Lorraine Rossdale, as Head of Event Management and Marketing at Westminster Abbey, has just played a crucial role in the recent coronation of the King and Queen held at Westminster Abbey, on 6 May 2023. A role that, with so many people around the world watching and such huge expectation surrounding such an historic occasion, was a colossal task.
Prior to overseeing such a prestigious world event, Lorraine forged a career overseeing major heritage sites – including a role with Historic Royal Palaces. It is here that she honed her skills in event management, and she was able to obtain a rare depth of experience and a knowledge base of high value – all of which contributed to her seamless ability to oversee an event of the magnitude of the Coronation.
Originally, Lorraine started working within the industry whilst she was living in Spain, where she would organise after show parties for various musical artists. After this she returned to London, co-ordinating events at the Atlantic Bar and Grill before a career change to work at Kensington Palace. It was at Kensington Palace Lorraine was able to hone her skills when it came to setting strategies and managing logistics for large events. She also mentioned, during our interview, that between working at Kensington Palace and working at the Abbey she grew an appreciation for the integration of protocols and tradition, whilst attempting to move in new and exciting directions.
Prior to moving to the Abbey from Kensington Palace, Lorraine decided to study for her MBA, at the Open University, whilst still working full time and raising her daughter. When asked why she felt the need to obtain formal education in a field she already had so much experience in she mentioned the feeling she experienced that there was a “ceiling” in place when she was trying to further her career and obtain the top jobs. Getting an MBA has acted as an adjunct to her experience and has allowed others to trust in her knowledge and abilities. When asked if this was challenging, juggling both education and her career, she confessed that whilst at times it was challenging and meant sacrificing work life balance, she has always been naturally self-motivated. She also found that returning to learning gave her new skills she could transfer to her career. Lorraine mentions that in many job descriptions she was finding that an MBA was a preferred qualification and perhaps a contributing factor to her being offered her current role at Westminster Abbey. Is this an example of how our industry still values formal education and instils trust in the ability of individuals who have only receive high level tertiary education?
When working to bring new ideas to historic venues like Westminster Abbey, Lorraine mentioned the challenges of charting a new direction, often surrounded by traditional perspectives. She mentions how “the process of change often takes time” something which is difficult for a woman with visionary ideals. It is this understanding, that change requires the ability not to be afraid of pushing in a new direction, whilst remembering the need to occasionally “jump through some hoops” that has held her in good stead throughout her career. This philosophy has allowed her to bring new and exciting concepts to the Abbey, like film showings, which she mentioned she had to push for many years and are now a huge success.
When asked about any time she experienced failure or challenge Lorraine reinforces her belief that with a good supporting team and enough preparation, she has been able to escape any major issues. In fact, it’s her belief in the importance of the people she manages and her surrounding team, which demonstrates her natural leadership prowess. Lorraine added that her belief regarding anyone she mentors or works with is that she hopes they feel supported and developed and she jokes that she “wants people to move on”, mentioning that she always feels progression to future jobs is necessary and right for personal and professional development. Lorraine is always wanting to instil a sense of self-worth in her team as well as recognition that people have valued input.
Lorraine Rossdale clearly exemplifies the belief that when we place trust in our employees, they can excel in their chosen fields and that supporting individuals has clear benefits for everyone in the workplace. Clearly, when we value and nurture talent, success is assured.
Written by Lexie Cook, EP Business in Hospitality