Ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March, Spice News will be running a series of Q+As with inspiring female figureheads from the Australian events industry, learning about the role models who helped them to get to where they are today and discussing what businesses can do to inspire future female leaders in 2018.
First up is Lena Malouf (AIFD. CSCP). Boasting a career in the events industry that has lasted more than half a century, Malouf is known for being the author of Events Exposed, a textbook which is taught in universities both in Australia and around the world, as well as being the founding member of the International Live Events Association’s (then known as International Special Events Society) Australia chapter, more than 25 years ago.
Can you share some examples of the females role models you have encountered in the events industry.
As any career develops and reputation becomes established, all aspiring event professionals need someone to lean on.
I reflect on the early 90s when I received an invitation to open The Australian Chapter of the International Live Events Association (ILEA). As Founding President, a position which incidentally came without a ‘How To Manual’, I did make a wise move. I contacted Elizabeth Rich of Agenda P/L .This professional woman remains a role model to many. Her knowledge of meetings, procedure and administration is outstanding and the private consultancies Elizabeth gave me were invaluable.
Over the next few years, I worked with women that are still active in the industry today: Vivien Reed; Pamela Wheat; Valerie Percival; Sharon Williams; Romaine Pereira to name a few. In the States, Andrea Michaels; Janet Elkins; and Sally Webb are all to be admired for their leadership contributions.
What have been some of your career highlights ?
Memorable highlights take me back to the 80s, with winning the contract for the new Regent of Sydney Hotel. This was a buzz decided to change the direction of the business to specialize in corporate and party work due to the influence of my American peers.
This decade also offered invitations from The American Institute Of Floral Designers (AIFD) to present at many of their International Symposiums in various cities throughout the States. It was certainly a highlight and creatively educational. Receiving life membership from AIFD came much later, but was indeed an honour.
I felt a real spark when my latest book “ Events Exposed “ was released by Wiley & Sons New York as it was intended to be a culmination of what I had learned about event management and event design and décor.
Lastly, receiving the Life Achievement Award from The Special Event Penton Organisation in the States in 2010, and the Life Achievement Award from the Australian Events Symposium AES in 2012.
In your opinion, what can businesses do to champion future female leaders?
The best way to attract the best female talent is to offer competitive wages and excellent benefits that will support them in their life choices. This includes flexible working hours without penalties, allowing women to adjust their schedules, and providing women with the tools, resources and pathways to grow their careers and reach their potential.
If you could go back in time to the beginning of your career, what advice would you give yourself?
My advice today to young graduates in this industry is to go beyond the college diploma. Each year, do another related course to expand your knowledge and level of competence.