EMG Events is thrilled to round off another awesome year by introducing the newest member of the team!
Rachael Briese is not only what we would deem an events guru, her successful career has spanned over two decades. Starting out at McDonalds as a teenager and progressing to a traineeship at The Grand Hyatt Melbourne, Rachael has worked her way up within the events industry, her reputation proceeding her as not only an expert in all things events, food and business development, but also as a lovely and warm spirited thinker and leader.
Previously the Executive General Manager – Major Events and Catering at Atlantic Group, Rachael joins EMG Events to mentor our project management team and guide the company in a new direction.
A few things you need to know about Rach:
So many things depending on how old I was at the time – I’m pretty sure I always wanted to be on stage – singing, acting, dancing, until I thought I hit my next stage and being a tennis player was on the cards until of course I realised my potential was never going to be on a national or international status! A marine biologist crossed my mind because I loved dolphins, but the strongest direction was a sports psychologist (to use all of my tennis prowess behind the scenes).
What led you to the events industry?
You could argue McDonalds – which was my first official job – but I was a little lost in my first year of Uni in an Arts degree, so I applied for a Food & Beverage Traineeship at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne and was accepted as one of three trainees to be part of the first intake in Melbourne and have been in hospitality ever since. My true love of events though started when I literally landed a job at Richard Branson’s “The Roof Gardens” in London where I lived for 9 months. I assisted with some of the most amazing events with celebrity statuses and budgets to match – put it this way the Spice Girls were one of my first introductions!
I have always had a serious passion for food and beverage both personally and professionally – it’s a great excuse to need to wine and dine regularly – I love trying new things!
What has been your greatest achievement?
Wow – this is definitely my non-work related – I had an operation when I was 19 which took me almost 18 months to fully recover from – day to day things like cleaning my teeth, drinking out of a cup and walking were suddenly very difficult and I think this set me on my path to sort out what was really important in life. As much as I wouldn’t wish this experience on my worst enemy, it certainly changed my view on just getting on with things and that obstacles are there just to figure out how you get over, around, through or between them.
Mind you having 3 children would take this to another level because to me nothing is really greater than having these small humans in my life!!
On a work note….I feel like each milestone of my career has been there for the growth of me personally, but if I needed to choose one achievement it’s not the largest event, but moreso the management of a situation that no one could have foreseen or planned for and it has been one of the most valuable lessons for me in terms of how quickly events can change at a moments notice.
I was looking after an International Corporate Conference for 1000 people in 2001 and after 18 months of planning on a very demanding weekly basis, I moved into the Hotel where I lived in-house for 3 weeks as there were so many customised requirements in the 2 weeks program leading up to the main four day conference. Other than all of the day to day requests, the most exciting part of the event for all involved was The Gala Dinner finale. The intention was to deliver four concurrent events in the one space with guests to be taken through a progression via projection and entertainment using sheer walls as the ‘dividing point’ between the quadrants. The concept was to experience the four seasons in one Melbourne day with roving entertainment rigged from the ceiling that would rotate through the room as each progression was made. The menu was designed so that depending on the quadrant you were in you experience a 8 course menu that reflected the season you were in. Every facet of this event had been considered for guests to be immersed in this extraordinary experience.
Unfortunately the night prior to the Gala Dinner was September 11 and this client had offices in the Twin Towers. So when I woke the next morning, guests were unable to check out as flights has been cancelled back to the US amongst other destinations, essentially the final day turned into Day 1 of 5 days of Crisis Mode. Understandably the dinner was cancelled, but it was by far the hardest 5 days of the 18 months managing the emotions of guests way outside the realm of my normal Event Management duties. An experience I have never forgotten and friendships forged that have not been lost.
What are the qualities that you believe make a good leader?
Leadership to me is so important to be as it keeps me driven and inspired to always be a better person across all facets of my life. I believe it is important to be yourself and to learn from everyone around you – experience is great, but a leader doesn’t necessarily have all the answers!!! For me leadership is also about building trust, empowering people and teams, having authentic relationships, communication, sharing knowledge, not taking yourself too seriously and making sure you have a bloody good time doing what you do!!
Having positive outlook and a positive attitude are integral – after all it is this impression you make on your team and how they perceive you. When things aren’t going as planned or it seems like things are falling by the whey side, a leader needs to rise to the occasion, think on their feet, take things head on and be able to draw out solutions. What you hope is that what you instil and influence impacts how your team approach and influence others.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
It’s inevitable I’ll be in events or food in some form – it’s in my blood!!
“Make it happen – it always seems impossible until it is done” – Nelson Mandela
You can get in contact with Rachael here: Rachael@emgevents.com.au