A Day in the Life of an Events Professional

The Diploma of Event Management prepares students for a wide range of career paths. These range from conference and event coordinators, event or exhibition planner, staging coordinator, venue coordinator, function manager, the list goes on. According to the training.gov.au website “Events, today are diverse in nature, and a Diploma in Event Management prepares you to work for event or exhibition organisations in a range of industries including tourism and travel, hospitality, sport, cultural and community sectors.” Employers include event or exhibition management companies, event venues or organisations that coordinate their events. The work environment may be in an office where event planning takes place or on-site at the event venue or a combination of both.

Wearing Multiple Hats

Deanne Musa is a Venue Manager at Chirnsides By the River (part of the Werribee Football Club) in Werribee, Victoria. At Chirnsides she manages and plans a wide range of events including birthday parties, sporting club events and fundraisers, weddings, education classes, funerals, wakes and corporate events. “I’ve got a modern corporate venue that’s great for all different types of events,” Deanne explained. “That’s important with venues, to know where your marketplace is.”

A team of one and Deanne wears all the hats. She’s responsible for marketing, event planning, business management, development, IT, human resources and quality control. The buck stops with her.

Deanne manages her time by having actions scheduled into her calendar, so she doesn’t forget to plan for anything. She uses reoccurring events to trigger actions and reminders and extensive spreadsheets for managing upcoming event bookings. “You’ve got to balance time between clients, building sales, marketing.”

How it All Began

Deanne studied an Advanced Diploma in Business Management and specialised in Event Management. She was in year 12 and struggling with thoughts of her future when her Mum suggested she’d be good at Event Management. Her careers counsellor recommended a school in Brisbane and off Deanne went. “I think in any course you do; if you have a good teacher or someone who has a wealth of information, they can explain processes better.” Deanne believes that study is a necessary foundation but that “experience is vital,” in the events business. Deanne volunteered at the Brisbane Riverfire event as part of her course which gave her experience in large scale event planning and coordination.

After completing her study, Deanne made a cold call to someone she knew of, at Gabbinbar Homestead in Toowoomba. Gabbinbar is an award-winning wedding venue in Toowoomba, Queensland. As Deanne described it, “someone gave me a shot. But I took a pay cut, and it was a bit of a risk.” Told, they couldn’t guarantee her employment after 3-6 months, Deanne took the chance, “I think you have to be, in events, willing for that.”

Deanne started as a Wedding Planner at Gabbinbar, but her role involved a lot of business development as well. During her five years there she rose to the position of Manager, in charge of approximately 30 staff. Gabbinbar won the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year award in 2016 when Deanne was Manager there. They have subsequently won QLD’s best Wedding Caterer 2019. She regards this position as her career highlight so far, and the continued growth of Gabbinbar since she has left continues to give her pride in their achievements. “I know they’ve been even busier since I’ve left, that’s exciting as well because that’s still part of my heritage.”

Not all Wedding Roses

One of her worst failures on the job was when she was asked to hang a fairy lights roof over an outdoor ceremony area for a night wedding. “I had planned it out, hired poles to hang the fairy light nets on and scheduled staff to assist. Then on the night of the installation after the previous wedding, I started the process of hanging the lights. It was dark, raining and late at night. The whole concept wasn’t working, and I was wasting staff hours on holding poles up etc. At 3 am I decided I had failed and best to tell the client that fact for their wedding the next day. I was very frustrated at myself as I believe I had planned and thought it through; however, it was my first lighting installation, and it taught me a lot. The evening of their wedding it was raining hard, so they had the ceremony indoors anyway, the client wasn’t upset in the end. All that effort, worry and money spent on wages for nothing.”

The toughest challenge she’s had to solve was an upset bride and groom after the fireworks failed to work at a pivotal moment in their wedding day. “They were vocally mad, and I felt terrible. It was a moment that they couldn’t get back or redo, so it was awkward. We offered a full discount, and we negotiated with the supplier to not charge us on this occasion, even though that’s the risk of fireworks.”

Creating Joyful Experiences

For Deanne, the most exciting part of being an event manager is when she sees the joy on the face/s of her clients. “Such a pleasure to be hospitable and being paid for it. The perk of event management is being part of a team and creating wonderful experiences for others. “

Event management has given her an understanding of what it means to be multi-skilled. “You’re thinking about different elements of the event that are occurring at that time and being ahead of the game for the future elements of the event. Meanwhile dealing with staff and that catering is on point.”

An important skill Deanne has learned is to defuse a situation when a client is unhappy with an element of their event. How to tone down that element, so it’s not as important. “That’s vital, and I’m thankful for that skill.”

Practical Advice for Students

Deanne believes practical experience is everything for students, “because you’re physically doing something, you have to deal with customers, which is one of the biggest challenges.” Her advice to students starting, “Say yes to everything when it comes to events. When you say the word no to clients, then they have turned off. Everything is possible for the right money. If you go in with yes, I can do that chocolate fondue bar along the entire front of all the tables, but it’s going to cost you $10,000. Don’t say no, be realistic and say that sounds awesome. I can’t wait. I hope we can achieve that.”

“It’s a great industry. Everyone has events now. I think it’s a bright future job industry.”

Reserve Your Spot in the Industry

According to seek.com.au the average salary of an Event Coordinator is $61,000 per annum, which is the same as a Wedding Coordinator at a larger wedding venue according to The Wedding Planner Institute, The Australian Government Job Outlook for Conference and Event Organisers predicts strong future growth with lower unemployment and 71% of employees in full-time positions higher than the average of 66%. The number of jobs in the industry has almost doubled in the past ten years. They predict that over the next five years there will be approximately 29,000 job openings which is about 5800 per year. This job requires a skill level equal to an Associate Degree, Advanced Diploma or Diploma or at least three years of relevant experience is usually needed. Experience or on the job training is required even with a qualification. It’s vitally important for students to get as much practical experience as possible and to use their networks to help find an opportunity in the industry. A SIT50316 Diploma in Event Management is the best steppingstone to a rewarding career.