Paul Colston meets Selina Chavry, one of the fastest tracked leaders in the industry. Her meteoric rise saw her promoted to MD of influential global DMC Pacific World last October.
What was your first career ambition and education path?
I studied business management and marketing after leaving school in Sydney, Australia. While I was growing up I wanted to be one of two things – a lawyer or a window decorator. I suppose, in hindsight, this showed a desire to combine both my academic and creative skills.
At the age of 21 I moved to London where I got my first job in an international conference and events department. I very quickly fell in love with the events world and I have never looked back.
My passion for delivering a memorable experience and my thirst of knowledge for what’s new, combined with my love for travelling the world, is what has continued to drive me throughout my career.
I have also enjoyed building on my educational skills through obtaining a certification in Strategic Meetings Management and I’m currently sitting the CMP (Certified Meeting Professional qualification) along with 25 of my colleagues at Pacific World.
In 2012 I moved to Asia where I started my career at Pacific World. The growth of Asia as a region and the opportunities to interact with a new culture combined with the global scale of Pacific World as a business made this an exciting career move.
I managed Pacific World’s activity in Singapore and Malaysia until February 2015 when I was promoted to oversee all of Pacific World’s activity in Asia. In October 2015, I was then promoted to Global MD.
Leading transformation and innovation is where I have found that I can add the most value and so taking the lead for Pacific World has been an incredibly exciting step for me.
Who was the first major influence on her career and why?
My mother. She was a working mum and, always, from a very young age she taught me to be myself and never be afraid of leading.
She told me that I should always follow my dreams. As a result I have always pushed myself beyond what was comfortable in order to find ways to improve.
I come from a family of great public speakers – both my parents, brother and sister have a natural gift and it was never natural for me so I continue to push myself to do better.
Best early career advice?
It’s all about building and maintaining good working relationships that are built on trust.
First big win contract or career success?
Working on Europe’s largest pharma client through their consolidation with a single meetings agency in 2011 was the first big success in my career.
Biggest lesson learned?
That effective communication can be the success or failure of a situation. Secondary to this I have learned that looking for ways to innovate and constantly driving change is the essential ingredient to staying relevant and, lastly, it is being able to deliver unique experiences that hold the most value to both us as an event organiser and our customers.
Best advice for someone starting out on a similar career path?
In the events industry, knowledge and relationships are the most important factors for success. Whether you’re starting out as an event executive or whether you’re the global managing director, understanding the markets in which you operate is vital.
The events community is a business all about people and as a consequence, building relationships will support you towards raising your profile both internally and externally. This is the key to becoming a valued member of both your own organisation and the wider industry.
How do you relax outside of work?
I really enjoy yoga, boot camp, travelling and spending time with my husband and my one-year-old son Ethan.