Event Management: Lessons From Afar

14 March 2022

Our outgoing Event Manager, Eliza Vlasich, shares with us her lessons from working remotely for StudyPerth. During her time at StudyPerth, Eliza was responsible for pulling together memorable events for both our members and international student audience.

We will miss you dearly, Eliza!

My partner and I had wanted a lifestyle change for a while. We both come from regional Western Australia, so when the opportunity arose last year for my partner to accept a job in the beachside town of Esperance, we jumped at the chance.

‘Perfect,’ I thought, ‘I’ll quit my job in Perth, finish my studies in Esperance and finally have a break from this crazy, non-stop city life.’

While this dream was enticing, as a 26-year-old I was admittedly plagued with thoughts like ‘What if this break is the end of my events career?’ and ‘I’ve worked so hard for the past 5 years, am I throwing it all away to live out my coastal town dreams?’.

Pushing these thoughts to the side, I put in my resignation as I felt there was no other choice – the thought of doing my Event Manager job remotely, even temporarily, wasn’t something I thought was possible. So, my manager sent the team an email letting everyone know of my departure and I began saying my goodbyes and preparing handover notes. Fortunately for me, this was not the end of my time at StudyPerth.

Most managers might have accepted my resignation and started looking for the next Event Manager to fill my shoes as soon as possible. But not Tara, my manager. In true Tara style, ready to push the boundaries and think outside of the box.

'COVID-19 has forced us to all work remotely and showed us how important it is to retain good people and look at the options on the table before letting them go. This shouldn't be an exception. So let's take up the challenge!' she said.

Now, Esperance is not just a couple of hours away. Esperance is 700km away – a 7 ½ hour drive from Perth! So, I would only be coming back to Perth once every so often and would not be able to run events on the ground. But as it was agreed on, the incredible StudyPerth team, as well as our Events Committee (made up of 4 amazing international students), would run the events and I would organise them from afar whilst embarking on this new adventure.

I was fortunate to work under this arrangement for the past 8 months. If it wasn’t for the homesickness I felt during meetings when everyone was together at the new office, or the serious FOMO on team building and lunch days, I would continue in my role with StudyPerth in a heartbeat. But as I close my StudyPerth chapter, I'd like to reflect on the skills and lessons learned as I worked from afar as an Event Manager.

  • Briefing and clear communication are essential!

Admittedly, I’ve always been a little light on the information I provide to staff working at events because I have always been there to answer any queries or help where required. In working remotely, this luxury was not afforded, and my briefing documents turned into essays – sorry Events Committee for the extra, slightly unnecessary information! However, for the first time in my career, I was able to ‘switch off’ while events were on, as I was confident that I provided more than enough information for the team to run the event with no questions asked.

  • Trust your team.

I have always had confidence that the highly skilled StudyPerth team carries out their role to a high standard. However, to trust that events will be run exactly the way I visualised them was a challenge – and I’m sure I’m not the only Event Manager that likes a bit of control. However, events are a culmination of the entire team carrying out their role. The art of delegating and trusting that each team member will play their role to ensure a successful event was enhanced by working remotely.

  • Technology is amazing!

We all harp on about 'how great technology is', but have you really put it to the test? I certainly was putting it to the test down here in Esperance. Occasionally, I would turn my camera off on Teams due to the connection (with the team jokingly saying my camera off means I’m sunbaking at the beach) – but apart from this, it has been smooth sailing. I feel incredibly lucky and fortunate that I was able to utilise technology to do my job and complete my studies.

The transition to working remotely was seamless, and the challenges were few and far between. However, a part of what makes StudyPerth so special is the work they do on the ground – greeting international students through the Airport Welcome Service, sending G’Day from WA boxes overseas and welcoming students as they roll into the new StudyPerth Student Hub. Admittedly, I have really missed this aspect of the role, particularly since our borders are open and so a tough decision was made to move on.

As Esperance becomes our semi-permanent home, rather than a temporary destination, it felt right at this time to search for employment locally, which I am very fortunate to have found. Whilst chatting to the lovely ladies at the local coffee shop makes for a satisfying morning chat, the extroversion in me misses regular chats over coffee, lunch and drinks in the afternoon!

I am so grateful to the StudyPerth team for supporting me throughout this time, and I look forward to following the incredible work they do over the coming year.

An honourable mention goes to my university supervisors too for supporting my move. I have just submitted my thesis for completion of the Accelerated Masters in Research with Training and they were all too happy to continue our meetings via Teams; we agreed my writing would benefit from a break from the big smoke!

By Eliza Vlasich