Career of the week: Visitor centre manager

Clare Goddard is the manager of the Narthex at St John's Roman Catholic Cathedral. The Narthex is a Heritage Lottery Funded visitor centre that provides level access and modern amenities (cafe, shop, garden, function rooms) for all that visit the cathedral.

Why is it a good profession to get into?

I like my job because of its diverse nature. There are so many interesting facets to it and no two days are ever alike.

I enjoy working on developing links with partners in order to initiate and grow stronger projects with a common link. Working in a heritage environment is a plus and to be competitive, as a heritage site in this market, it has to be an ever changing one too so as a profession it is forever moving forward.

What does the work involve?

There is no such thing as an average day. I am contracted to work 40 hours a week but sometimes that doubles out of choice rather than pressure. My hours are flexible and dependent on what happens in the Narthex on a weekly basis. An average day would be 9am – 6pm but my hours have to be flexible because of the number of groups that use the building, especially in the evening at weekends.

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The high points of the cathedral's calendar are Easter and Christmas but it is a thriving place of worship all the year round. The Narthex is busy Tuesday to Sunday – it is closed on Monday.

I come from a theatre background. I am a trained director. I look at his job as something like a performance I am there to pull together personnel, operations and planning to ensure the Narthex is successful

What are the positives/negatives of this profession?

The best thing about my role is meeting new people and the ability to work on interesting projects with other organizations. I have also been here since the building was started and it is great to see the building develop and grow.

The positives of this role are that I am working in a beautiful space surrounded by interesting people and with a great bunch of volunteers to support my role. On the negative side, there is never enough time in the day and also there are some restrictions on what can be done in the space due to the diverse needs of people and the need to be sensitive to the ethos of the building.

Is there much local demand for people trained in this area?

Over the last few years there has been a lot of investment in heritage sites which has meant that there are many more opportunities for people in this sector. The challenge is how you create the jobs to work in them. There are always opportunities for volunteers at St John's and the Narthex – people do not have to have any religious background to get involved but good customer service skills are essential. Every so often paid opportunities do arise and these are advertised on our website

What would employers look for in someone applying for a vacancy?

The key skill to have in this role is good communication skills. You have to enjoy working with people, have good time management, be able to work under pressure and need to understand how a business functions, and to relish the challenge of it all.

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