Turning a good idea into an Official Opening

Katie Binnion, TAEFL

The chances are that you have read the piece in our latest newsletter or on the website about the Official Opening of our offices in Aston on 21 July. What that news feature does not talk about, however, is all the work leading up to the ceremony itself.

I’d like to tell you all about it, because it was my job to bring the whole event together as the TAEFL Apprentice. Here’s how it happened.

It all seemed a good idea at the time . . .

Mark Runiewicz, the CEO of TAEFL, sat down with me and a blank sheet of paper. He knew he wanted an office opening and had pencilled in a possible date with Professor George Feiger, Executive Dean of Aston Business School, an organisation with which our company has a growing relationship.

But Mark was not sure what we would need. He listed a few points, then walked off. I decided that this would be a great opportunity to prove myself.

There was another consideration. As part of my Business Administration Diploma at Birmingham Metropolitan College I have to organise an ‘event’. What could be a better case study than putting on the Grand Opening for TAEFL?

I took it upon myself to make this office opening happen. Having mapped out how the event would probably build up, I called some close contacts of mine and, within 24 hours, we had organised a polished bronze engraved plaque. Grand Openings always need ribbon to cut, and so we had soon sourced lengths of ribbon in the TAEFL orange colour. We were on our way!

After this I began to research ‘office opening’ on the Web for inspiration and created a rather large to-do list.

No event without guests

Compiling a list of people to invite was not easy as we wanted a good mix of our clients, introducers and partners. Mark wanted to keep the number of guests down to around thirty in order to keep the event (relatively) low key and tasteful. Once a list had been assembled, I was able to send invites through our mail merge program and then wait for the responses to flood in. Or not. To my surprise, within an hour of sending the invites we had a number of responses which were tracked on our database.

Once invites had been dealt with and responses monitored, the next item on the to-do list was to sort out some food for the guests!

By this stage, we had the main things checked off the list – the Guest of Honour, the plaque, ribbon, invites, and the vitally important food.

There were then a hectic few days leading up to the event where a lot of small things flew into mind – name badges, agendas, staff roles, table layout . . . . The list went on. It seemed a large task and I received a lot of help from my team. It was all hands on deck for TAEFL.

“A Grand Day Out”, as Wallace would say

The day itself went very smoothly thanks to the hard work of everyone involved at TAEFL. There were no hiccups, I’m delighted to report.

Food, drink and conversation were flowing and a we had a good turnout. We may have over-ordered ever so slightly on the food front, but I think those who attended will agree that it was tasty. (The TAEFL team had their lunch sorted out for the rest of that week!)

Professor George Feiger gave a wonderful and modest speech, and cut our orange ribbon. He went on to reveal the plaque, which had been kindly donated by Kevin Binnion, a Director of St Pauls Mint.

Since the opening, we have had positive feedback through email and telephone, for which we are very grateful. We are so pleased with how the whole event went and would like to thank everyone who attended for making our opening special.

We would also like to thank Professor Feiger for opening the office with such aplomb. And Jo Haydon of Complete Kidz CIC who made an inspiring speech – the event would not have been the same without you.

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