Women in Events - Introducing Five Fabulous Ladies

International Women’s Day is Saturday, 8 March and in order to mark the occasion we are showcasing a flock of ladies that are passionate, hardworking and who all love the events industry.

So get ready, you’re in for a treat as we get up close and personal with five fabulous women who are involved in various aspects of the events industry.

Between them they have 58 years’ experience (and still look sensational) and have all worked on some amazing events, learning valuable lessons along the way. Today they share some of their wisdom and experiences with Event Birdie.


Angela Trieste

Vanilla Bean Events_Angela Trieste
Director
Industry experience: 18 years
Work place: Mostly female
 
What it is like to work in a workplace dominated by females? 
I love working with ladies! We are always on the same wave length, we just understand each other and our thought processes and definitely complement each other’s talents. It is a highly creative environment and we definitely love ‘all things pretty’. This can be challenging when the brief is a male focussed blokey event, but to our credit we have always pulled off a ‘choice’ blokey event with rave reviews!  

Give us a snapshot of your events career?
I was a volunteer marketing intern for Australia’s leading magazine publisher whilst undertaking a Business degree - it was an awesome first job, which led to paid employment there. I then moved on to a PR role with a celebrity booking agency (so much fun and glamour!). Then I moved into the charity world where I was an events co-ordinator. I loved the diversity from the corporate world and that I was giving back to the community. I stayed there for many years, then moved to a marketing agency developing DM campaigns for some super cool brands. About 18 months into that job I was called back to the charity I worked for previously to take on a senior position in charge of their Marketing and Events division nationally. After 2 kids, I decided to start my own boutique events agency.  We specialise in fundraising events, event styling and corporate events.  I wake up every day and can’t wait to get to it- I love my job!

Best event you ever worked on and why?
Cricket Rocks – raising funds for the Ponting Foundation.  High profile entertainment, all the Australian Cricket greats past and present, great cause with two great people at the head of it – Rianna and Ricky Ponting.  The events were back to back in Melbourne and Sydney, it was such hard work but I LOVED every minute of it!
 
Cricket Rocks Gala Event

What was your 'learn the hard way' event management blooper?
Always make a checklist – no matter how experienced you are!  Once we left behind some very important vouchers that were needed for one of our charity auctions, and we didn’t realise until one hour prior to the event start time.  There was just enough time to retrieve them, but it was not a necessary stress needed at the time! From then on we became check list obsessed!

Three personality traits you think someone needs to succeed in the events industry?
Creative, meticulous, and confident.

If you could share one piece of good advice to those in the industry, what would it be?
Get as much experience as possible when you are starting out. Volunteer at as many events as possible, it’s a good starting point for anyone new in the industry wanting to get their foot in the door. Oh and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Last question… On the day of the event when the guests are there, are you in heels or flats?
Heels always! Better to be stylish than comfortable!


Charlotte Moscrop Charlotte Moscrop
Marketing & Communications Manager
Industry experience: 10 years
Work place: Mostly male
 
Tell us what it is like to work in a workplace dominated by males? 
I had always worked in female dominanted environments previously, so coming to AV1 was quite a change. Not only to be working mostly with men, but also in AV. You wouldn’t normally put technology and me in the same sentence!
It’s great working here. The guys in our team are so talented. But what’s really great is seeing how they translate their knowledge of technology and innovation into something meaningful for our clients. They’re not stereotypical techy people… they’re fun, friendly, clever, creative, inspiring and genuine. They are idea generators, planners, producers, problem solvers and service providers all rolled into one.

Give us a snapshot of your events career?
Back at uni I took a class in event management and I remember thinking ‘I never want to do this for a living’. Low and behold, that’s where I started. Fresh out of uni I took a job with an events company and I absolutely loved it. Give me name badges, satchels, runsheets and logistics and I’m in my element. I love planning something and seeing it come to life.
After years of working with Keith Wootton as an AV supplier, I took a position with AV1 – firstly in operations and now in marketing. We were a team of six when I started back in 2008 and now we’re at 20! It was a strange transition moving over to the supplier side, but I love it. I remember when AV was such a daunting element for me as an event manager, and now I can use that experience to help provide the best service possible for our clients.
 
Best event you ever worked on and why?
It was a personal initiative. After seeing the devastation of the 2009 Victorian bushfires, a friend and I decided to pool our events and PR experience together and organise a fundraising event. ‘Helping Victoria’ raised $7,000 and every single cent went directly to the Australian Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal. The support we had was amazing and so inspiring to see everyone come together to help those in need. 
 
SES Appeal Event
 
What was your 'learn the hard way' event management blooper?
We were producing a conference in California when only 10 minutes before the opening address there was a city-wide power outage. Hello force majeure!
It was a great opportunity to learn how to adapt immediately. Essentially we just had to wait – there was nothing we could do. I think we were delayed by 30 minutes, which we managed to make up during the day.
 
Three personality traits you think someone needs to succeed in the events industry?
Passionate – not just in the events industry, but in any. I don’t think it’s worth doing something for five days a week (sometimes more!) if you’re not passionate about it. You’ve got to love what you do.
Meticulous - you might be organising a great big glamorous gala event with hundreds of people, but the success lies in the detail. You’ve got to be willing to check, double check and then check again. 
Dependable – you need to deliver what you promise. Whether you’re an event planner, a venue or a supplier, you are providing a service to someone and they are relying on you.
 
If you could share one piece of good advice to those in the industry, what would it be?
Don’t assume. Check the details, confirm the logistics and plan for the unexpected. Nine times out of ten, nothing will go wrong but on the one time when it does, you want to be prepared!  

Last question… On the day of the event when the guests are there are you in heels or flats?
Heels! I can’t help myself, no matter what common sense tells me.


Melinda Olah
Event Sales Manager
Gastronomy, the art and science of food
Industry experience: 8 years
Work place: Female predominantly with a bunch of males in the kitchen!
 

Tell us what it is like in your workplace? 
Our office (and events team in general) is certainly very feminine, but we can always rely on our passionate chefs to balance it out with some testosterone! Us ladies wear the fancy pants, coming up with the creative concept of the events, but it is our kitchen team that proudly makes it happen for us, bringing our ideas to life.
 
Give us a snapshot of your events career?
I started working for the hotel-chain-giant ACCOR in Europe and was transferred to Sydney 7 years ago. I found my true career love was organising social events for beautiful water venues on the Northern Beaches– first at a yacht club in Mosman managed by Compass Group, then a return to ACCOR as Social Events Manager (aka Party and Wedding Planner) of the Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific where the ballroom, restaurants and bars were an ideal playground to create fabulous functions. The very reason I love being the Events Sales Manager for Gastronomy (my current role) is that our opportunities are even more endless. Whether it is someone’s house with a backyard marquee, cool little hidden art studios or the famous venues of Sydney, we can cater anywhere and everywhere.
 
Best event you ever worked on and why?
Oh, it is almost impossible to pin point just one! I remember a mentor of mine telling me once: ‘Mel, you are only as good as your last event was’ so my favourite event is always the one I am currently working on. At the moment it is a Great Gatsby Wedding for 800 guests at ATP. I have a feeling it will actually be greater than Gatsby with lavish oyster bar, degustation menu, matching beverages served in oversized wine glasses, ice sculptures, golden touches, a forest of orchids, the LOT!
 
Gatsby Gala Event Tasting

What was your 'learn the hard way' event management blooper?
You have to know the big players, decision makers, the who ‘s who of the industry. When I was ‘fresh off the boat’ I was not exactly mastering this, but thanks to late nights on social media and good old morning shows, my colleagues no longer have to whisper celebrity or VIP names into my non-Aussie ears.
 
Three personality traits you think someone needs to succeed in the events industry?
1. You must be likeable and this is non-negotiable. Not only your clients have to like you from the start but you have to have a great team behind you to execute the ever so important details for you. Chef, operations team and suppliers – you have to make lots of friends in this industry!
2. You have to be genuine and the bad news is that this is one thing that cannot be learnt. You either care greatly and would do anything for each event’s success or you should not be in this industry. There is no in between I’m afraid… 
3. And it also helps if you are a maximalist, perfectionist and tend to give 110%. I always ask myself: what if this corporate event was actually for my Mum’s company, or if this bride was my best friend? The extra mile you go to is priceless.
 
If you could share one piece of good advice to those in the industry, what would it be?
Always think worst case scenario and prepare Plan B accordingly. Example, if the barge to move the equipment to Cockatoo Island for your Launch Party does not turn up, will all the glassware fit into water taxis? Most of the time you do not need it, but you sleep so much better at night, trust me!
 
Last question… On the day of the event when the guests are there are you in heels or flats?
Strictly always in heels. I have the best masseur in town on standby for the day after each big event!


Tegan Burford Tegan Burford
Sales and Marketing Manager
Divine Events
Industry experience: 8 years
Work place: Balance of females and males
 

Tell us what it is like to work in a workplace with an even balance of females to males? 
Working in a 50:50 male to female environment and having done so for rather a long time I have come to realise that men and women really do have different ways of communicating. It is important to acknowledge this and sometimes adjust the way you communicate so all parties can understand you and the message you are trying to convey.
 
Give us a snapshot of your events career?
After interning at Mercedes Fashion Week while studying Fashion Design I fell in love with the events side of things rather than the fashion side. I decided to peruse a career in event management that has since developed into event styling. Since then I have worked with some amazing colleagues, clients and suppliers in some amazing venues such as the Art Gallery of NSW and the Sydney Opera House. 
Now I have been rather fortunate in finding a position where I can combine both my events and design experience with my new love for business.
 
Best event you ever worked on and why?
Eeeeek this is hard! I have worked on so many amazing events. I think one of the most exciting events I have ever worked on was an event for 300 top international CEO’s of a financial institution where they unexpectantly walked into a Master Chef style cook off. Half way through the evening when there was flambé, wine and food everywhere, my team and I appeared out of nowhere and turned the room around from Master Chef to a fine dining experience within 8 minutes. Including whisking off an overlay to reveal a pre-set table with custom designed linen, floral arrangements and dining chairs that were all hiding throughout the room. To see the look of fun, excitement and sheer thrill on the client’s face was absolutely priceless and bought home to me why we do what we do!

MasterChef Surprise Dinner
 
What was your 'learn the hard way' event management blooper?
NEVER ASSUME! Just because you know a detail, a fact or a requirement does not mean that everyone else does. Give as much information and communicate as much as you can.
 
Three personality traits you think someone needs to succeed in the events industry?
Think fast on your feet, be open to change (especially last minute change), believe in yourself and trust your instincts! Sorry I know that is four but the last one is really important.
 
If you could share one piece of good advice to those in the industry, what would it be?
If you don’t believe it your client is never going to believe it! In the events industry we sell a dream, an experience and a concept that we promise to deliver on the day of the event. If you do not whole heartedly believe in what you sell, what you provide and what you do, then your client never will either.
 
Last question… On the day of the event when the guests are there are you in heels or flats?
HEELS! I have been known to sprint from one side of the venue to the next in heels, leap off the back of a truck in heels, conducted site inspection in a field in heels and even jump over a fence in heels.


Natalie PageNatalie Page
Creative Director, Senior Photographer
Industry experience: 14 years
Work place: Balance of females and males
 
Tell us what it is like to work in a workplace with an even balance of females to males? 
We are blessed with a 50:50 team.  I say blessed because we need both females and males to balance decision making in the business.
 
Give us a snapshot of your events career?
I started in Paris working for Buddha Bar and then St Tropez for Cote De Sud Magazine photographing all their Event & PR Launches. I then returned to Australia working directly with companies that have very exciting event concepts like Audi, VW, Coca Cola, Shell and Ferrari. We have also been heavily involved in shooting Hair and Beauty Expo’s over the years, which has been a lot of fun! I also have to mention Optus as they are a company that really know how to do events on an incredible scale!
 
Best event you ever worked on and why?
Hair Expo Gala, particularly the Next Gen Gala, as the team I work with are utterly professional.  I always receive my run-sheet in time for me to review, which allows me to get back to the client, Reed Exhibitions, with any questions.  I am also included as part of the events team and I am expected to give feedback.  The biggest reason why I love this event so much is because it is visually amazing, the atmosphere electric, the lighting incredible and every year it is better than the last. Working in fashion week is truly amazing watching the creation of incredible shows delighting thousands of guests and me!  The shows are influenced with global thinking drawing on the latest trends in fashion & styling from all corners of our globe.

Hair Expo Gala - NextGen

What was your 'learn the hard way' event management blooper?
Never ever assume!  When in doubt check with the client/event company. Early in my career I had an event brief where the company stated the event date was Friday 13th October but in fact this was the wrong date.  I didn’t check this till the very last minute and realised I was given the wrong date and even worse it was the wrong month!  It was an essential lesson to learn that I should always check the run sheet with the original booking straight away – dates are critical! Since then I’ve always been meticulous about checking……and double checking!
 
Three personality traits you think someone needs to succeed in the events industry?
1. A strong positive personality with lots of energy and passion.
2. There is always a way!... the word ‘can’t do’ isn’t an option!
3. Have the ability to be continuously innovative

If you could share one piece of good advice to those in the industry, what would it be?
Think outside the box!
 
Last question… On the day of the event when the guests are there are you in heels or flats?
For us photographers we have to be in flats because we are carrying about 7-8 kilos of camera. 
Of course they are stylish flats and I have regular pedicures! (Big Apple Red – OPI)


If you are also a fabulous female in the events industry we'd love to hear about you too! Share with us your advice, bloopers or favourite event experiences below in the comments.