In a sentence, tell us your job description, and what you do
Project director of special events and major events, I basically deal in madness.
Do you specialize, or have a particular niche?
I Specialize in time critical management, with a high attention to detail, across multi-functional teams, whilst managing the technical, creative and budgetary elements of the project.
How did you get into that career?
I started as a DJ when I was 16 in traralgon and though out Gippsland for around 10 years, this lead me to Melbourne and I moved in to the production side of the dance party industry, I then began in the corporate events and conference side to gain more regular income. This lead to me to New Zealand where I was employed as a technical Director in a small Production Company.
I spent about 8 months in NZ, before returning to Melbourne, to peruse freelancing work as a technical director. I work around Australia and Asia for the next 6 years gaining experience in the delivery of all types of corporate and special events. In 2008 I was offered a role for a Large Communication Agency in Dubai as the Technical Manager, This is where I was exposed to the real madness of events, with unbelievable short Time frames and major budgets and I was bitten. I then moved to one of the premiere Special events companies of the region and the madness just grew.
Did you need to do some specialist study?
No my career is based on experience, however I would suggest anyone wishing to enter the major events field at least do a recognized events management course, you need to be a very calm person under stress, and you must be very good with numbers and budgets.
How long have you been doing this now?
20 plus years
What type of clients do you work for?
Royals, Governments, Multi nationals, NGO’s, Celebrates, Olympics, Heads of State.
Where do you work from / where are you located?
I am based out of Dubai, I spend most of my time in the Mid-East Region, but I do work all over the world
What companies or people have you worked for?
IN the last twelve months I have worked with, or for the Following:
Shinzō Abe — Japanese Prime minister
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi
Qatar Olympic Committee
Sheikh Mohammed ruler of Dubai
Queen Rania of Jordan
François Hollande — French President
David Cameron — British Prime minister
What would a typical working day involve?
Budgets, meetings, more budgets, more meetings, hundreds of emails and lots of phone calls.
What kind of people do you get to work with?
I get to work with a full range of people, from creative all the way to accountants.
Can you tell us a little about your workspace or working environment?
My workspace is my head, I spend a large portion of my time traveling and working abroad, so my head and my laptop are my work space.
Anything special you keep nearby or things you use for inspiration?
iPhone loaded with lots of music.
Would you consider your work fun? What about your job is fun?
My work is fun, mad and stressful all at the same time. You need to be a warped mind set to do what I do, the fun of my job is the unknown, and I can get calls quite often where I say “you want me to do what” ok then we will give it a go. Also spending crazy amounts of money to get things done.
What kind of challenges must you overcome in your work?
My biggest challenge is normally time, and how to compress it.
What are some of the most impressive things you have done in your career?
Some of the more impressive things I have done though out my career.
I was appointed Project director of the state visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Abu Dhabi by the royal family.
I was the Project Director of Qatar First Olympic House at the London Games,
I am on call for three royal families with in the Mideast Region.
I was involved with the Bill Gates Foundation which has raised around 4 billion dollars towards the eradication of Polio.
I have taken Gwyneth Paltrow shopping in Dubai.
I meet and worked with Mohammed Ali
Can you share any stories about glamorous/impressive projects?
I can tell a story of the Queens state visit, where I was in a hour long meeting with around 30 very high ranking people, discussing the movement of the Queens shoes from where she entered the grand mosque to where she was exiting the grand mosque. One of the stranger meetings I have had.
Have you won any awards or prizes?
Many projects that I have worked on have received prizes and industry awards
Have you worked with any famous people?
Way too many to name.
Do you get to travel with your job (please provide some information)?
In the last 12 months I have had more than 90 international flights and clocked more than a 160 nights in hotels. My advice become a member of a frequent flyer program and a hotel program.
This is one of the better perks of my job. Plus you save a lot of time at checkin and you get upgraded a lot.
Are there any other special perks you’re willing to share?
General when you work overseas for companies you pay for nothing and you have an expense account for entertaining clients. It is a great saving plan, work so much that you don’t have any time to spend it.
Where did you grow up in Gippsland? Or where do you live?
What school/s did you go to?
When I was there. Liddard road Primary School, Traralgon High School, I did a short stint at Gippsland Grammar.
What are your fondest memories of living in Gippsland / favorite things about living in Gippsland?
The people, my friends and mischief I got up too when I was a teenager.
What kind of challenges did you have to overcome to get onto this career path?
I was a trouble teen, I was sent to a boy’s home not once but twice, I had my brushes with the law as well. I didn’t complete high school, but I was given opportunities by people in Gippsland, TRFM was one of the companies which gave me a start, I worked at Traralgon Special School for 3 years as an integration Aide, whilst I was DJing 4 and 5 nights a week and this job taught me that life can always be worse and not to get hang up on the small stuff. My motto is you will never know unless you give it a go.
Any person that has gained some success in the field their of endeavour, will tell you that they all started from some where.
Were there any special teachers or mentors that made a lasting impression on you, even into your career?
A teacher at Traralgon High named Mr. Joseph told me I would amount to nothing, I have loved proving him wrong.
A good friend and mentor is Rick Burch, he has reached the very top of the major events game.
What subjects did you do at school, or what things did you do locally as a kid that may have led you to this career?
When I was actually there, I did Maths A&B, Physics, Chem, English, PE.
But I would say this about school, I flew back to Australia for one day, last year to attend a meeting at my son’s school in Traralgon, to sit and listen to a teacher tell my son and myself, that he needed to conform and do well in his subjects, if he wanted a better life. After listening to this for 30 minutes, I asked him to quantify his statement and define what a better life was. He proceed to tell me that getting a degree and buying a house and raising a family was what he considered a better life too be.
Now this is fine if this is what you want, however conforming to normal, will not make you excel. You have to take risks, you have to think outside the box, I explained to him, he disagreed with me. So I went back to the Airport that night and got on my flight and flew back to my non conforming life.
Even if you don’t do well in school, you can go on to do crazy amazing things…
What was your first job out of school?
DJ at the Astrodome when I was 16
Can you tell us about when you first left Gippsland and why?
To follow a girl and to this day, she is still my girl.
How did your life change after you left Gippsland?
It was hard to start with, I work hard and learnt my trade.
What kind of things did you get up to when you were young who lead you to the career path you have now?
I enjoyed what I did, I loved DJing and still do it as a hobby. Working in night clubs taught me about things like branding, brand experience, marketing, cash management and staffing, budgeting and this is the foundation of what I do today.
What are the best things going for Gippsland?
The people and the life style. When you have traveled the world and seen what other people have and don’t have you realize that you where lucky to be born in Australia and in Gippsland.
What are the biggest things Gippsland lacks?
The will to change, I travel home a bit and Traralgon and Gippsland don’t seem to change very much.
How could our area improve to support young people trying to get a career in a creative field?
A mentor program, or internships
What things were missing when you lived here to help support your interests?
In what I do, I do think anywhere in the world has a course for my role.
Put a good place to start is in a decent event management course.
Do you still have connections with Gippsland?
Yes many, my son and mother still live in Gippsland, as well as many friends
Do you come back and if so how regularly?
Yes I do, once a year at least
Where do you get inspiration from?
I don’t know, but I enjoy a challenge.
What kind of things do you need to keep track of to do your job well? How do you maintain working at such a high level?
Technology, entertainment trends, design trends, branding stragties, marketing, social and cyber approaches, world events.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into a career like yours?
Don’t do it unless your mad and you enjoy stressful situations.
Can you recommend some good books/magazines/websites for people looking to find out more about your profession?
CX Magazine, Sound and Stage, Event Design