A Friday Chat with Business Development Manager at One Moorgate Place, Hannah Barker25 March 2022
In the heart of the City of London, One Moorgate Place is home to the Chartered Accountants’ Hall. The Grade II-listed building dates back to the late 19th century, combining elegant features with contemporary style as they cater for weddings, conferences, parties and more for 600+ guests. This week, we speak with Business Development Manager Hannah Barker, who is constantly seeking out new client opportunities and developing existing ones.
Hi Hannah! Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you start out in the hospitality industry and what do you do now?
I knew from the moment I had my first shift as a waitress in a local family-run restaurant at 14, that I was meant to work in the hospitality industry. The business I worked for from that young age gradually expanded into event catering, and I became an event manager when I left school. I was predominantly looking after weddings and private catering events, and I loved it. When I graduated from university, I knew I wanted to work in the City. I got my first job here at One Moorgate Place as an Event Coordinator. Eight years later, I am the Business Development Manager for the venue, overseeing the sales team and all venue bookings.
What’s something your colleagues might be surprised to know about you?
I’ve worked with my team now for many years, so I’d be surprised if there is much they don’t know about me! That said, a guilty pleasure of mine is an uninterrupted marathon of the extended versions of Lord of the Rings (I’ve succeeded in this at least 3 times!).
What has been the most unexpected part of your job?
I am always surprised that despite working in such a vast and versatile industry with so many people, our networks are so intertwined; I often find that degrees of separation from new clients and colleagues are surprisingly small. Also, I never expected that my step count would be as high as it is every day!
Tell us your three favourite things about the venue or event you work at?
- One Moorgate Place is a very versatile venue; we are lucky enough to have two Grade II-listed rooms, as well ample contemporary meeting spaces, large and small. The juxtapositions across the venue mean that clients get to experience the grandeur of traditional spaces whilst benefitting from the state-of-the-art systems inbuilt in the rooms, sometimes all within one event.
- Because of the venue’s versatility we see a huge portfolio of unique events each year, from private dining, large awards ceremonies, conferencing to parties, filming and wedding. At our venue no day is the same, we are constantly evolving to cater to the changing requirements of tomorrow’s events – it is never boring!
- The team are very close-knit, and we all have a passion for delivering successful and memorable events to our clients. Working within such a great team is my favourite thing about this venue.
What has been a standout event which you have hosted or been part of?
There are so many, but one of my favourites has been the most incredible themed Christmas party. Every year we bring in full Christmas production for the festive season, with one feature being the walkway between our Main Reception Room and The Great Hall. One client picked up that this lent itself to a ‘Narnia’ theme and took their production to the next level! We had thrones, a walk-in wardrobe photobooth, a giant stuffed lion, fur coats and much more. Even the catering was themed, with everyone receiving Turkish delight favours. That one always sticks with me and I hope to see it done again in the future.
Who is your inspiration in business?
I have so many! I have been fortunate to have met and worked with many successful and wonderful people in the industry, each of whom, I’m sure, have imparted a small piece of wisdom to me along the way. But I would say the most inspirational colleague of mine has been the current General Manager for the Searcys team at One Moorgate Place, Richard Davis. I have had the pleasure of working with Richard since 2015, and benefit daily from his years of experience in the industry. He is well respected by clients and colleagues alike, and a fountain of knowledge when it comes to hospitality and events. The only thing he needs to work on are his Dad jokes…!
The best meal ever… where did you have it?
I went to Jamaica back in 2019 and truly it was the best culinary experience of my life so far. I tried ingredients and flavour combinations which I had never encountered before. The standout dish, the one I still speak and think about to this day, was one specific jerk chicken taco. It was served from a street vendor stall and its accompaniments were burnt sweetcorn and a special Jamaican slaw. I hope to get the chance to go back and find that stall again one day!
And what do you enjoy most about One Moorgate Place’s partnership with Searcys?
The Food. Since Searcys joined OMP in 2017 I have had the pleasure of sampling all manner of innovative and exciting dishes. The Searcys team consistently deliver on a high-quality offering which leaves me and our clients with great food memories.
What is your favourite Searcys dish or menu?
We have introduced an eight-course tasting menu specifically for one of our private dining spaces, The OMP Club. I had the absolute pleasure of sampling this menu before just it went live – it was sublime. Not only were the food and wine pairings phenomenal, but the whole menu created a memorable experience I was talking about for days after. I would encourage anybody to come in and check it out – it’s also incredible value for money!
What are you working on at the moment?
Sustainability is a key focus for us going forward at One Moorgate Place, and across the industry in general. As an organisation, we are very proud to be carbon-neutral. Searcys have been a fantastic supporter of our goal. We have recently updated our hospitality and banqueting menu and now have an exclusively sustainable meeting package available, as well as a ‘market menu’ which focuses on local produce and responsible sourcing.
What are your top tips for organisers booking an event at One Moorgate Place, and for event organisers in general?
Make sure you get a chance to try the food, and don’t be afraid to take a punt on something new! Also, it’s a competitive market out there so don’t be afraid to mix things up. As a venue we are always keeping an eye out for the latest trends, whether that be in catering, AV or any other event production. I would encourage all event organisers to follow colleagues in the industry on social media platforms to keep up with these developments. Event planners are highly organised and incredibly resilient, often dealing with fast-paced changes within the hospitality industry, as demonstrated by the last two years. My advice is to make sure you look after yourself in the run up to and on the day of your event (including sampling the food).
Searcys is celebrating its 175th birthday this year. What would you like to wish our teams and colleagues?
A well-deserved congratulations to the whole Searcys team! And here’s to the next 175 years!!!