Industry talks: 6 industry pros share their ‘starting-out’ story

Startup Stories

We have a whole bunch of guest lecturers from industry coming through the college to impart the knowledge and experience with our students. They come from different backgrounds, different event management companies in different sectors but they all have one thing in common… they love working in events! And no question time is complete without at least one student asking, ‘So, how did you get to where you are now?’ And inevitably they all have all had varied and interesting event career trajectories. We thought it might be fun to share a few here…

Belinda Collins

Belinda Collins

Director and Event Producer, The Social Crew – Read Belinda’s bio here.

I grew up in the country and after completing my VCE, Business College and a Travel Degree, I worked as a Senior Legal Assistant for about 5-6 years in Commercial Litigation. After a brief switch to Financial Planning, I realised that the academic stuff was great for saving money, but I missed the creative angles I enjoyed at school. When I was about 25, I had a career change and started working in events part time. I was thirsty for travel so packed my CV and hit the road. The really huge projects kicked off when I arrived in London and for the next 7 years, I expanded my portfolio across Europe, America, Canada and South Africa.


Jon Corbishley

Director, The Safety Officer – Read Jon’s bio here.

By pure chance I was offered an opportunity to join a tour with one day’s notice due to someone not turning up. Travelling through Europe with a popular boy band in the 80’s dealing with the safety and security of thousands of screaming girls was a very steep learning curve and I learnt an awful lot in a very short time. I’ve since done stadium shows, festivals theatres, sports and in fact any event where crowds gather. When I started my own consultancy I was privileged to be appointed to plan and manage the crowd safety for her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in London attended by over 1.6 million people. I’ve worked at most of the major venues and with some of the worlds biggest artists and I can honestly say that I love every minute of it. It’s the best job in the world.


Laura Salvatore

Event Services, Melbourne – Read Laura’s bio here.

After completing my Diploma of Event Management, I bounced around in a freelance capacity for a few years. I made strong connections and relied heavily on my network to move from producing not for profit conferences, to delivering festival activations, and managing 800 volunteers for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Ceremonies. I spent a bit more time in the experiential world before landing a full time job at Imagination Melbourne in 2014. This year I started teaching and I’m absolutely loving sharing my knowledge and experience with such super keen students!


Julie van der Weegan

Director of Sales, Urban Purveyor Group – Read Julie’s bio here.

I’ve spent my entire career in the hospitality industry in one capacity or another and held senior roles across Australasia & Europe, the past 10 years I’ve concentrated my speciality in event venue and catering sales and marketing. Prior to joining Urban Purveyor Group in 2013, I built substantial credentials under Doltone House Group where I spent nearly six years managing and growing the sales and events teams, reporting directly to the CEO and board. At Urban Purveyor Group I’ve contributed to driving the rapid growth of the business as part of the companies Senior Leadership Team, including leading an events, catering and group reservation division that is on track to double in size in the next 24 months. This is in line with the group’s vision to be the largest casual dining and entertainment group in Australia.

Mandi Ford

Mandi Ford

Director, Lifestyle Solutions – Read Mandi’s bio here.

Moving to Sydney on the week that it was announced that we had won the bid for the Olympic games was an amazing time. I was working in marketing at the time and was offered a role at a brand new event company that was setting up in Sydney and I thought why not try this for a short period. That was was 23 years ago and I am still working in this incredibly creative and dynamic world of events.


Kelly Abeleven

Building Biologist, Building Biology NSW – Read Kelly’s bio here.

A wonderful journey which has included many great opportunities, experiences, hard work, luck, diversity and challenge. Starting in the private industry then spending many years working for the NSW Government and now running my own business, I am filled with gratitude as to the journey this industry has taken me on.

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