Conference News September 2021 - Page 17

17 Fast Forward 15


Martin Fullard talks to Katie Garrahy , head of sales at Roomzzz Aparthotels , who has recently completed the Fast Forward 15 mentorship programme .
atie Garrahy is the head of sales at Roomzzz Aparthotels , and by virtue of the fact that she has recently completed the Fast Forward 15 mentorship programme , one would assume it was all part of the plan . But , as is so often the case , her journey to where she is now has been forged by many twists and turns .
Garrahy studied politics at Nottingham University with the intention to moving into local government , but before she knew it , she found herself drawn to the hotel sector .
“ I was working in serviced offices , and a hotel company was based there before it opened a Manchester property ,” she tells me . “ I took a job there and started as a sales executive and then rose to sales manager , before moving to London to be its national account manager .”
A successful six-year career followed , but after a takeover Garrahy and her colleagues were made redundant , which led her to De Vere , for whom she managed its London portfolio , which in turn led to a five-year stint at another hotel .
Yet there was to be another twist , which fundamentally led to Garrahy applying for the Fast Forward 15 programme . “ While I was having my second baby , there was a restructure and I was again made redundant ,” she says . “ For
me , that was probably one of the toughest times of my whole life . I ’ ve just been made redundant , shortly after I had my second baby . It ’ s a weird time for women and families anyway , without a redundancy thrown into the mix .”
But there was no time to hang around : Garrahy was quickly snapped up by Roomzzz Aparthotels , and that , she says , was when she applied to Fast Forward 15 .
“ It just gave me the confidence to get back out there and , you know , fulfil the potential that I had ,” she says . “ Because at that point [ before starting with Roomzzz ], I was like , well , maybe I should give it all up . Maybe just give everything up and do a stay-at-home job or go back to being a sales executive or something . But that ’ s not really what I wanted . I felt like there were no options , but then the amazing opportunity at Roomzzz came up , and the rest is history .”
Being a mentee
I ask Garrahy about being a Fast Forward 15 mentee , and how her mentor , Jane Culcheth Beard , helped her .
“ I always think that everyone is better than me . And everybody ’ s doing so much better than for me . I ’ ve got high standards for what I want to achieve , and what I do . And I always felt like I was falling short of that ,” she says . “ Jane taught me that everyone is on a journey , that
“ I always think that everyone is better than me . Jane taught me that everyone is on a journey , that no one ’ s got it all sorted .”
Katie Garrahy
no one ’ s got it all sorted : and that ’ s how I viewed people . She gave me a reality check .”
Garrahy adds that she was taught that we are always learning , and we never reach a point where everything tapers to a point of greatness .
Would she be a mentor herself in the future ? “ I would love to be , definitely ,” she says with a smile . “ I think I ’ m getting there . I had a real problem with my confidence . So , that ’ s improved over the past couple of years . I think I just need ‘ work on you ’ first , before you can give to other people .”
Garrahy ends on a Churchillian note : “ Failure is not fatal , and success is not final ,” she says .
She ’ s right , too . Anyone who finds themselves redundant after giving birth but bounces back into a senior position for a respected chain and then finds themselves on the Fast Forward 15 programme is walking a path to success . CN
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