Since starting in events four years ago, Mikaila Sparkes has worked on a variety of high-profile events, including Tabcorp Birdcage Marquee at the Melbourne Cup and the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards.
Here she shares some of her career highlights thus far and the lessons learnt along the way…
Where did you start your career?
I started my career as an intern at Event Planet while I was undertaking studies for a Bachelor of Management at the University of Technology, Sydney. It was while I was completing my internship that my passion for the industry really developed as I was able to see firsthand how event concepts were created and then brought to life. It’s pretty amazing to see an idea form into reality.
At the conclusion of my internship, I was fortunate enough to be offered a permanent role with the incredible team at Event Planet and I have been building on my skills every day since.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on some really exciting projects, specifically brand activations and corporate hospitality experiences for this year’s Spring Racing Carnival across Sydney and Melbourne. Spring Carnival is one of my favourite times of the year. It provides the industry with a real opportunity to showcase new design trends through stunning marquees and engaging experiential marketing campaigns.
I am also working on a great consumer sponsorship activation for the Real Insurance Sydney Harbour 10km and 5km Run in July which is already proving to be a lot of fun!
What’s the best thing about your job?
I love meeting and working with a variety of people – it is actually one of the reasons I entered the industry in the first place. On a daily basis, I have the opportunity to collaborate with my amazing colleagues, a number of clients from varying industries, venues and suppliers across Australia who have all taught me a great deal and helped me get to where I am today.
I thrive on the variety of tasks the day can bring from client meetings and site visits to early bump ins, late bump outs and unforgettable events. In my job, no two days are ever the same and this challenge inspires me to continue delivering success for our clients.
What advice would you give to someone entering the field?
My advice would be to get involved in as many ways as possible, whether it be through an internship or simply volunteering at local events. Set yourself goals and write a list of things you hope to understand and learn and take advantage of the industry knowledge from those you work with. The more experience you have, the more you will learn about how the industry operates and what areas you are drawn to. It will also help you to build up a network of contacts for future opportunities.
What would your dream event look like?
My dream event would be a combination of the most memorable aspects of the events I have worked on in the past – striking design, exceptional catering and mind-blowing entertainment! I get the most fulfillment from seeing guests enjoying themselves, so creating an event that they will never forget is always top of mind for me.
Have you had any major event disasters?
I haven’t had any major disasters thus far – touch wood! There are always small things that pop up during the course of events that can’t be controlled such as the weather, a supplier running late and an incorrect delivery, but that is the nature of events – it always keeps you on your toes. How you are able to manage and troubleshoot these hiccups speaks volumes to the strength of character of your team and how everyone bands together to solve the problems!
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt during your career?
Adaptability is key!
Sometimes in events things don’t go to plan, no matter how much time is spent meticulously preparing for every possible scenario. It is important to be able to work with your team to find an effective solution to rectify any issues that may arise to reduce the disruption or impact on clients and guests.
I also see adaptability being crucial in event design. The industry is constantly changing and evolving. With new technology being developed almost daily, it is extremely important to explore how this can be incorporated into a client’s event to enhance the experience for guests.
What is the best event you have worked on and why?
I couldn’t possibly choose just one – they have all been the best event for a number of reasons. At the core of my favourite events is celebration and bringing people together. The best events I have worked on are those that push me to develop my skills, collaborate with multiple stakeholders and really give me the chance to flex my event muscles!
One is certainly the Tabcorp Birdcage Marquee at Flemington that I have had the pleasure of working at for the last three Melbourne Cup Carnivals. Others to note include the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards which consisted of nine nationwide events over five weeks and the Moët & Chandon Lawn at the Melbourne Racing Club for Caulfield Cup Carnival last year.