Denise Wright on how to make it as a competition director

1. You need a variety of industry experience

“I’ve been running the Professional Beauty International, Irish and North Nail Championships since 2011, when managing director Mark Moloney made me competitions director. I landed the role because of my expertise and industry experience. “I’m a competition circuit winner – I was unbeaten for 10 years – and I also run my own salon and training academy, have written books, worked in education with Habia and City & Guilds, marked exam papers, set standards and worked on nail products in a laboratory.”

2. It’s not as simple as it looks

“By becoming the director, you take on the whole thing – writing the rules and regulations, working more closely with the magazine, sourcing the judges and arranging the trophies and inscriptions. “You also oversee the set-up, ensuring there’s lighting, electrics and tables, and that the judges’ booth and competition area is fit for purpose. Making sure everything comes together is the hardest part of the job. It takes a lot of coordination.”

3. You won’t get it right first time

“The first time I ran the PB competition there was no cut-off point for entries and 35 extra techs turned up on the day to compete – it really affected the judging. The awards ran an hour late and the venue wanted to turn the lights out before we finished. I came off stage and said to myself, ‘This is never happening again’. “That’s when I devised a system that included cut-off times for entries. I now also employ two people to put all the data into the system for me, so I’m more freed up on the day.”

4. People skills are a must

“For this job, you need to be a people person. Competitors are nervous when they come in and disappointed when they don’t get the top spot. It’s important to explain why they didn’t win in a constructive manner. I praise their high scores first, then comment on the low marks, showing them the areas they need to work on for next year. “Another challenge is that sometimes people will try to cheat, and it’s sad because they should be playing by the rules. If I say, ‘Get out of my arena, you’re cheating’, they go. There’s no argument because I’m respected. I’m known as ‘mama nails’ in the industry.”

5. You need an eye for detail

“You have to move with the times and keep up with what’s trending, which is why I’ve added a Dip Systems category to the London championships this year. It’s also about spying the next generation of potential judges and taking them out of the circuit. Judges should be competition winners, have a good eye for detail, some kind of teaching or educator background and be ambassadors for the industry.”

6. There’s a lot of job satisfaction

“The best thing about the role is nurturing people and helping them move up the ladder. The championships can lead to some amazing job opportunities for competitors – they can become session techs, brand ambassadors for big nail brands or work on TV.”