Emily’s experience of Radley goes right back to her first swimming lesson! She is now a manager in both the Sports Centre and the Commercial Enterprises Team. We asked Emily to take us back to those first visits.
I grew up in Kennington and went to St Swithun’s Primary School, so we used the College pool for our swimming lessons. My dad has been a member of the gym since it first opened – he’s actually one of our longest-standing members. When I was old enough I used to come with him to circuits classes in the Sports Centre and then decided to train as a lifeguard, so I started working at the Sports Centre as soon as I qualified when I was 16.
After that I became a Duty Manager and stayed until I went to Bournemouth University to study fashion design.
How did your interest in fashion begin?
I received a sewing machine for Christmas one year – I always enjoyed making clothes and I went on to do textiles at school. As part of my degree we were lucky enough to collaborate on a runway show with some of the team from Vivienne Westwood. That was an amazing experience, but it made me question whether this was really what I wanted to do when I graduated. I found it hard to design to someone else’s vision and felt more comfortable creating my own designs. I won a couple of competitions; one was to create TikTok merchandise and the other was working for a vegan footwear company – a pair of shoes that I designed went into production, which was brilliant.
I still get to use my art and design skills now through managing the social media and advertising for the Sports Centre, assisted by Robyn Swain, the Sports Centre Operations Administrator. I also produce an annual booklet for the Commercial Enterprises team.
Tell us about your return to Radley.
I graduated during lockdown which made finding a job very tricky. The Sports Centre was advertising for staff so I took on the Fitness Manager role which meant I ran fitness classes as well as overseeing the membership side of the Leisure Club. I was keen to develop the Leisure Club brand, add new classes and streamline the number of different membership options on offer so with this in mind I was promoted to Leisure Club Manager in 2021.
Les Newell had been offered the role of Head of Commercial Enterprises in September 2021 and envisioned the team as having an overlap with the Sports Centre. Caitlin Baker was Commercial Operations Manager and I joined the team shortly after.
What does your day-to-day job entail?
My job is split between the Sports Centre and the Commercial Team and I teach at least one or two classes every day – FIT, Bodyburn and Circuits. I work with the rest of the team to keep the classes fresh and fun. Our Circuits classes have 55 stations so I work with Harry (Gillett) to think of 55 things for people to do! The classes are for all standards of ability so we want to make sure everyone can manage each station and adapt it for their level of fitness. I also oversee the Leisure Club which has a membership of 800.
The other part of my job, working with Les and Caitlin, is planning all the commercial lets at the College outside term time. This involves a lot of planning meetings and spreadsheets! We’re a very hands-on team and try to react quickly to needs and requests when we have clients onsite.
What changes have you seen in your time here?
Membership is a lot easier to manage now – when I first joined there were two huge folders jam-packed with all the members’ forms, so if you needed to find one it would take you forever and people would moan at me for putting them back in the wrong place!
Can you pick a highlight?
It would have to be the European Transplant & Dialysis Games last summer. All the hard work over the months prior were worth it when I look back on what a fantastic week it was. I feel it showed Radley at its best – we hosted more than 600 athletes from 26 countries. The athletes had undergone life-changing transplant surgery so to see them running around the track when they might not have been able to walk a couple of years previously was incredible.
What makes Radley a special place to work?
I’m always amazed at how friendly people are around the site – everyone makes an effort to say hello. Since working in the Commercial Enterprises team, I interact with so many departments and have a much better understanding now of what different departments do, I really feel a part of the College community.
What might we find you doing away from work?
I love shopping, going to the gym and interior design. I still do a lot of sewing, particularly making baby clothes for friends and family. I have two dogs who keep me busy, and that’s one of my favourite things about working here – the dogs of Radley! Bumping into dogs around the campus adds to the feeling of community here.