Women in Events - Four ladies making it happen

International Women’s Day is Sunday, 8 March and once again we are marking the occasion by showcasing a flock of ladies that are passionate, hardworking and who all love the events industry.
 
This year the theme for IWD is ‘Make it Happen’, which, as women, we are all accustomed to doing (or at least trying) every day. It is also the perfect mantra for event professionals – both male and female – as our industry requires us to be quick thinking, reactive and able to get the job done under all sorts of pressure.
 
We asked our four fabulous ladies when have they had to 'make it happen' against all odds. As you may have guessed, finding an example was not too hard. We would love to hear from you too – when have you had to 'make it happen' against all odds? We look forward to reading your comments below!
 
Now pop the kettle on, take a break and help us celebrate the four women below and also the rest of the wonderful women in the events industry.



Amy VandenhurkAmy Vandenhurk - Women in Events
Event Director (Business Owner)
Cloud 9 Event Management
Industry experience: 10+ years

Give us a snap shot of your events career?
Well… there is a video of me when I was about 5 standing on a table and directing how the cake was to be handed out to everyone, then when I was 9 I made choc weet-bix balls (seriously they are amazing, I still love them today) and sold them at the kiosk of a local pool. 
 
When I went to uni to study marketing I did my ‘work experience’ with Fashion Week and it was one of the best weeks of my life. I loved it, never had I worked so hard for free in my life but I cried when it was over because it was like : “well what will I do now.!” It was such a rush.
 
Then I worked in hospitality – fine dining, as well as for a caterer. I managed venues and then finally after a trip overseas, I decided that I wanted to create inspired events. I wanted to create truly unforgettable, memorable and beautiful celebrations that people would look back on as some of the best times of their lives… I believe that a party is not just a party, it is an experience that will be remembered and talked about many times over and for years to come… it’s about celebrating life.!
 
Best event you ever worked on and why?
Okay, so this story I see as a celebration of life.
 
One of my beautiful clients, Vicky, wanted to celebrate her 50th birthday. A successful business woman with 2 children with 50 or so of her nearest and dearest, in her private home. She was dying of cancer and at times wasn’t sure she would even make the party.
 
When I met with her I asked about her life and the things she liked. When I stepped into the backyard it reminded me of Greece and I asked if she had ever been- she hadn’t and she loved 5 star travel. So the theme was set. Grecian Wonderland. We had Greek statues, ivy, flowers, her son’s band playing, Greek Islands inspired cake, karaoke, photographer, photo-booth, tarot cart reader, giant swans on the pool, feature lighting and colours of gold, white and fuchsia inspired by the bougainvillea that hugs the white walls of the Greek Islands buildings – a stunning contrast.
 
We had a professional photographer to capture the night and with a glow bar and, let's be honest, hot bartenders and staff all in white; a number of long island ice teas, she said it was truly “the best party ever”. It was then I realised that this is not just about a party, it’s about creating unforgettable experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.
 
Vicky died a few weeks later. I attended her funeral and felt grateful and blessed to have met her.

Life is to be celebrated and parties are not just a parties, they create lasting memories for everyone who attends them.

Grecian Wonderland Event - Cloud 9 Event Management

The theme for International Women’s Day 2015 is 'Make it Happen'. When have you had to 'make it happen' against all odds?  
I plan to write a book someday and all those stories will be a part of it.

For now, I would say that if it needs to get done, you just get it done. You delegate, outsource, recruit or call in help. The point is, that just as a shop window display is beautiful and the effort to get it looking that way is often not seen, so too is a seamless event - behind the scenes is exactly that. Keep smiling, it’s a party after all!
 
What are three personality traits you have that allow you to succeed in the events industry?
Passion
Positive energy
Can-do attitude

If you could share one piece of good advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Sometimes things don’t go to plan, your job is to make the best of every situation and think outside the box; if you do that often the only person that will notice it wasn’t 100% to plan is you – move on and learn from everything, but don’t share the problem unless you absolutely cannot solve it yourself.

Last question… On the day of the event when the guests are there, are you in heels or flats?
Meetings – heels and dresses or flowing skirts

Set-up – runners and sports pants

The event – flats (heels if I only had to stand at the door and welcome people in ;-) but there is always much more to do than that.



Nicole Bates Nicole Bates - Women in Events
Director
Conversion Management
Industry experience: 16 years
 

Give us a snap shot of your events career?
I have worked in most areas of the event industry, starting my career in 5 Star Hotels in Australia and the UK. I have been blessed to be a part of some amazing special events, including the Sydney Olympics, which was one of the highlights of my career.

A good few years were spent working in sales and marketing at iconic Canberra venues such as the Australian War Memorial, Parliament House and National Museum of Australia.  Parliament House of Australia was a highlight, Presidential visits became routine, but every event, I still had butterflies.  After opening a new venue in Canberra, it was time to move to Melbourne.  Managing a larger sales team and multiple venues and sites was a great achievement and I gained vast experience in all types of catering and events including venues of all types, commercial catering, major events catering and off site catering at homes, offices, parks and everywhere in between. I have also had years of experience as a General Manager at a well known hire company which was something new for me, I enjoyed the creative aspect of that role in coming up with theming concepts for event clients and venues.

After 15 years in the industry, I am now the proud co-owner of a business called Max Capacity, which combines my many years experience and passion for the industry into a role where I assist small to medium businesses with their sales and marketing. A key part of what I do now is to train event sales teams as well as business owners within our crazy and wonderful industry in areas such as sales, process and people management. My role as a consultant to the events industry, in conjunction with my position as Vice President of Events for ISES, sees me at events many times each month - I absolutely love what I do.
 
Best event you ever worked on and why?
Really, just one? Too many to choose from, but a highlight would be hosting President George W Bush Jnr Presidential visit in 2003, a dinner in The Great Hall, Parliament House for 600 guests.  He was just so charismatic and this huge, high profile and complex event went off without a hitch (which is always nice!). I have been a part of so many incredible events, this one stands out to me as a milestone in my career.
 
The theme for International Women’s Day 2015 is 'Make it Happen'. When have you had to make it happen against all odds?
Early in my sales career, Canberra experienced devastating bush fires. Most of the senior management were on annual leave. The venue I was working in was holding an event for 200 plus guests. 3.30 pm on the day of the event, Canberra was declared a state of emergency. The event went ahead, but with the radio calling suburbs one by one, staff and guests gradually left to either see their home in ruins or to save their treasured memories. It was a challenging event, the client really wanted to event to be outside, but the ash was so heavy and the temperatures were soring.  Managing the clients expectations with reality was a great achievement.  With limited staff and thankful of my F&B training, I managed the service of the event along with the remaining amazing team. 
 
What are three personality traits you have that allow you to succeed in the events industry?
Drive – it’s lead me to where I am today and pushes me with the excitement of the future of my business.
 
People Person – This is what everyone calls me! Being a business owner as well as a mother of three, I have learnt that really listening is a great skill to have and I think that is why I am constantly called this. Through being a good listener, I can get a really good understanding of what is required from a situation which is turn, means I have very strong relationships. I love meeting new people at all of the amazing events that I get to go to!
 
Adaptable – In events, you have to roll with the punches as there are so many contributing factors, supplier etc. I pride myself on my flexible nature and my ability to create efficiencies both in the sales process and in the operating of events themselves.
 
If you could share one piece of good advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Never assume. Trust your instincts.
 
Last question… On the day of the event when the guests are there, are you in heels or flats?
HEELS – I am a self confessed shoe-a-holic.  To me, a stunning pair of heels can set the tone for your day. A beautiful heel can make you feel strong, stunning, powerful – no matter what the day presents, you feel amazing – I may have a sneaky pair of flats to wear in the car on the way home though ;-)
 


Lynleigh McPherson Lynleigh McPherson - Women in Events
Account Director
Platinum Pass
Industry experience: 10 years
 

Give us a snap shot of your events career?
Sitting behind a computer as a graphic designer wasn’t quite the right fit for my personality. As a creative and organised person I attended a few events as a guest and was hooked. I then approached an agency that I wanted to work for with ideas and event concepts and was hired. I had sink or swim induction into the industry, my first event was for 650 guests at Luna Park for a major charity. I have been fortunate enough to work for premium brands with inspirational and driven leaders to learn from. From working in a creative Event Management Agency, a bespoke catering company, styling and exhibitions, I have had a well-rounded education on effective logistics, planning and creative that has taken my career to the next level. Now working for a company that has an international reach and an internal travel agent the sky is the limit. Events are the perfect opportunity for clients to immerse themselves in your brand for a period of time. 
 
Best event you ever worked on and why?
The Australian Open is one of Australia’s premier events that welcomes a number of international guests to Melbourne every January to experience what Australia and the city of Melbourne has to offer. The city comes alive for the event and being a creative hub Melbourne does not disappoint with turning on its charm.
 
It was my first major event at Platinum Pass and the excitement of being involved in such a premium event has launched my events career on an international scale. Platinum Pass is a partner of Tennis Australia and this relationship has allowed me to be involved in the ticketing process, styling and delivering corporate marquees, bespoke entertaining options with celebrity chefs for corporate engagement and negotiating corporate entertainment with my team on a large scale. The hype that surrounds the event, the atmosphere in the precinct and the arena is infectious. Being able to entertain our tennis clients in the Emirates AO lounge and able to showcase what our brand can offer was not only inspiration for our clients but myself as well! 

Tennis Australia Corporate Events - Platinum Pass
Platinum Pass Events at the Australian Open Tennis Championships 2015 
 
The theme for International Women’s Day 2015 is 'Make it Happen'. When have you had to 'make it happen against all  odds?
Being in the events industry is not only exciting and rewarding, but it is also an industry that can sometimes take no prisoners no matter how prepared you are. I have certainly been in some hairy situations.
 
Trucks breaking down, salt water served at a prominent event for drinking, entertainment not showing up, chairs collapsing, black outs have all been fun, solution driven experiences. I once worked on an event in an outdoor marquee that was completely flooded after a huge hail storm. With guest arrival in less than two hours, there was a lot of hair dryers, mops and industrial heaters called in to make the event happen. Not to mention some frazzled event staff.
 
What are three personality traits you have that allow you to succeed in the events industry?
I am client focused, can join the dots in connecting people with ideas and opportunities and have a can-do infectious personality. You can hear my laugh from a mile away. 
 
If you could share one piece of good advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Follow your dreams. If you are not passionate, committed and sometimes take a leap of faith you will always be left wondering. Learn from your mistakes, we all make them but it’s how we react and not act that is what will define you. 
 
Last question… On the day of the event when the guests are there, are you in heels or flats?
I think we all know the question to that one…heels!



Susan Le Roux Susan Le Roux - Women in Events
Sales Manager, NSW
SCG Events – Delaware North at Sydney Cricket Ground + Allianz Stadium
Industry experience: 13 years

Give us a snap shot of your events career? 
Having worked in five star hotels while at University and for a year in London, I took off to the South of France, where I discovered the Super Yacht industry. Enjoying eight years working around the world, I returned to Australia [post 9/11] and landed the new Melbourne office-role of Conference +Incentive Sales Executive at Cable Beach Club Resort, Broome WA - still my favourite Australian Resort… This is where my passion for our Events Industry started, and I have since worked in many facets of our dynamic industry, culminating in selling Sydney venues: I am delighted to sell our fine food and wine within Sydney’s newest event spaces at the Sydney Cricket Ground + Allianz Stadium. Many Sydney-siders don’t realise they can host amazing corporate -and private-events around the hallowed turf of their own Sydney Cricket Ground. It belongs to you, Sydney – come experience it!
 
Best event you ever worked on and why?
May I say, my most personal event was the inaugural Ocean Swim I created with (the late) Murray Rose OAM. I had the privilege to present my idea to the board of the charity he was a Patron of: The Rainbow Club, and work with Murray on every detail of the event: acquiring Sponsors, website, rules, regulations and logistics. I’m proud to say the event continues into its eighth year on the oceanswims.com calendar, now named the Murray Rose Malabar Magic.
 
The theme for International Women’s Day 2015 is 'Make it Happen'. When have you had to 'make it happen' against all odds? 
Ooh: one event comes to mind! Working for the Mint Organization on the BMW + Mini stand at the inaugural Shanghai Motorshow [2005], the caterers for our BMW cocktail party had been denied access into the venue. I remember physically holding back 100,000 Chinese to open the gate for the truck! Talk about intense!
 
What are three personality traits you have that allow you to succeed in the events industry?
Tenacity, adaptability and my innate ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ belief that all will work out(!)
 
If you could share one piece of good advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Go for it. Don’t let anyone quash your self-belief. You have what it takes. Back yourself.
 
Last question… On the day of the event when the guests are there are you in heels or flats?
Both. Dashing between Allianz Stadium to the other side of the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground, I have worn out a few pairs of heels and flats, already.
 


Don't forget, we would love to hear from you too – when have you had to 'make it happen' against all odds? Add your comments below.