Lecturing Legend: Garth Lategan

Garth Lategan

What a special soul is Garth Lategan? A guy with a big heart and an even larger appetite for life, Garth came to us through our guest lecture program and fortuitously (for us) stayed!! He is now a much loved and integral part of our Melbourne team. Garth is the quintessential ‘jack-of-all-trades’ when it comes to event management. He brings a huge amount of personal and professional experience with him, a wealth you can’t find in a textbook and a great thing for students lucky enough to be in his lectures. We hope you enjoy reading about what makes Garth tick…

Q. Can you give a brief description of your career trajectory?
A. I started my event career in London in 1993 hosting events and functions for an upmarket venue in the city. I came back to Australia in 1996, ended up running events in night clubs and working in outdoor music festivals. I loved every minute of it so I decided to leave my accounting career and start my own event company in 1999 called Smile Police Productions. We ran a variety of night club dance parties within Melbourne from 1999-2004 which were great, but my true love was in outdoors festivals so I moved into a full time role within the management team at the Rainbow Serpent Festival. That gig lasted from 1999-2012. My latest venture is running World Vegan Day Melbourne which started out with 80 people at Albert Park Lake. It’s now the largest vegan festival in Australian and the third largest in the world! Ironically I’m not vegan, but I have a deep passion for growing things from a seedling into a magical tree that bears fruit for everyone to share.

Q. What do you love most about working in events?
A. Solving massive problems then passing that knowledge onto the next person. Seeing people take off their mask and experiencing joy, happiness and sadness in its purest form. Variety. Outside the 9 to 5. Growing as a person and improving what I do with each new event. Meeting inspiring people that push their own boundaries.

Q. Favourite event you have worked on and why?
A. My favorite event is the Rainbow Serpent Festival. Not only did it give me all the tools and education I needed to run an event on a large scale but I was fortunate enought to be part of an event from the early days and see it grow. I’ve used that knowledge to grow other events and festivals that are still around today.

Q. Tips to get a job in the event management industry?
A. Network, network, network, network. Smile, then network some more. Have a great attitude to life and work/play. If all else fails start you own event company which means you’re still going to have to network, network, network.

Q. Tips to be an awesome event manager?
A. Do all the neccessary paper work and afterwards you can play. Learn from those who have already achieved what you want to do, then do it better.

Q. What are some obstacles you’ve encountered along the way?
My own beliefs about what I can do and offer the world. And saying no to projects.

Q. Career highlights?
A. It’s always a highlight when I’m out and about and people stop to say hello and thank me for all the wonderful memories that they experience at the events I have been part of.

Q. How would you define success?
A. Success for me is being aware of every breath I take. Everything after that is a bonus and a blessing.

Q. What’s one piece of advice you would tell your younger event manager self?
A. As you move up in your career respect the people you work with because they will pass you when you’re on the way down.

Q. What do you look for when hiring new people for your team?
A. Are they a great communicator and can they meet deadlines? Are they willing to learn and ask questions? Can they use a mobile phone to ask for help? Do they understand the difference between making excuses and taking responsibility? How do they respond to situations in their life? Would they do the job for nothing? e.g. have they got volunteering on the resume?

Q. How do you think the event industry will evolve in the next 10 years?
A. Nicer venues. More compliance. More professional as the industry matures. As we become more connected with Facebook, mobile phones, computers and the internet there will be a surge of events that will be tech free and digital detox escapes and weekend retreats. Patrons will want to truly connect with other human beings. We will have a rise in depression and a decrease in emotional intelligence which while spawn a new generation of events that have purpose, meaning and connection. It’s already started but it’s very underground, just the way a movement should start.

Want to meet more of our wonderful lecturing legends? Head over to our staff page →


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