Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Natasha Thomas

Natasha Thomas, Founder and CEO of Total Management Group

About Total Management Group

Established in 2006, Total Management Group is a world-leading provider of entertainment, travel and lifestyle solutions.

Today, with offices across London and New York, Total Management Group comprises five divisions: experiences, travel, event management, lifestyle management, and studio. These divisions can be integrated or used independently to provide a specific or full scope of services for brands, corporates, and private clients around the world.

Q: Can you give us a brief introduction to your career background?

A: I started my career early in hospitality, with a job role at Guinness straight out of university, and continued to stay predominantly within that sector, which led to me founding Total Management Group in 2006.

The big questions

Q: What's been your biggest success within your career?

A: I think, for me, it took a few years to really understand what kind of business I wanted to build, but I always knew I wanted to scale something that was multi-divisional. Taking the business from scratch to a c. £28 million revenue business this year with my team has been, I think, my biggest success within my career.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge within your career?

A: Four years before Covid, we were running at a 45% annual growth rate, and we were set to record our strongest year to date when Covid hit, which saw the business lose 90% of its revenue as the events and travel industries shut down. Trying to keep my team motivated and lead them through one of the biggest economical disasters was certainly my most challenging leadership role to date and one of the hardest times, not knowing if we would make it out the other side.

Q: What's your biggest regret?

A: Spending far too much time wondering if I could have kids and still have a successful career. I think the world and messaging is slowly changing, but I really did worry at times, just before I had my first child, if I would still be able to do both. Although if truth be told, we went through some of our highest growth years during that period.

In short, I regret not backing myself earlier, that I could have both a career and a family. It’s something I’m very passionate about and constantly tell my team: it shouldn’t be a worry to have to choose – you can do both.

Q: What has been your biggest learning opportunity?

A: Total Management Group was fortunate to be listed in the UK’s top 100 fastest-growing companies three years running. That brought a great sense of achievement and recognition, but one big lesson I learned from this was not to get caught up in the noise and keep your focus on the business. We had a huge amount of sudden interest and a spotlight shone on us, which presented so much opportunity. However, at the end of the day, we still needed to remain focused, and it was a great learning period for us as a business, as we suddenly had different scaling options and serious interest in the business.

Q: Who/what have you learnt most from?

A: I’m very fortunate that I’m surrounded by many talented people who have either founded or run exceptional businesses across many different industries. I have learnt so much from them by just sitting down and hashing through different scenarios. You never truly stop learning and I feel very fortunate to have a host of people who have all hugely helped contribute to my career success, with both advice and knowledge.

Q: What's the biggest challenge in your marketplace at the moment?

A: The rapid bounce back. No one anticipated how quickly things would open back up and we are now trading well above our pre-Covid numbers. The biggest challenge with this is keeping up with that growth and making sure we put a growing team in place to make sure our team has the bandwidth and support that they need to avoid burn-out or over-stretch.

Tips from the top

Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?

A: Follow your gut instinct. I think I have learnt to make decisions based on how I feel, and I think that comes with experience and time; I wasn’t always like that. If something isn’t working now, I change it, rather than trying to navigate through it - which often sets the business back and wastes a huge amount of time, since you always end back at your initial gut feeling 90% of the time!

Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring CEO?

A: Hire the strongest team possible. At the start of my career, I thought I could do most things better and, again, with experience, you soon learn that your team are your best and biggest strategy. I now have some of the smartest people working with me and that has single-handedly led to our growth and success. I learn from them every day.

Q: What do you think is key to managing a successful team?

A: I think I’m a very approachable person. I’m hugely competitive, but my team comes first. I try very hard not to have a top-down culture and I have tried to build a scalable structure where every person has a support network. My job is to always try and manage with our strategy in place, but with our team in the front of my mind. I work very hard to try and create a solid company culture, as I do believe that if you create a good working environment, you will create an ambitious and happy team, which is key to every successful business.

Q: What's your top tip for managing work-life balance?

A: This is something that I speak regularly about with my team and it’s something that is fundamentally critical if you want to succeed and scale a business. Burn-out achieves exactly zero and, at times, some of the best leaders reflect on their career and find that their biggest regrets are that they didn’t get that balance right. I do work very hard, but I equally have times when I will switch off and fully get involved with my family life. I think I’m a far better leader for that.

Future gazing

Q: How do you see the CEO role changing in the next five years?

A: For me, I feel that the CEO role will remain the same. We are just about to go into our next growth cycle, which will see a very focused four-year plan and I think with that my role will evolve to become more strategy-led and to look at the larger strategic/growth plays. I think every CEO role is wildly different, depending on what the business is trying to achieve during that time period.

Q: What technological advances do you foresee within your role?

A: We are currently doing a big audit on our technology requirements since, to date, we have been relatively manual which can be very taxing on the team. There is an ongoing need and requirement to implement better systems to scale at the same speed of growth we are experiencing.

Q: What do you see as the future of work in the UK?

A: There is a huge amount of opportunity out there currently. One thing that Covid has taught us was to do something that is both inspiring and gives job satisfaction. So many people changed lane post-Covid and have gone into totally new sectors, and I think businesses offering a slightly more open view with experience has allowed people to make these career changes. Sometimes the skill set needs to follow the determination and willingness to learn.

Love Mondays: at Reed we are on a mission to help everyone love their job

Q: What do you love most about your role?

A: No day is the same and I love working with my team. I learn something new each day and feel very motivated in terms of my day-to-day role. I’m very excited about the next few years to really see the business scale further. We have some very exciting plans to roll out.

Q: What does your average Monday look like?

A: I’m usually up early, before my very busy house wakes up (I have three young kids!). I like to sit on my own with a coffee for 30 minutes, to get my plan and focus ready for the day. I drive into my office, and we have a fitness trainer within the premises, which allows me to train with some of my team daily before work - which is both fun and motivating and circles back to that work/life balance.

If you’re looking for a talented professional to join your team, or a new career opportunity for yourself, contact one of our accountancy and finance recruitment specialists.