A Friday Chat With Searcys General Manager at Inner Temple, Vicky Portinari4 March 2021
Endlessly positive and energetic to be around, Vicky Portinari has been at the Inner Temple for a staggering 28 years. As General Manager, she’s been hands-on throughout the pandemic, getting things ready for a dramatic venue re-opening in September 2021.
Vicky, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Wow, where did the time go! I started as the Deputy Manager at the Inner Temple 28 years ago and was promoted in 2007 to General Manager. Before that I worked in catering all over the country at events such as Silverstone, Henley Regatta and Cowes Week, looking after royalty and VIPs.
I found my love of banqueting at the Royal Westminster Thistle Hotel in Victoria during my one-year placement from college. The team spirit in creating an event from start to finish was like being in a theatre production – except you only have one chance to get the performance right! I believe if you have an enthusiastic team all working to the same high standards as we do, you can deliver amazing experiences for our guests.
At the Inner Temple, there are always new challenges that keep everything interesting. Some highlights have been becoming the Belgian House for the Olympics, hosting the World Bar Conference, and welcoming the Queen and the Royal Charter’s rededication in 2008, where we put up a marquee and hosted a reception for 1,200 guests. We are now facing our biggest challenge yet; opening the building with two new floors after a closure of 28 months.
What drives you?
I am inspired by working with great people and learning from their creativity and expertise. I have been in the same venue for a long time so you can become set in your ways.
If you stay open to new ideas and ways to improve things, it can only be positive for the team and guests. I believe change is normal and that if you follow the mantra of “treat other people as you wish to be treated,” then you can’t go far wrong in creating a great working environment. Let’s face it, we all spend far too much time at work so we should enjoy it!
What I love most about my job is providing lots of wonderful events, meals and drinks that make special memories for our guests, and the team then receiving positive feedback for all their hard work.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have been fortunate to work throughout lockdown, planning for the re-opening of the Inner Temple in September 2021. We are starting to recruit our team and are selling our events space. Our venue is still a building site, and we will not get access until July 2021, so to promote our wonderful new facilities, we have created a CGI video www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulDy0s1YlmU which we are really proud of, so do take a look.
The Inner Temple has created two new floors on the building, so we now have a third floor with a purpose-built lecture theatre with state-of-the-art AV, for 120 guests with dedicated breakout space.
Our fourth floor will have amazing views of the River Thames and all the wonderful iconic sights along with it with a viewing balcony. There will be 8 meeting rooms and another breakout space for 120 guests. Four of the meeting rooms have interconnecting walls, so we will be able to host small lectures for up to 54, and dinners for up to 28 guests.
Meanwhile, we have also had other projects going on, and we have completely refurbished the Pegasus Bar, which has gone from a 24-seater restaurant to 36 seats, not to mention an extended area on the terrace.
In January, the Inner Temple also gave us a two-bedroom flat that we are converting into two individual en-suite bedrooms. We’re going to hire these out alongside our other two bedrooms Boswell and Chaucer, https://innertemplevenuehire.co.uk/bedrooms/. They are available to anyone and we often hire them to clients hosting events with us.
All in all, 2020 was a challenging year for hospitality, but we are looking forward to a far more positive 2021 and to working with great colleagues and clients again!