Celebrate International Women’s Day

Our Director Charlene shares her customer service experience

Hi everyone. My name is Charlene Hutsebaut.

Some of you may already know me from our work collaborating on your quiz events over the past several years.
I thought as we all Celebrate International Women’s Day tomorrow, Friday March 8th I would give you a little flavour of my career through the years and what led me to being a co-director and event planner for The Quiz Team and how those experiences help me support you well.

Firstly I would like to thank and celebrate all the amazing, talented women we have worked with as corporate clients, hosts, tech and marketing specialists and pub managers. I see you and appreciate your talents, enthusiasm and dedicated work. Thanks for being a part of our collaborative projects in making people happy through quizzes.

I have always worked in the service industry starting with a volunteer position at my Aunt’s stationary store in Canada at the age of 13 followed by my first formal retail job at Foot Locker. Yep, you read that right…Foot Locker. Those were the days of a striped uniform shirt and smelly kids socks as they tried on their next pair of trainers.

At 17 I hit University for my first degree in Sports Science working part time back at the stationary store (gosh I do love the smell of pencils!). Canada was a great place to hone my customer service skills…Smile as people enter the door, make eye contact, kindly offer help if needed, be there when the person was ready with questions on a product and finish the interaction with another smile (more eye contact) and a Thank You for coming in. Basically, be a polite, helpful human!

During the same period I started as an instructor at the University of Manitoba, Mini University and Sports Camps summer and winter programmes guiding children between the ages of 4-16 in all types of sports and movements. What a joy being around their energy and curiosity! This period was the start of my work with that age group as I later entered my second degree, Education which led to teaching positions in schools across the 1990s. This all laid the foundation for managing many situations, behaviours and groups as I shared the content and my enthusiasm for human movement.

As I taught children I also started guiding and supporting adults (ages 18-95) as a personal trainer, fitness class instructor and wellness workshop facilitator. My teaching experience brought a real depth to offering the best service in these areas at a women’s only fitness centre and a cardiac rehab facility. Every new client taught me something new about how to actively listen and share what they most needed whether it was a new Mom, a woman experiencing menopause or a 92 year old lady wanting arm strength to get out of her bathtub on her own. This work continues to this day. I can’t quite believe I have been in that industry for 30 years!

The year 2000 was a turning point as I flew away from a -30C Winnipeg, and arrived to a beautiful summertime in New Zealand where I firmly stayed for 18 months. There I discovered the joys of working in hospitality, learning about wine and food from both an enthusiastic owner and a manager at Annie’s Wine Bar in Christchurch. Being a waitress at Annie’s and at Awaroa Lodge during my time in NZ was invigorating, fun, hard work and gave me an even deeper understanding of how to serve well.

London was calling as I set foot on the island in 2001, quickly finding my first UK job in personal training. We worked one to one with high achieving clients who had chosen to take the best care of themselves. More learning about customer service, expectations and active listening. After four years in a stimulating work environment I broke out to start my own PT business which I still run today.

Weaved through all the years of personal training have been corporate wellness workshops which really bring me back to my teaching roots being able to facilitate and motivate small to large groups of people. Working as a woman in the fitness industry from the early 1990s has always been fascinating as in early days it was predominantly populated by men (as was the weight room in Uni)! This never really phased me as I built my confidence in many different ways whether that was working out consistently, challenging myself to speak in front of large groups, work with a PT client with issues that were new to me or running my own business in a big cosmopolitan international city. I felt being a woman in an industry with mostly men set me apart as I had complimentary skills to them, my own interests and unique ways of communicating. We all had opportunities to help a variety of people who were looking to take better care of themselves.

What led me to event planning and being a co-director at The Quiz Team….Jez of course!
We met at a mutual friend’s birthday party in the light of the fridge and the rest is history!

Charlene and Jez - Directors of The Quiz Team Ltd
Photo credit: Shepheard Photography Limited – www.shepheardphotography.com

Jez was already running The Quiz Team, writing and hosting successful quizzes across London. As the corporate event side took off I came in to do the event planning and became a co-director. All those service skills I had learned and was still learning in retail and fitness pulled over perfectly into corporate events.

Never would my younger self have thought I would run not one, but two businesses in one of the greatest cities in the world! As one of my PT clients would say, “Extraordinary Darling!”
I wouldn’t change one job I have had over these past thirty years as each has given me a skill or understanding of how to work with so many different people and businesses. Most experiences have been incredible and surprising while some have given me constructive learning. I have done my best to learn from it all and continue to offer better and better service as a strong, experienced woman in the dynamic industries of corporate events and fitness.

Celebrate the women in your life and work this Friday March 8th as we Celebrate International Women’s Day and every day!!!


Find out more ways to Celebrate International Women’s Day here…

Interested in planning a corporate quiz with us at The Quiz Team.

Get in touch here.