Lecturing Legend – Caitlin Crowley

This might sound biased but we reckon we have some of the best event management teachers going around. And while they look like mere mortals in plain clothes, they are, in fact event management super heroes who
a) are experts in their particular fields
b) have done the industry hard yards
c) know the insider info that really makes a difference to a student’s job prospects and
d) are keen to impart years of wisdom and expertise to whoever will listen and learn.

With that in mind we thought it was about time to get a little more intimate with each one of our lecturing legends and what better way than a simple Q and A session. First cab off the rank is Caitlin Crowley, Diploma course coordinator at our Melbourne campus, all round amazing event education enthusiast and ‘tough love’ mother figure.

Q. Caitlin, how many years have you worked in the event management industry?
A. I worked in tourism and events for over ten years before I switched to becoming a tourism and events educator. I never imagined I would fall in love with teaching, but I did!

Q. What do you love most about working in event management?
A. Working with hardworking people. Also, the part when it’s all over and everything went to plan and I can take my shoes off and enjoy a cup of tea.

Q. What’s your favourite event that you have worked on?
A. It was an industry cruise I produced for the Spirit of Tasmania. The ship had been crossing Bass Strait for over a year and none of the travel industry in Melbourne had even seen it. We cruised the bay in Melbourne with over 500 industry guests and their families and a wild assortment of entertainers. It was the first time the ship had been used as a venue rather than transport and after that event, Sunday cruises became a regular part of the program.

Q. Have you encountered any obstacles during your career?
A. You will inevitably encounter obstacles in the event world but there is always a solution. I’m pretty good at finding a way through bureaucracy. My friends call this ‘Caitlin going guerrilla.’

Q. What’s your favourite event of all time?
A. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is top of my list. Any pub with an empty corner is turned into a venue, there are queues around blocks and Melbourne Town Hall as the festival hub is swarming with festival goers. It’s a comedy festival so people are out to laugh – everyone is smiling. There are over 400 shows on and most are under an hour so you can just pop in to a show after work or gorge on multiple shows throughout the evening. I saw over 60 shows one year!

Q. What’s the worst job you have had?
A. I produced a gala dinner where the venue manager and head of catering hated each other and it got ugly over the bain marie at midnight. I managed to break it up somewhere between the broken plates and the stained shirtfronts.

Q. Tell us one of your career highlights?
A. I really loved working in the Northern Territory and being able to spend time producing events there was definitely a highlight. You could do amazing things with the natural environment like hosting black tie dinners under the night sky with a grand piano on a cattle station. I miss it. We don’t get a whole lot of call for that in Melbourne.

Q. What’s the biggest lesson you have learnt working in events?
A. You can never have too many pairs of comfortable shoes.

Q. Who inspires you?
A. I have a huge amount of respect for British singer/songwriter Billy Bragg. I have loved his music since I was a 15 year-old. I love that he is prepared to speak up for what he believes in and isn’t afraid to talk politics. I spoke at an event he was at earlier this year. Afterwards he shook my hand and told me I made a great speech. I can now die happy.

Please don’t do that Caitlin. We want you to have a long and happy life at CoEM and continue to share your wise insights and your vast experience with our students. And more importantly, we would really miss those great cupcakes you make too!

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