one of the City’s most famous buildings. “It was a bit random, but it’s worked out well,” she says.
For McDonald, it was clear from shortly after leaving university that she wanted to work in a customer-facing role. Fixing problems, getting to know people and building lasting professional relationships are all things she says she values highly in her job.
“I have a degree in Irish language and geography and never put that to any use at all, I sort of fell into retail after university,” she says. “I fell in love with retail and being around people. When I came over here, I realised it maybe wasn’t shops I wanted to work in but something customer-facing. I was told about this company that did serviced offices and I applied. It turned out to be much more than I expected, but in a good way!”
Working at one of Regus’s most prestigious sites in the City of London was always going to be a challenge, but it’s an enjoyable one, says McDonald, with the chance to establish longer-lasting customer relationships than might otherwise be unavailable in retail.
“You’re looking after not just people but the building, too,” she says. “In retail you get to meet people for about half an hour, but here you get to know people really well. They’re all from different backgrounds so there’s a great variety of people to work with and to get to know.”
One of the major factors driving the serviced office industry is the demand for flexible working opportunities, and this is something McDonald says Regus offers her and her colleagues. “You constantly get the chance to work in different buildings,” she says. “There’s so many people moving around the company, if you want to go somewhere just put in your interest. One of my former colleagues is currently managing one of the biggest buildings we have in Paris, so the opportunities are there.”
Choosing specific management styles to suit the needs of different customers can be interesting as a Community Manager, she says. “Adapting your style to each client is a challenge. Some want support – they want that bit of extra hand-holding, but some just want to be left alone. It’s knowing and understanding what works for different people.”
But what are the secrets to establishing a successful, flexible office space? “Definitely the most important thing is tailoring your service, but also getting people to talk to each other,” she says. “We’ve got 73 offices here, but they’re often now working together, making contacts and giving each other business. It’s quite cool that you can help them to help each other in that way.”
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