Nicola is a UK national with over 25 years of working experience. She was educated in Lisbon, Portugal, and returned to the UK to gain her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Studies at Bournemouth University. Since then, she has enjoyed a varied and globe-spanning career. The telemarketing industry was the platform for Nicola’s first career step in 1992, where she started in a senior support role for the GM of Lloyds Bank Insurance Direct, a newly established company at that time.
Nicola’s love of travelling and exploring cultures led her to join Princess Cruises in 1994. Her position as Junior Assistant Purser gave her exposure to a range of hotel-based functions, including Food and Beverage, Front Desk, and Shore Excursions for cruise passengers. Her key administrative experience was soon recognised, and she held the position of Technical Secretary to a number of senior personnel, including the Captain, Chief Engineer, and Ship’s Doctor. This further widened her administration skills, and helped develop her managerial capabilities. She had key responsibilities for confidential correspondence, taking minutes of meetings, scheduling inspections, and preparing technical, medical, and legal reports.
In 1997, Nicola moved back to Lisbon, where she taught English to adults through a mixture of formal classes, conversation groups, informal activities, and organizing English speaking social evenings. Her students included politicians, television presenters, models, and senior business people. These activities resulted in her being asked to proofread documents, presentations, and reports, as well as undertaking translation work. Translation work included a book of poetry collected from the former Portuguese colonies, as well as translating the Mozambique Air Lines in-flight magazine.
Returning to the UK in 1998, Nicola spent a year working for a charity, handling fundraising applications and events, as well as book-keeping, recruitment and legal compliance issues.
In 1999, she took on a new challenge setting up an internet holiday company with a business partner. Starting with one website, the business expanded rapidly to incorporate several other websites. Every aspect of developing a successful business was handled in-house, including staff recruitment, training, target setting and appraisals, negotiating sales contracts, press releases, advertising, administration, invoicing, continual website checking, development and evaluation, competitor monitoring, and third party supplier negotiations. Within four years, the business employed fourteen full-time staff with a turnover exceeding GBP 3.5 million ($US 5.5 million). In this role, Nicola trained staff in areas such as telephone etiquette and sales, product knowledge, customer service, professional writing skills, and client and supplier relationship building.
In 2003, she sold her share of the business and returned to the hospitality industry, with the luxury brand Crystal Cruises. Her role in Ship Operations encompassed all Deck and Engine Departments’ administration, including planning and taking meetings of minutes; documenting crew disciplinary hearings, dealing with guest complaints, maintaining the ship’s safety documentation manuals, planning and coordination of departmental training, leave schedules, and liaising with head office and shore-based authorities.
In 2005, Nicola was approached for an unusual position in the Middle East, working as Personal Assistant to a prominent Omani V.I.P. The role carried responsibility for all areas of his non-political life, including attending business meetings, dealing with personal financial matters, recruitment, discipline and payment of household and office staff, family holiday arrangements, the purchase, maintenance, refurbishment and sale of family properties in various countries, and event management for functions for up to 800 people.
Nicola was also responsible for the core training of the staff in communication skills, organizational skills, household duties, and teambuilding. This was carried out through workshops conducted for small informal groups.
Marriage led to her relocation to Qatar in 2007, where Nicola joined the pre-opening team at W Doha Hotel and Residences, a 5-star brand, new to the Middle East and part of the Starwood Hotel Group. Initially working as Executive Assistant to the General Manager, she quickly moved to join the Talent Resources Team, as Assistant Director of Talent Resources in charge of Training. These two demanding roles involved all aspects of setting up the hotel’s HR and Training Department, as well as creating the core structure and layout of the hotel, including writing Standard Operating Procedures, establishing HR and Training policies and procedures, compiling the staff handbook, negotiating with key suppliers, sourcing and furnishing staff accommodation, planning and carrying out worldwide recruitment for over 500 staff, handling staff grievance and disciplinary issues, and ensuring adherence to correct procedures. The training aspect of the role involved devising and executing the induction and training plan for more than 500 incoming staff, over a six month period. This included: facilitating training sessions, identification of ongoing training needs to ensure implementation of service standards, creating realistic simulation exercises, and the development of in-house facilitators. This development of in-house trainers involved monitoring, coaching, and giving one-to-one feedback. Nicola also had key responsibility for preparation of the annual training budget.
Nicola’s broad background and experience gives a wealth of practical knowledge to draw on in the training room, ensuring she delivers training with very practical and positive business outcomes.
In 2010, Nicola joined Spearhead Training as a Senior Management Associate in Qatar. Her warm approach with delegates creates enthusiasm and motivation for the learning experience. She strives to always exceed the expectations of the delegate and the client at every stage.
In 2015, Nicola attended an ILM Assessor & Internal Quality Assurance Workshop conducted by ILM (City & Guilds), to assist her in delivering the ILM Endorsed and Accredited courses that are now being offered by Spearhead Training.
Nicola’s key areas of expertise include: