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Getting to know Bethany Fitzpatrick
Give us a snap shot of your career to date.
With a Masters of Management behind me, I started out in the world of public events, working for the City of Parramatta on major festivals. I loved the variety of this role because it gave me experience in managing a huge range of different and challenging events. I worked with a lot of different people from artists, lighting designers, musicians and performers to logistics, risk and safety experts, and learnt something from them all. Moving on to a different pace and motivation, I joined OzHarvest to work in a different space and for an organisation that has such an important purpose.
What is the most memorable event you have worked on and why?
The OzHarvest CEO Cookoff. As the event manager of the 8th OzHarvest CEO Cookoff, I felt so lucky to be involved in such an iconic event that has made such a large impact to many people over the years. Being able to take a moment during the event and watch all the guests, business leaders, chefs, staff and volunteers all having a great night was a special moment. During planning for this event I was constantly taken by surprise by people’s continued generosity and willingness to help, as they knew how important the outcome was, which was really amazing.
What did you ‘learn the hard way’ when planning an event?
Don’t just assume. Ask all the questions and get as many details as you can. It’s much harder to deal with surprises once you get onsite!
What are three personality traits that you think are required to succeed in the events industry?
Flexibility, discipline, and creativity.
If you could share one piece of advice to those starting out in the industry what would it be?
Don’t be above doing any job onsite – even if it seems small, and make sure you understand all the aspects of an event and how they all work, especially on large scale events. Understanding how everything works even if you don’t need to do it yourself will make you a better and more creative producer.
How would your friends describe your job?
I’m not sure most people really know what I do day to day because it varies so much (my days sometimes even surprise me!) but I think they think it’s challenging, probably pretty stressful, and fulfilling.
Describe yourself in two words?
How do you unwind after a big event?
I actually find it very hard to unwind after an event. Normally, it takes bump-out to be complete before I can relax and really acknowledge that it all went well! But once it’s over, I love to recap with the team and hear about everyone’s experiences. There’s always a funny story. A glass of wine doesn’t hurt either.
Words to live by?
Lead by example.
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
Designing and creating new experiences for existing events, which is the biggest challenge but also the most fun and the most rewarding.
Where do you go for creative inspiration?
A great restaurant that’s doing new creative things with food, a new exhibition at a gallery or to see something new at a theatre. Anywhere I’ll experience something creative that reminds me to re-think the experiences I am delivering.
When entertaining at home what do you cook?
Always shared feasts – and probably something from an Ottolenghi book! It brings people together and creates a relaxed atmosphere.
Best event you’ve been to as a guest?
Sleep No More in New York City – it wasn’t really an event but a totally modern theatre experience. The whole audience experience from the very beginning was themed and executed perfectly. It was the kind of experience that stays with you, and that you want to bring to your own events.
What do you prefer, cocktail party or sit-down dinner?
Sit down, with a shared meal. I think people relax and open up more.
What’s your drink of choice at an event?
Water! If I’m at work. If it’s not my event, champagne.
It’s event day – heels or flats?
Flats, always. Heels don’t really go with my high vis.
Best event styling tip?
Always try to choose an interesting space and use good lighting to highlight the features.
Why do you love your job?
I get to meet and work with really creative and interesting people all the time. And create experiences that bring all sorts of different people together to celebrate the same thing.