Every great journey starts with a single step, and for Marianne Edmonds that step was taking what she calls a ‘lowly admin job’ at an events agency for her to uncover her life’s calling – throwing amazing events. She was quickly promoted and thus her illustrious career was launched.
But for Marianne, her life-altering journey began while trying to “rediscover herself” after a nasty divorce when she escaped to Nicaragua to carry out a little charity work — as you do– in 2004.
She realised: “The insides of dirty airports, long-haul cattle class flights and the four walls of glitzy hotel rooms had lost their sex appeal”.
“So I decided to start my own freelancing event business in Brisbane, servicing corporates from around the nation.”
What began in the back of a garage in a quiet Brisbane suburb is now known as Loud Events, a full-service event and conference management agency, who today, looks after the likes of: Lexus, Michael Hill Jeweller, Drake Supermarkets, ANZ, ICBC, Nutrimetics, Toyota, Samsung, Mirvac, Global Café to name but a few.
Here, Marianne shares with Spice News her career journey and imparts a little advice to those wishing to follow in her footsteps.
How long have you been in the events industry?
Way too long. I started out fresh out of university with a local event company in Brisbane in 1997
Where did you start your career?
Brisbane for an event company called Showstopper Events that serviced South East Asia – primarily delivering ex pat events in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Hawaii, New Zealand, Bali and the Philippines.
What are you working on now?
Breathing a little. We just came off the Commonwealth Games and delivering some of the outdoor sports including the road cycling, race walk and mountain biking.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Our family at LOUD. The team we work with are beyond awesome – energetic, creative and cool cats. I also love the diversity of work and listening to conference material – last week at a medical conference I watched the first 3D printed shin bone implanted in Australia. How bloody cool is that.
What advice would you give to someone entering the field?
Nearly every staff member we have employed over the years came from volunteering with us firstly or doing an intern with us. The more experience you can get the better. We don’t really look at degrees. It’s all about hands on experience.
And what advice would you give to agencies looking to attract and retain young talent?
Build a compelling culture. Sometimes event and conference work can be arduous and stressful. Make going to work fun, reward them and appreciate them. Each year we take our team away for an incredible trip to say thankyou. We have spent an incredible time developing a pretty tight culture.
What would your dream event look like?
I would like to work on Coachella. But my dream event would be an incentive that I am attending – not delivering – with a number of money-can’t-buy experiences. That’s what we do for others it would be awesome to sit on the other side.
Have you had any major event disasters? What happened?
Of course, how else do you learn? Like forgetting to turn off the sprinklers at a Christmas Carols in the park night…lucky it was Christmas and hot weather. There was also the possums that ate the centerpieces in the water resourvious black tie dinner and a typhoon that hit our conference in Macau on the first day meaning that half the delegation were trapped in Hong Kong when ferries were cancelled….oh I could go on.
And the best event you have ever worked on and why?
I have so many that I have loved for different reasons. There was the Prince William tour post the floods – that was really fascintating working through the protocol procedures. I really love working with Zambreros Plate 4 Plate where we package 500,000 meals for the starving each year because of how it makes me feel. However, the dinner for 1,000 in the tunnel was pretty fabulous and working on incentives and feeling the excitement of the delegates gives me a rush. However working on the Tennis Australia dinner each year and hanging with Roger Federer and his hot Swiss entourage – that maybe takes the cake.