Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Alice Turnbull, Event Manager at La Trobe University

October 9, 2019

Alice Turnbull is the Event Manager at La Trobe University, a role where she oversees and coordinates events for the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Alumni and Student Recruitment services.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

After a failed attempt at a career in architecture, events kind of found me. While studying a Bachelor of Public Relations I fell into some casual event work and caught the bug then and there.

I’ve now been steadily working in the events industry for the past 10 years at some of Australia’s leading agencies and brands, managing everything from sporting activations, major televised awards ceremonies, corporate galas and everything in between.

I am currently working as a Senior Event Coordinator at La Trobe University, overseeing events for the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Alumni and Student Recruitment services.

2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

As the event experts for the broader University, we’re lucky enough to get to work with a broad range of stakeholders, which is probably what I love most about my job. No two day are the same, which allows us to be creative in our approach to achieving our marketing objectives.

I can go from coordinating a panel discussion with a refugee based on Manus Island to planning a corporate gala dinner to hosting Bollywood stars and managing screaming fans on campus.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

I am extremely lucky to work with a wonderful team, who are very supportive and flexible in their approach to work. With hard work, comes respect, which in turn ensures confidence that a high standard of work can be delivered from any environment be it work or home.

Whilst pregnant, I was provided with the opportunity to work from appointments and/or home, which provided me with the flexibility to work around my commitments and still hit crucial deadlines.

I think that this level of flexibility actually made me work harder and appreciate my team and workplace more, with such a supportive work environment in place.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

I love a good list! I start every day by writing a list of key deliverables, which help me to keep on track throughout a project. I’m also a big fan of face to face meetings with clients on a regular basis to ensure communication channels remain open and clear to ensure that deadlines are met.

For those that are unfamiliar with end to end event delivery processes, I like to produce project plans so that everything is transparent for all stakeholders.

I also can’t stress enough the importance of developing strong interpersonal relationships. Working within such a big organisation, it has been crucial for me to develop positive relationships with my colleagues to ensure that concerns are heard and managed without the need for confrontation that can often cause unnecessary delays.

5) What does work life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work life balance is so important. For the greater part of my career, I worked at agencies that saw me work crazy hours both during the week and on weekends, which didn’t allow for much else other than work.

Although I don’t begrudge this period of time (I learnt so much and many of the time management skills I still use today), La Trobe has been fantastic at accommodating a healthy work-life balance.

While there are still periods where we work crazy hours, this is subsidised with time off in quieter periods where we are encouraged to take time to reset and get back on track. Where possible, I try and make time to do things for myself.

In the simplest form that’s starting work a little later and going for a walk with the dog and grabbing a coffee in the morning to planning a little getaway away from the hustle and bustle of the city for some quality rest and relaxation.

Taking this time makes me a better worker as it allows for an uncluttered mind, where creativity can flourish.

6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

Although I usually tend to stray towards fiction, I was surprisingly empowered by Sheryl Sandberg’s novel Lean In, which definitely made me think differently about my future in the workplace.

Sanberg highlights the importance of women taking the reigns and making the most of their career including unexpected opportunities and highlights that you can have it all (a high profile job, marriage and kids) if you’re willing to work hard for it.

A really insightful read not just for women but also men as it illustrates so clearly how we should be working together to get the most out of each other.

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Aside from getting a good night’s sleep, organisation is key. I plan my day every morning and although I know that there will likely be curveballs, having key goals to achieve daily definitely help me to stay on track and keep my sanity.

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