The Big Cheese

Life in the time of COVID-19 with MCEC’s Stephanie Hopton

Welcome to the first interview of The Nibbler’s new series, ‘Life in the time of COVID-19’, where we’ll be checking-in with members of the MICE industry to see how they are adjusting to life in unprecedented times.

As it turns out, like most of us working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre’s senior manager of sales, Stephanie Hopton, is finding out she has an unhealthy obsession with banana bread.

What are you reading?

The Barefoot Investor. Ironic, I know.

I started it back in the December holiday period and then got too busy to continue until now. Even though times are tough right now, hopefully there are some gold nuggets to consider for the future!

What are you watching?

What am I not watching… I know I am not the only person saying that!

Favourites so far include Unorthodox. I gave Tiger King a crack but my goodness it was painful, and now I’m onto the Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance.

Like most, Stephanie is working from home, and watching a whole lot of Netflix.

What are you listening to?

An eclectic mix of Kings of Leon, Phil Collins, disco and 80s rock.

What are you cooking?

Carbs, carbs, carbs! Banana bread, scones, pasta, and a bit of slow cooking to boot!

How are you staying fit both physically and mentally?

My trainer at the gym managed to stalk me down a few weeks ago and convince me to do Zoom workouts.

Ye, she still has hawk eyes and can see when I am “slacking off”. Outside of that, a lot of walking!

What’s the one thing keeping you sane?

Walking, Netflix and speaking with friends and family.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the coronavirus hit?

Everyone having to slow down! People making more time to connect with family and friends and really take stock of the way we live our lives.

Also, the positive impacts to climate change and the positive impact on industries such as our wonderful farmers.

What have you learned about yourself amid the crisis?

When leading teams, you are constantly considering the needs and welfare of your people, but it is important to remember you’re human too and to be kind to yourself.

No one has experienced this kind of crisis before.

What’s your advice for others in the travel industry on coping with the crisis?

Keep making the time to connect with colleagues and friends – we are all in this together. How we support each other now will define how we recover in future.

It’s important to take each day as it comes. With so many variables to consider, we can often get caught up in the ‘what if?’ questions which can consume our time.

Keep eating well and exercising – this has really helped me during this time of isolation.


Know someone who’d be perfect to profile for ‘Life in the time of COVID-19’? Email editor@travelweekly.com.au.

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