I started this awhile ago, and I'd like to continue doing this regularly because I know so many people with badass jobs. In the second instalment of When I Grow Up, I Wanna Be..., I'd like to introduce thedramadiaries readers to my good friend [also one of the funniest people I know], Denise Tan, without whom I would have been to Spain a few times, fallen in love with the food, the language, amongst many other things. Delve deep into Denise's realm of tortilla, sangria and everything else in between...
Tell us about what you do.
I work at the Spain Tourism Board, I promote Spain as a tourism destination to our markets in South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand through advertising, publicity and events.
What does an average day at work look like for you?
Organising press trips for journalists from our markets, dealing with image/information requests by journalists, researching on the latest marketing methods and what’s new in society (very important to know what’s going on in the world to see if it can apply to promoting Spain), clipping articles, sending out press releases, organizing events, networking, deciding what media to advertise with.
Is this what you wanted to do as a child? Did you end up in this job by “accident” or was it a planned career choice?
Definitely not. I wanted to be a biologist or a zookeeper. Then I got practical when I was 13 and wanted to be a writer or an animator but I failed art for my O’levels because I couldn’t do a damn “batik”. How is that fair? I can draw but I can’t wax a stupid cloth. Sorry, I am angrily digressing. Anyway, ended up with this job by accident. I always wanted to learn a third language and picked Spanish because it’s the third most spoken language in the world after English and Mandarin Chinese and one day, my dad saw an ad in the paper and thinking there was some relevance, he passed it on to me. I went to the interview for fun.
What kind of education do you have?
I only have an advanced diploma from MDIS – grateful to them. Was one of the first batches of students when they opened and they were willing to give me a chance. Our education system decided for me that I was “right” for nursing. Hell no. I am not changing anyone’s diapers besides my baby’s or my parents'.
Do you think official qualifications are important for someone entering your industry? Yes and no. You definitely need to have a background in PR and Marketing to learn the basics but you also need experience and street savvy, something that schools will never be able to teach you.
What do you think is the best thing about what you do?
I get to meet people from all over the world and I get to travel to Spain / Europe pretty often!
What’s the worst thing?
Working with people who think that the whole world should revolve around them. And people who think the tourism board is a tourism agency - there's a difference, people!
Are you a workaholic?
When I first started, I was a workaholic but only because I had something to prove. I started out at the office very young (20) and though my director was doubtful, he gave me a chance. Now that I have stabilized myself, I take time off for my friends, family and myself – this is important because if you aren’t happy, no “great” job in the world can satisfy you either.
What would your number one suggestion be for someone who wants to do what you do?
You have to be willing to sacrifice – sometimes it’s not about the money you have to pay to get experience, I was willing to invest my time and effort to get experience. I got the current job at 20 but I started working since I was 17. I remember even offering to work at a production house for free though they said no, they wanted to pay me.
...How about a second pointer?
You also have to be open-minded, for example I was hammering nails into the floor in abandoned hangars when they were building sets for shoots. It doesn’t apply to my job now but at least I know how to handle a hammer. You also need to learn to have fun while doing menial jobs. All clichés but there’s always truths in them.
What do you wish you had known when you first started out?
Nothing really… [Faz's note: Maybe she would've like to have known what complete teases a lot of Spanish boys are!]
Above: Denise's room at Hotel Puerta América, Madrid
Are there any major misconceptions about your job or industry?
That it’s glamorous – it can be, I won’t deny that but there are times when you have to suck it up, roll your sleeves and pick up the muck.
What is the best thing that’s happened to you as a consequence of the work you do?
The people I have met.
What motivates you to keep doing what you’re doing?
No Spain, No Gain. Haha!! No I am sorry… making my mother and myself proud of what I am doing. Things such as projects and events that I have handled personally gets picked up and shown to the board of directors in Spain. Now that’s – motivation. Do you think you’ll continue doing this for the rest of your life?
Who knows…? Rather not think about that now.
P.S.: Have a cool job, or know someone with a cool job? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!