Our Head of Operations
Mara De La Paz
Tell us about your current role at Ortus and how you got there.
I started with Ortus back in April 2016, over four years ago and a lot has happened since then. I have seen the company grow and develop significantly, from a 4-people team to one of over 30! I feel so privileged to have been part of this growth. I had a strong desire to make a difference right from the beginning, and it is this driving force that kept me going and motivated to always add value and ensure the company went in the right direction.
I remember doing everything manually in the early days. Looking back, I would say it was a bit primitive, for lack of a better word, compared to where we are now. Of course, there’s always things to improve on; technology is always about learning and unlearning things. I used to handle one project a month on my own but, as things have grown, we now have departments and teams that work together on each project.
Today, I’m an Executive Director at The Ortus Club. I handle a bit of sales and HR but operations take up most of my time. Overseeing all the events for our clients, making sure everyone is following the right process, and of course making sure each event goes as smoothly as possible. I have grown a lot in confidence, after initially feeling uncertain about my role and what it would evolve into in the future. I can say that what we do is relevantly new, this type of job is not something your teacher from college can easily prepare you for. But that’s where the excitement comes from: trying to figure things out as you go along. For me, it’s like a puzzle I need to solve, and the uncertainty of things keeps me focused.
What first made you join the Ortus team?
I interviewed for The Ortus Club, because a friend of mine, Catherine, used to work here. I had just come back from Dubai, and I was still trying to settle down in Manila. I remember being interviewed by Sam and Jess, along with other candidates who were older and with more experience. I felt intimidated, but I decided my only option was to try my best. We were asked to do a call simulation where we were asked to call someone to invite them to an event. I was very nervous and I’m sure I looked it but I quickly realised that it was not about what I looked like but how I sounded that would matter. So, I grabbed the phone and put my head down on the table so that I couldn’t be distracted by others’ reactions. And I have to say it paid off! I am where I am now because in that short moment in time I believed in myself. The self-belief I found during that interview is still something I feel proud of today.
In a one-on-one interview with Sam and Jess, I was very open about my work and life goals. I remember talking to them about my mental health issues and them being very supportive. That made me feel that Ortus was the right company, a company where I could be myself and where there was open dialogue.
What do you like the most about working with Ortus?
The team. Plain and simple. I love seeing our team grow and thrive. I’ve always believed that if staff are well trained, we can all share in the success of the company. Being part of a young team, there are so many things you can do and improve, and you can quickly jump between different departments. I would say that this experience alone is hard to find in other organisations.
There have been a lot of exciting and challenging experiences, and it’s tough to pick one but I think what I found challenging, in general, is communication. Communicating with your team, your client and guests is hard to master, but that’s what experience is for! You need to experience things to learn how to get better at your job. It’s a constant learning process.
“I love seeing our team grow and thrive. I’ve always believed that if staff are well trained, we can all share in the success of the company.”
A lot of things changed for businesses all over the world this year, especially in the events industry. Do you think your role changed as a consequence? How?
Absolutely surreal. As you could probably tell from my previous answers that I’m a bit insecure about my age. I initially felt that I would look like a joke standing in front of a table of c-level executives, but I was pleasantly surprised when I was treated with the same amount of respect as their peers around them. It definitely helped how our managing partner, Jess, shaped my mindset to see myself as someone as just as important since I was responsible for bringing such like-minded people together into a room. It really boosted my confidence and helped me carry myself when leading the discussion.
What’s one thing you are excited about, thinking about the future of Ortus?
There are so many opportunities that Ortus could explore in the future but what is important is having a stronger and more flexible team – something we have already started building and has been exciting seeing it progress.