Conference, Induction and Awards Manager Claire Clarkson

There isn't a typical day at the office here. Every day I meet fresh challenges and new faces.

As conference, inductions and awards manager, I oversee the running of the small but busy awards department. There are three of us in the department. We plan events that celebrate the recognition and achievements of staff, as well as organise induction programmes that support new employees, and coordinate management conferences which are held throughout the year.

I start at 8:00 each morning and run through my emails. The department is split into three main parts so the enquiries I receive can vary considerably — anything from orders for new name badges to enquiries about future events. It’s not just basic admin work either. I have a small team to manage and budgets to maintain.

At the moment I am working on the planning of the Celebration of Service, which recognises long servicing staff and retirees. There’s a lot involved in arranging events like this. We have to establish who is eligible for recognition, arrange for medals to be made and programmes to be printed. 

A line-up of speakers and presenters must be confirmed as well as the venue and catering. Guest lists are drawn up and invitations are sent out. Then there is a flurry of activity as the replies come back and plans are put into place.

With events it can be stressful having to get everything arranged on time. We can work for weeks on one event that will only last an hour and there's always the worry that it won't come together. Sometimes I am handed presentations five minutes before they are due to be presented, but it is this uncertainty that makes it all the more worthwhile. I have to be constantly alert and aware and be ready to pre-empt things that could go wrong. In the end it's a great feeling seeing our hard work connect on the night.

Commendation events like this are an important part of our organisation. It is essential to show our appreciation to staff and acknowledge their work and commitment. Things like this help to keep spirits high.    

Next week a member of the team will be facilitating an induction. This is a two-day event for all new staff to gain a deeper understanding of the Service; its aims, values and visions for the future. For many people this is their very first day with us and is the first real impression that they get.

After school I wasn't sure what I wanted to do so I enrolled on to a secretarial course which helped me to secure a job at the London Ambulance Service in a general administrative type role. From there I worked my way up — that is one of the great things about working for the Service, there is scope and opportunity for career progression.

Diplomacy, understanding and an outgoing nature are all vital to this role; you have to be capable of dealing with different people, be prepared to answer enquiries and not scared to speak to people on the phone. As well as this you need good organisational skills and the ability to work on your own initiative, plus a friendly smile.

There's no substitute for the friends and colleagues you meet here, and I occasionally speak to staff in other ambulance services doing a similar role and it is surprising what you can learn from others, as long as you are willing to ask.

Claire Clarkson is based at headquarters in Waterloo.

If you are interested in a support role, check our current vacancies page to see if we are recruiting.