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Getting to know Jason Lyons
Meet Jason Lyons. Currently the Head of Venue and Events at Roundhouse he has just returned from an extended stint working overseas. Starting his career as coach of the Australian Women’s Chess team he has used every opportunity to increase his technical and event knowledge to become the Event Pro he is today.
Jason is client focused and always ready to collaborate to make events at his venue truely great. He loves canapes, hats and styling events with a plant or two and is planning on cooking up a storm for his next dinner party!
So join us as we get to know another Event Pro, Jason Lyons…
Give us a snap shot of your career to date
My events career had a curious start: In the early 2000s I had been the coach of the Australian women’s chess team (true story!), and when chess was added to the sports program for the 2006 Doha Asian Games, a friend who was producing at the Games roped me in as the Events Manager for the chess competition.
I met a few Australian event specialists during the Games, who kindly lined me up with some Sydney Festival work, which gave me enough credit on a C.V. to land an event management role at UNSW, and freelance work with Cricket Australia, the Wallabies, the A-League, and Swimming Australia.
Those experiences landed me a full-time producer role with Great Big Events, one of the world leaders in sport presentation, and from 2014 – 2017 I produced and directed live sport for clients like the ICC (International Cricket Council), FINA (world swimming federation), the Commonwealth Games (Glasgow), Pan-American Games (Toronto), and the European Games (Azerbaijan).
When I heard about the scale of the redevelopment taking place at the Roundhouse, the opportunity to head up the relaunch and lead a team in a transformed space drew me back to Sydney in late 2017.
The most memorable event you have worked on and why?
Swimming World Cup, Eindhoven (The Netherlands), August 2017. Wonderful collaboration with a creative client who encouraged us to push the boundaries of crowd engagement: a live DJ, intelligent lighting, multiple LED screens around the venue, a temporary seating bay that was literally built into the end of the pool, live hosting in two languages on pool deck, and the world’s best swimmers totally immersed and engaged with the festival atmosphere we were driving.
What did you ‘learn the hard way’ when planning an event?
Early collaboration with clients make the best events! I’ve learnt that our clients often have the best vision for their event, and early collaboration always yields great results and successful events.
What are three personality traits that are required to succeed in the events industry?
- Inter-personal skills
Good communication with clients, suppliers, and stakeholders guides what your venue can deliver for clients, informs how suppliers can enhance events, and enables your staff to excel in creating memorable experiences for clients and their guests.
Understanding what our clients are trying to achieve informs a lot of how we mould our venue to work for an event. A venue’s metrics for success should align with those of the event organisers, and being able to listen and share their goals is a giant leap towards developing long-term relationships with clients.
Some events get pulled together in a week; others are 12 months or more in the planning. Understand your client’s timelines, and structure your event planning around that, setting guidelines and deadlines that work for all stakeholders.
If you could share one piece of advice to those starting out in the industry what would it be?
Upskill your technical capabilities at every opportunity! If a techie is setting up a DJ, patching lights, or plugging in a 3-phase distribution board, they’re usually happy to share their knowledge if you ask nicely.
If you could plan an event anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
Verona. I love Italy and they have some amazing Greco-Roman amphitheatres which would be brilliant to work with.
Favourite type of food?
Middle Eastern. From the tagines of Northern Africa, to the amazing dips (tahini, hummus, babaganoush!), to baklava and delicious rose-scented desserts, Middle Eastern cuisine is earthy, authentic, and diverse.
How would your friends describe your job?
I imagine my friends think that running events means lots of parties and canapes! I do like a good canape though …
How do you unwind after a big event?
I enjoy sharing a drink with the team. My brain doesn’t turn down for a while after a big event, so I enjoy the conversation of clients and colleagues who often have a tale to share of something entertaining that’s taken place during the event.
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
We’re in a new venue, so our biggest challenge in 2018 is to deliver events for our clients to a standard that generates repeat business. I love the clients we’ve worked with this year, and want them on board with us for the long term.
Where do you go for creative inspiration?
My first port of call for creative inspiration is my team. We have a great crew at Roundhouse with diverse backgrounds and interests, they excel when they step out of their comfort zone, and are a great sounding board for brainstorms and sparking ideas for how we can enhance what we do.
A recent dining highlight was eating at Luca, in London. Simple food, brilliantly executed. Tip: request the courtyard if the weather is favourable.
When entertaining at home what do you cook?
I like picking a cuisine and doing multiple courses of shared plates with friends. Having just come back from a little time in Italy, that’s going to be the inspiration for the next dinner party (especially seafood and Sicilian recipes).
Best event you’ve been to as a guest?
Bluesfest. Love the music, the site layout, and the Byron region. This festival attracts such a diverse range of attendees, from families, to concert-goers, to retirees, that it is inspiring to share a music experience with.
Best fashion tip?
Accessorise. I love to rock a hat, but choose your own adventure.
Best event styling tip?
Get creative with plants and florals. They can be expensive if you’re going all out with dining centrepieces, but some plants and floral accents through a room, and at highlight areas like a foyer or registration desk always give the venue a fresh touch.
What is the craziest request you have ever had when planning an event?
The band that asked us to source a kitten for them to play with in their dressing room.