Jade McKenzie, 34, had absolutely no idea what she wanted to do in high school. She spent six months studying a psychology course because she felt the pressure to attend university. After trying her hand at a few jobs – from aged care to financial services – she found her calling for event planning. Jade now runs her own event management company, Event Head, where she not only plans parties, but writes about them too! Here is her career journey.
My whole life is centred around meaningful connection. Without it, I have no drive, no purpose and no passion. And I know that for many others, they feel the same. And what better conduit for connecting people is there than events? In every single role I had as an employee, I loved working on the events. They gave me such joy that I looked for any excuse to plan. You can imagine how stoked I was when it came to planning my wedding – ha! And going into a not for profit and running all the fundraising events was a dream come true!
I wasn’t crazy about the idea of study – any study makes me go cross eyed! I have got certifications in Business Administration, Financial Planning and Event Management, mostly through a mix of study and recognition of prior learning. I received my diploma of Event Management via RPL which was the best way for me to get it as I had so much experience in the field.
Event Head came to life in 2013, about 3 or 4 months after I had given birth to my first child. I knew that it was the right time to go out on my own and start my own business and from there it evolved into what it is today. It was a natural thread that had followed me my whole life and so it was a natural progression that I would eventually start a business in it and go from there. It certainly wasn’t easy but it was definitely one of the best decisions I ever made!
Every day is so different but mainly my days consist of forgetting to eat breakfast, touching base with my team, figuring out the priorities for the day or week, attending to client queries and emails, working on event strategy, doing administrative work such as newsletter copy or finances, skyping with clients, doing interviews like this one, getting ready for launches (I feel like I am always working on a sales page!), coaching my mastermind girls, ordering gifts, doing my social media posts, working with suppliers and venues, going to meetings, trying to get to the gym and randomly, a lot of singing to the radio or my iTunes.
I launched EH Magazine because I absolutely love what I do but I am not the only one who has wonderful experiences to share about events. I wanted to give a voice to people who love events as much as I do and have wisdom and knowledge that they can share with others. The digital magazine is a way to share our experience as a collective and help inspire other entrepreneurs and business owners create amazing events. It is a beautiful way to showcase the incredible work that people do putting together their own amazing experiences.
I made plenty of sacrifices. They have been financial, such as going for experience over dollars. They have been around relationships, such as not be able to attend certain things or hang out with friends as often. They have been physical, such as not taking care of my health and doing long hours. And they’ve been emotional by putting other people’s needs in front of my own. Constantly! But it’s all been worth it for the lessons I’ve learnt, the experience I’ve had, the people I’ve got in my life and the stories I can tell over a wine!
The most memorable and the hardest events I’ve ever worked on are the ones I did during my time as GM and BDM for a national cancer charity. They were memorable because they were for such an incredible cause as well as being personally fulfilling – not to super fun to plan! And they were the hardest because I planned them all with skeleton resources, volunteer teams and no budget! It was a lot of long hours and a lot of hard work but they were always amazing in the end.
When I’m hiring I look for motivation, drive, past achievements, career progression, how they interact with others, their current situation and how they would like to evolve. A qualification does not dictate whether someone is good at their job or not, their personality does. So if someone fits in well with our culture, can work with my crazy brain, is self-motivated and can take the ball and run with it, then they are the one for me!
Students who are trying to get into the industry should get hands on experience. Volunteer at local festivals, send your resume out to event management companies that may appreciate an intern, assist charities at their events and most importantly – be proactive! Take all that learning you’ve had in the classroom and apply it to a real-life situation. And the more open you are to working your way from the bottom up, the more opportunities will naturally come your way.
I’m in my dream job. I love that I’ve found my own little pocket in the world where I can create what I want to create, give value to my clients based on real experience, surround myself with the most amazing people EVER and that I have so much room to grow and evolve. Every project gives me a sense of achievement, every client helps me grow and get better and better at my craft and every hug, smile and kind word makes my heart burst with happiness!