Paula Brodie, Project Manager, VenuesLive NSW

This year Venue Management Association Congress has taken on a different format to previous years, with live and virtual sessions on offer in different cities. All planned to be flexible in the ever-changing Covid landscape we are living in.  Good planning as at the time of writing, due to the lockdown in Melbourne, the Melbourne event has now been postponed.

The Sydney Congress was held at Qudos Bank Arena on Thursday 3 June with a small group of VenuesLive staff representing.  Kicking off the afternoon the first session was Building Positive Workplace Cultures facilitated by VenuesLive alumni Rebecca Barry (now at ASM Global), Gail Symons, Human Resources Executive and Piers Thompson, Australian Turf Club.

Debbie Hogan (Head of Staffing Operations and Services) gives us her takeaways from the session.

Gail Symons with inspirational, advice with a practical approach – very refreshing!  Building a positive workplace culture will develop the capability of an organisation through diversity and inclusion of all employees. This needs to be a conscious, deliberate and planned effort which is engaging and fun.

The keynote address on Leadership & Resilience was from Shane Fitzsimmons, Commissioner for Resilience NSW.  In NSW we’re all familiar with Shane as he was the Rural Fire Services Commissioner through the tragic 2019/2020 fire season, who we all tuned into his daily press conference for updates.

Amanda Carbery (Venue Operations Manager) sums up his speech for us.

Shane’s speech was captivating and inspirational as he spoke about Leadership during the 2019-2020 bushfire season. He spoke about some of his key Leadership fundamentals which included understanding and acceptance of your own strengths and weaknesses, practising what you preach, honesty with your colleagues and that humility and empathy is critical. Respect is earnt by the actions you take after the decisions you make.

This year in Sydney, VenuesLive was represented on 2 different panels.  The first of which was Sue Max (GM, Venue Management) participating in the Managing Risk in Venues with Wayne Middleton (Reliance Risk), Stephen Davey (The Spark) and Lea Constantine (Ashurst).

Jeremy Wilkinson (Event Manager) provides us with an overview.

With Risk Management we were fortunate to have a broad panel of industry experts from someone who represents the Hirer (Steve), the venue (Sue) and a lawyer (Lea) who works in this space.  It was clear that ‘who is responsible for managing risk” is a grey area and in reality it is a shared responsibility by all involved in that event or operation within the event.  A key takeaway for me when dealing with risk was from Wayne, when he said ‘when it comes to reviewing risks you need to ask yourself ‘have you asked enough questions?.

Our second VenuesLive rep was Daryl Kerry on the Industry Leaders: Look to the future panel.  Jill Bright (People & Culture Business Partner) gives us the run down.

The last session of the day we heard from some key industry leaders. The panel consisted of Adam Mather-Brown from the ICC Sydney, Geoff Jones from TEG Live, Louise Herron from the Sydney Opera House, our very own Daryl Kerry and was facilitated by Tim Worton from ASM Global. Some key takeaways were the lessons learnt from the past twelve months which I am sure we can all relate to including learning to be agile and flexible, building business resilience and collaborating in a highly competitive world.

The opportunity to watch the recorded webinars over the next few weeks is a fantastic bonus. Having already taken in one session on ‘Attraction & Retention: How to re-engage with casual staff’, an interesting listen on the current staffing challenges in the venue and hospitality, there is much to take in over the next few weeks.  For those interested, check out the VMA Asia Pacific YouTube page for recordings of the previous sessions uploaded a week after each event.