Lecturing Legend – Caroline Kennon
Introducing Caroline Kennon, event designer, artistic director, Jack (Jill?) of all trades and our next featured Lecturing Legend. Caroline came to the college from a particularly interesting and wildly varied background. No nine-to-five for this lady, no siree. Apart from excelling as a natural and gifted educator, Caroline is also the queen of freelance which allows her to continue to work in the event industry on a wide range of projects, “creating memorable experiences” as she goes. So without further ado, let’s get to know a little more about Caroline’s eventful life…
Q: Can you give a brief description of your career trajectory?
A: Yikes – how to keep this brief! My very first gig out of high school was as Rehearsal Manager for the Australian Youth Choir in Perth – organising rehearsals, managing conductors and arranging concerts. I studied a Bachelor of Arts Management at WAAPA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts), but being the impatient kid I was, I left after 2 years to work full-time in the creative industry. Over the years I’ve worked as a copywriter, a marketing executive for a university, events and fundraising for non-for-profit organisations until I stepped out on my own and launched my own business, The Creative Type, specialising in weddings and special event styling. Around this time I also started hosting ‘Goals’, ‘Mindfulness’ and ‘DIY workshops’ for kikki.K and taking freelance contracts for event design and styling. I have done so many other random fabulous things in between – I could go on forever…
Q: What do you love most about working in events?
A: The variety. It has to be the difference that every day brings. I also LOVE problem-solving. Feeling the pressure of being the person to make a decision, and knowing that you have the ability to do that. I also LOVE the creative aspect of events. Bringing a vision to life and hearing gasps or “wow!”s from attendees is all the thanks I need!
Q: Favourite event you have worked on and why?
A: Always a hard question. Some weddings I’ve done have been so wonderful because I’ve remained great friends with the couple after such a journey together. Some events I remember because of the joy the attendees got out of them – far beyond my experience in bringing them to life. And some I remember just because we got through them!
Q: Tips to get a job in the event management industry?
A: Learn everything you can. Ask questions. Knowledge is power, but it’s also your toolkit. Networking should be looked at as “connecting with new colleagues”, as opposed to just finding people to hoist yourself up with. Make real connections and these will see you through your career. Be open to trying new things and these can open up the doors to your dream gig.
Q: Tips to be an awesome event manager?
A: Start with respect. Be open to talking to everyone on an event, from the guys building sets to the keynote speakers. Know that collaboration is a strength, and that everyone deserves respect – even if you don’t like them! Work on your RBF (resting b*tch face). Smile and offer solutions, not empty promises. Bring the energy to the room. And thank everyone that should be thanked.
Q: What are some obstacles you’ve encountered along the way?
A: My age often got in the way – I had to prove myself above and beyond someone who might be a bit older than me in my earlier career because I looked young. Having to chair a committee of wealthy baby boomers at 25 was a great insight into the importance of how to communicate your leadership capabilities and authority effectively. I also think just starting your own business and creating something out of nothing is a big challenge!
Q: Career highlights?
A: A huge Hipster/Hindu wedding festival that crossed days, religions, cultures and venues. I was swept up in the dancing on the final night and felt like part of a huge Indian family! My first featured shoots in national blogs were also exciting!
Q: How would you define success?
A: Firstly, the definition of success is different for everyone. To be successful in life might mean being a CEO to some people, but for others a measure of success is how they connect with family and friends. So perhaps a combination of the two would be my definition of success. Having your eye on the things we can learn from our past, with a strong sense of where you want to go, balanced by a mindfulness that every moment is precious and to take time to smell the roses.
Q: Who/what inspires you?
A: Creatively, I’m inspired by people who are passionate and open with their craft. I am constantly amazed by what my friends and family create, both with their hands, their hearts and their minds. I’m inspired by people who want to share their gifts with the next generation and mentor and guide.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you would tell your younger event manager self?
A: Be bold but be kind. Know that every path is a journey and be cool with the times you have to sacrifice creativity for money and vice versa! Maybe save more too!
Q: What do you look for when hiring new people for your team?
A: I look for energy, initiative and the ability to communicate well. Being confident with your words and your abilities is important, but so is knowing that learning is a huge component of becoming the best you can be!
Q: How do you think the event industry will evolve in the next 10 years?
A: I think the experiential age is just beginning, with people making a return to connecting with people in real time. More niche events to represent the diverse nature of society.