Karen Thomson

Our Team

Meet our team and our associates

Boris Kelly

Co-owner / Managing Director

Boris hails from a background in theatre which became a natural segue into the world of event management. After running his own successful event company over 15 years, Boris decided to impart his vast industry knowledge through teaching. He established College of Event Management with his colleague Annie Shillington in 2011.

What were you doing before coming to CoEM?

Working in events and thinking about opening an event management college. Also, a lot more swimming and writing than I do at the moment.

What is your favourite event you’ve attended?

Holi Festival in India. It’s the original Colour Run.

What event is on your bucket list?

I have two:
New Yorker Festival – the ultimate in highbrow New Yorkery
FIFA World Cup Final – the ultimate in global footballery

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

The staff, students and industry partners at College of Event Management; my family; Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo; and my Feldenkrais physio.

If you were a cocktail what would you be and why?

Extra dry martini with a twist. Shaken. Because I wish I could be that good and that simple.

What kind of celebration would there be on a “St. YOU” day?

A long, loud, absurdly entertaining, juke-joint themed and delicious outdoor lunch with a superbly executed wet weather contingency.

Annie Shillington

Co-owner. Manager Sales and Marketing

In 2012, Annie and business partner Boris Kelly opened the doors to College of Event Management. Previously, she experienced life in the areas of entertainment, graphic design, publishing and adult education. She loves the process of helping people change their lives for the better through (life) education.

What were you doing before coming to CoEM?

Co-owning another private college, writing life histories, designing magazines and running around after kiddies (not all at the same time).

What is your favourite event you’ve attended?

Sculptures by the Sea (Sydney) at dawn. I love to look at art in a natural setting rather than a gallery situation.

What event is on your bucket list?

Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. What looks like the right mix of crazy and politeness.

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

The CoEM team of course, they are all incredible. But at the moment I'm mad about botanical illustration, namely the botanical illustrations of Edith Rewa whom I stumbled upon in the Design Files. Her art is particularly gorgeous, so Australian, yet so fresh.

If you were a cocktail what would you be and why?

Aperol Spritz. Bubbly and colourful on the outside, a hint of bitterness on the inside. Ha!

What kind of celebration would there be on a 'St. YOU' day?

St. Anne’s Day? A carefree day in the countryside full of loving vibes, family, friends, sunshine, swimming, music, dancing, laughter. Would have to include an element of stupidity which bonds everyone together through awkwardness eg a maypole? A day/night where no one has a care in the world.

Ilana Larke

Online Course Coordinator

Ilana is a true all rounder, with 15 years experience in not-for-profit, catering, business events and freelancing for major clients. With a speciality in the area of event administration, Ilana is an energetic lecturer, Course Coordinator and our 24/7 Online Manager.

What were you doing before coming to CoEM?

I started my career in finance and stockbroking mainly because I didn’t know how to get into events even though it was my passion. Once I found the courses I needed and completed my Diploma, I went straight into an internship, followed by a full time job in the not-for-profit sector working as an event coordinator. It’s been full steam ahead ever since! I’ve worked in catering, in some of the most iconic venues in Sydney, weddings, private events, movie premieres, business events, worked as a freelance event manager, and now I get to pass on my knowledge through teaching.

What is your favourite event you’ve attended?

Vivid Sydney. The city comes alive, it brings people together, it’s magical and best of all it’s free!

What event is on your bucket list?

Burning Man – between the venue, the art and the performances it looks amazing!

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

My husband. To work from the bottom, up and be great at what you do is one thing. To still have the passion, together with the wisdom, puts it on a whole new level.

If you were a cocktail what would you be and why?

Espresso martini for my love of coffee.

What kind of celebration would there be on a 'St. YOU' day?

A very busy, non-stop celebration! A day where you get to make the most of experiences and meeting new people. Choose a destination you haven’t been to and experience it for the day. And lots of great coffee!

Miranda Copeland

Accounts Manager

Miranda brings years of experience to our finance and accounts department. She is across all aspects of college operations and has adopted additional titles such as office manager, social director, student confidant and nurturer.

What were you doing before coming to CoEM?

I’ve been doing accounts for years! Previously for a café, beauty salon, and an event company.

What is your favourite event you’ve attended?

I’m showing my age a little, but Bruce Springsteen in the 80’s in London was pretty amazing!

What event is on your bucket list?

It’s not really an event but I really want to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. A modern day Pilgrim walk to try and slow down the hectic pace I find myself living! I just need to find the time…

If you were a cocktail what would you be and why?

Ok. Not a big fan of cocktails. Rather partial to a Margarita or two at Tio’s but otherwise a chilled glass of dry white. I’m not sure how that reflects on me?? Am I really cold and dry?! God I hope not… haha!

What kind of celebration would there be on a 'St. YOU' day?

St. Miranda festival would include a big tent on the beach filled with live music, friends, food and fairy lights!

Alisa Angell

Office Manager – Sydney

Alisa has 12 years experience within such diverse roles as senior event manager, producer, marketing assistant and event sales. She currently does a wonderful job of managing our Sydney campus with efficiency and her particular brand of effervescence.

What were you doing before College of Event Management?

Working at Decorative Events and Exhibitions, Baby, Dr Sketchys Anti Art School – Producer.

What is your favourite event you’ve attended?

Oh it’s a tough one… Michael Jackson’s History Tour, An ‘Amazing Race’ in the Hunter Vallery… Helicopter Ride, Kung Fu Lessons and Cheese Master Class and Wine tasting all in one day! What more do you need?

What event is on your bucket list?

Glastonbury, Prince at Madison Square Gardens, Broadway, Carnival and the list goes on…

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

Amy Schumer.

If you were a cocktail what would you be and why?

A Bloody Mary – I’ll look after you when you don’t feel 100%.

What kind of celebration would there be on a ‘St. YOU’ day?

Music, wine and cheese by the sea.

Garth Lategan

Course Coordinator

Garth is a much loved and integral part of our Melbourne team and 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.

What were you doing before coming to CoEM

I was teaching at another college and working as the Event Manger for World Vegan Day Melbourne.

What is your favourite event you've attended?

My favourite event to attend is ConFest for its organic nature. It's one of the events I actually don't work on so I use it as time to reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead.

What event is on your bucket list?

No event is on my bucket list – I'm more about working on events that my students work on. That gives me so much joy and I bring those experiences into the class room.

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

Seeing my students grow into event managers and then seeing them in action after college using all the skills they have learned.

If you were a cocktail what would you be and why?

I don't drink, so it would have to be a mocktail with passion fruit because you need it to survive in this industry.

What kind of celebration would there be on a 'St. YOU' day?

St Garthy Garth Day would be a day of cleaning your house out and passing on products or goods that have not been used in 6 months to a charity or someone that needs it more.

Bonnie Kelly

Industry Engagement Coordinator
What were you doing before coming to CoEM?

I was working at Merivale, in the Head Office looking after VIP PACHA bookings and Bar Bookings across the group for 3 years. Then I worked on the opening of The Newport before moving to CoEM.

What is your favourite event you’ve attended?

NYE Lord Mayors Party at the Opera House.

What event is on your bucket list?

Holi Festival in India. India is somewhere I have always wanted to go and I would love to attend this event.

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

Low cost event suppliers making casual events and weddings amazing but affordable.

If you were a cocktail what would you be and why?

Pina Colada – Pineapples are clearly the coolest fruit.

Karen Thomson

Learning Facilitator

Karen’s event story started 20 years ago within the exhibitions and conferencing sector. She has progressed through the ranks to become a highly regarded project and operations specialist thriving on the management of people and projects.

As a result of her accomplished events career, Karen has become a natural and inspiring mentor and coach, particularly to those new to industry. By drawing on her innate ability to understand the needs of others, she inspires and empowers those she trains — a natural educator.

As part of her ultimate goal to unlock the potential in those around her, Karen has now joined College of Event Management as a regular learning facilitator.

What were you doing before coming to CoEM?

I have been consulting to a wide range of major events for the past six years including trade shows, expos, charity events and consumer events and festivals in areas of operations, production, talent management, partnership and stakeholder management and managing teams. Separately, I am also very fortunate to consult as a workplace and business coach which means I get to help people and businesses to develop, grow and reach their goals.

What is your favourite event you’ve attended?

So many to choose from! The 100th Anniversary of ANZAC Day Commemorations in Gallipoli was incredibly special. Also a friend’s destination wedding in Koh Samui, Thailand was an amazing week-long celebration. And up there as a favourite would have to be the 3rd row seats and backstage pass at my all-time favourite band’s concert back in 2012!

What event is on your bucket list?

New Years Eve in NYC. It is literally next on my bucket list.

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

Sarah Holloway or @spoonful_of_sarah and her Seize the Yay podcast. So many inspiring people!

If you were a cocktail what would you be and why?

Brandy Alexander – first sip can be a bit strong but by the second and third sips you get the warm and creamy calmness coming through. You’ve got to be strong to survive the events industry, but empathy is key!

What kind of celebration would there be on a 'St. YOU' day?

A day wouldn’t possibly be enough! It would be a week-long annual festival in a different destination each year. Lots of blue sky, relaxation, laughter, music, great wine & cocktails, quality coffee, and icecream. Enjoyed with all your friends and family but with no watches allowed. Sleep when tired, eat when hungry, dance when your favourite tune plays and a mandatory massage every day. Who’s in?