From Manchester to Melbourne: Jamie’s Journey in Event Excellence

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Meet Jamie, a seasoned event professional with a dynamic career spanning high-profile sporting events and brand activations across Australia and beyond. Currently serving as a Project Manager at ACTIV Brand Management, Jamie brings a wealth of experience right from Manchester City Football Club to the Australian Open and Grand Prix.

His journey from the UK to Melbourne has been marked by resilience and adventure from being adopted by an Australian family during COVID to diving headfirst into life on a remote cattle station in Burketown.

Passionate about football, Jamie balances his professional life with personal interests, finding inspiration in challenges and new horizons!

 Tell us more about ACTIV Brand Management and your role at the company?

I joined ACTIV in April as a Project Manager after finishing contracts at the likes of Aus GP, the Australian Open, and FIFA.

ACTIV has tripled in size in the past 2 years with myself as the most recent addition. We work with brands, small and large, to form an extension of their teams. Whether it’s creating experiential marketing campaigns, roadshows, activating our custom shipping container with Indomie at the Australian Grand Prix, Adidas at the PGA Championships, DeWalt at the Supercars etc., through to end to end management of the Sustainable Future Festival in the Central Coast on behalf of the Central Coast Council, or supporting a startup business at their first expo, we offer support to get your brand in front of people and into consumers’ hands.

Additionally we offer staffing solutions – last year we provided 50 staff for the Wyndham Carols by Candlelight event, or brand ambassadors/site managers at any event our clients wish to attend.

It’s hard to nail exactly what we offer in just a short answer – we are a nimble team that covers so many bases.

Virtual/augmented reality creation, digital asset creation, social media campaigns, end to end project management, all gearing towards having a physical presence at either an event or a pop-up activation. I’m happy to have a chat with anyone about how we may be able to support you, the chances are we have done something similar previously!

You have worked with some really cool brands! Can you share an event that you have worked on, that you are particularly proud of? And why?

My whole time at Manchester City Football Club was surreal.

I ran match day activations, fan zones, player appearances, half time games, trophy lifts – the lot. It’s impossible to pick one but organizing the open top bus parade after winning the Premier League and League Cup, then actually being on the bus as it drove through Manchester City centre in front of 150,000 people was incredible.

How would you describe the events industry? 

Organised chaos!

There are so many branches to the events industry, all with their own niches and personnel that work on them. There are community events, club nights out, parties, conferences, expos, major events, festivals, roadshows and more. Even within major events, an AFL match at the MCG requires a whole different type of organizing to, say, Bass in the Grass music festival in Darwin, which is vastly different again to the Australian Open. The same person who excels in orgainsing a 90,000 person crowd display at a cup final at Wembley Stadium could be well out of their depth trying to run a wedding for 100 guests, and vice versa. The people who do work in events though are without fail full of energy, passion and ideas, you couldn’t work in the industry for just a paycheck!

What is the most crucial element when planning events?

Stress management and adaptability. Everyone can plan things on paper but until a wind gust blows over the crowd barriers at the World Cycling Championships and wipes out half the peloton mid-race and it needs a solution, you don’t know who’s actually good at their job. Expect everything to go wrong, even the thing you don’t think can possibly go wrong will go wrong at some point. People will remember the experience they had rather than how nice something looks (to a degree), and who can’t take a step back, look at the bigger picture and prioritize whilst under pressure fall off the circuit very quickly.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your role at ACTIV?

This is the first time in 5 years that I’ve been agency side rather than client side, so it’s been a big adjustment working on proposals, ideation and engaging new clients. Having freedom and responsibility to make key decisions for the business, and our management team listening to everything the team says is huge – I’m used to being a small cog in a big machine.

Who inspires you?

There are a few people I’ve worked with who have followed similar career paths and are now General Managers or Head of Departments in some of the top sporting organisations in the world. I’m proud to have worked alongside these people and I get inspired by seeing the work they do and positions they now hold. The possibility of following in their footsteps one day is very exciting.

How do you maintain a work-life balance, especially during busy periods leading up to events?

It can be incredibly difficult if you don’t have an appropriately resourced team, or have planned poorly. I’ve worked plenty of adrenaline fueled 100+ hour weeks around events and it’s just not sustainable. With experience I now set strict boundaries on when I’m clocking out, always maintain my sport commitments, and am confident enough to push back and explain when something is unachievable in the timeframe. Not allowing other people’s stress to influence my stress levels has been crucial for me.

What motivated your decision to move from the UK to Melbourne? How has the transition been for you, both personally and professionally?

I have an unusual answer to this!

I moved over in October 2019 just to play a season of cricket in Bonbeach for 6 months. Covid hit, and my flight home in May 2020 was canceled. Both the UK and Aus governments told visa holders to return home, but given I had $1000 to my name and seeing it was $15-20k for a flight home, I had no option but to stay in Aus. Like every visa holder I was ineligible for Jobkeeper or Jobseeker and facing homelessness. I somehow got adopted by an Australian family for a few weeks which got me through phase 1, then moved 3000km to Burketown, Queensland’s Gulf Country with just my backpack on to work on a cattle station for a few months. Having previously never stepped foot on a farm, I suddenly found myself in total isolation on the wrong side of the world, mustering cattle on horseback and dirt bikes in the outback. I had a couple of near death experiences and I aged about 10 years in a few months and it was the toughest time of my life. Since then, I’ve traveled nearly all of Australia with just a backpack, dodged lockdowns throughout Covid, and worked Major Events contracts for some of the biggest organisations across the country. It’s been extremely tough to get to where I am now, but I have memories that will last a lifetime!

Have you discovered any favourite spots or hidden gems in Melbourne since moving here? 

I love playing snooker and pool – Masters on Barkly Street in St Kilda is my favourite spot to disappear for a few hours. 

You’ve worked with a few football teams and events in the past, are you a football fan?

I’m a huge football fan, and I can confirm it’s football, not soccer! I’ve been a Manchester City fan since 2002, before the money, and still get up for all the games. I’ve played semi-professionally myself in the Gold Coast and Northern Territory, currently enjoying this season playing down at Elwood.

What is your favourite thing about CoWork Me

Our team is small and spread across the Eastern seaboard so I’ve found myself working from home for the first time, which has been a huge adjustment for me. CoWork Me allows me to leave the house, make human connections and meet people. 

How would you describe the work environment?

Friendly, casual, the people here are all in a similar position and are very open and welcoming. I like the openness and flexibility to move seats and freshen up the work location each day.