The VMA Professional Development Workshops are designed for operational/ frontline staff and aspiring managers. These face-to-face half-day workshops will enhance their skill set and allow them to take the next step in their career.

Now more than ever, is the time to invest in your team. Keep your young professionals engaged and eager to progress within the venue management industry.




2024 Speakers



Kate Alexander, Head of Major Events, Melbourne & Olympic Parks

Speaker: Professional Development Workshop – Melbourne, Abbotsford Convent, 10 April, 2024

Kate is an accomplished professional in the venue and event management industry, with over 12 years of experience across both stadium and arena environments within the sport and entertainment sector. Currently serving as the Head of Major Events at Melbourne & Olympic Parks, Kate is responsible for overseeing the planning and execution of large-scale events within the precinct, including the upcoming 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Kate is a dedicated advocate for enhancing operational efficiencies, maintaining safe and secure environments, elevating customer experiences, promoting sustainability, and fostering the growth and development of team members.

James Avery, CEO, Stadiums Tasmania

Speaker: Professional Development Workshop – Glenorchy, MyState Bank Area, 16 July, 2024

After being appointed inaugural CEO of Stadiums Tasmania in 2023, James Avery has led the organisation’s strategic priorities of taking ownership of key Tasmanian stadiums and venues, leading major capital upgrade projects and the transformational Macquarie Point Stadium project.

Before joining Stadiums Tasmania, James held senior executive roles with the likes of the GWS GIANTS, the Australian Football League (AFL), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Melbourne Storm, where he worked across numerous national and international sporting and infrastructure industries and a range of successful high-performance programs.

Malu Barrios, Director of Event Services – International Convention Centre, Sydney

Speaker: Professional Development Workshop – Sydney, Sydney Masonic Centre, 3 April, 2024

Malu Barrios has spent over 20 years at Director level in the events industry; developing and implementing venue management strategies across a variety of major convention centres and event venues throughout Australia.

She is a seasoned ASM Global executive, having successfully launched three of the global venue management group’s facilities prior to undertaking her current role of Director of Event Services at ICC Sydney.

Malu previously held the position of Events Director of the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, General Manager of the Darwin Convention Centre, and General Manager of Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island, where she ensured the seamless transition of events from the interim facility to ICC Sydney. Malu was also associated with the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW as General Manager of the Sydney Showground where she contributed to great cultural and corporate change within the organisation.

Malu was an instrumental member of the ICC Sydney opening team and has since overseen the delivery thousands of world class events since it’s opening in December 2016.

In her role as Director of Event Service, Malu oversees the teams involved in ICC Sydney’s event planning, event operations, customer service and live events. Her team is often considered to be the engine room of ICC Sydney, working hand in hand with clients to bring their extraordinary event visions to life.

Under her guidance, ICC Sydney’s operations have gone from strength to strength and have been recognised with numerous industry accolades. This includes the Exhibitions and Events Association of Australasia (EEAA) Best Venue Team in 2018 and 2019 and being awarded the Best Event Venue – Capacity over 1500 from the prestigious Meetings and Events Australia (MEA) 2019 National Awards, amongst others.

She has a global reputation for being a first-class leader and is well recognised for her expertise and advocacy of business events and venue management. Malu was recognised as the inaugural Unsung Hero of the event and exhibition industry by the EEAA in 2017 for her significant contribution over many years.

Renee Brown AVM, General Manager, LK Stadiums Managment

Speaker: Professional Development Workshop – Glenorchy, MyState Bank Area, 16 July, 2024

Renee Brown AVM, is currently the General Manager of the newly redeveloped MyState Bank Arena which is the first venue under the LK Stadiums Management banner.

As a Professional Conference and Event Manager for over 15 years, Renee moved to “the other side” to become the Venue MaManagert the (then) Derwent Entertainment Centre in 2017 which was run by local government. In late 2019 with the sale of the venue, Renee became part of the redevelopment team and subsequent General Manager, transforming the venue into MyState Bank Arena in 9 months with an $85million budget. Renee graduated the Venue Management School in 2018 and is a Leadership Institute Graduate class of 2022 and was awarded her AVM in 2022.

Michael Roberts, Associate Security Consultant at Arup

Speaker: Professional Development Workshop – Melbourne, Abbotsford Convent, 10 April, 2024


Michael is a safety, security and risk management professional with over 20 years’ experience in major event safety and security and critical infrastructure resilience.

He leads Arup’s major events and venues and critical infrastructure offering for the Resilience, Security and Risk team for Australasia and provides clients with support in the areas of safety and security design, strategy development and implementation, operations, resilience planning and delivery and security capability development and training.

Olivia Birkett AVM, Chief Executive Officer, Tennis West

Speaker: Professional Development Workshop – Perth, HBF Park, 6 March, 2024

Olivia commenced her current role as CEO at Tennis West in February 2024. Having previously been the Head of Operations at Tennis West, starting in early 2020, just as COVID hit the industry and forced lockdowns. During this time, Olivia engaged heavily with the IAVM and VMA webinars and had calls with people in the USA and Australia, to support each other.

Olivia comes from a small venue environment, where she has had to ‘wear a lot of hats’ and manage a range of issues. Olivia is now well versed in biosecurity and COVID Safety Plans, as much as emergency response plans, bookings systems, asset registers and staff management.

Oliva brought this diverse range of skills and knowledge together as she completed her Accredited Venue Manager accreditation in 2020. Olivia joined the Venue Management Association Board in 2021 and she looks forward to seeing the industry grow and embrace a diverse range of venues and members.

Jim Cunningham, Facilities Operations Manager, QPAC

Speaker: Professional Development Workshop – Brisbane, Brisbane City Hall, 20 March, 2024

Jim is currently the Facilities Operations Manager for the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC). Located within the heart of Brisbane, QPAC welcomes over 1.5 million ticketed patrons annually and over 1,200 performances within the Lyric Theatre, Concert Hall, Playhouse and Cremorne theatre. With a fifth 1,500 seat theatre currently under construction, 4 studio spaces, 5 F&B outlets and multiple function spaces, QPAC is one of the largest performing arts centres worldwide. Jim is responsible for client-side facilities management, operations and project management of QPAC capital works, including being a key member of Project Working Group for QPAC’s new $175 million New Performing Arts Venue.  

As a professional in the venue industry for over 16 years, Jim has held various positions across a wide range of the theatre, sports and entertainment venues, hirers and contractor partners, both within private and public organisations. Jim has had the unique perspective to work within venue management as well as for venue partners such as Ticketmaster and Oztix, responsible for ticketing event services for high profile clients and events such as Marvel Stadium, the AFL, Presidents cup, Victorian Racing Carnival, Riverstage, Metricon Stadium and the Gabba. Working for multi-national company NEC, Jim was responsible for the IT services for the Transport for NSW cluster and is ITIL accredited. Jim has also worked as an inaugural staff member for the GWS Giants AFL club, integral for growing the game of AFL and the newly formed club within NRL heartland. Jim’s venue management roles include QPAC, as well as the Sydney Showground where he was the Stadium & Ticketing manager responsible for event planning and operational management for AFL matches, A-League matches, Big Bash cricket and the largest annual ticketed event in the southern hemisphere, the Sydney Royal Easter Show that welcomes close to 1 million patrons annually across the 12 days of the show.   

Jim has a passion for delivering successful events and projects and is an active venue professional and a recent graduated of the VMA Venue Management School.

Kate Gould, CEO/ Artistic Director - Brisbane Power House

Speaker: Professional Development Workshop – Brisbane, Brisbane City Hall, 20 March, 2024

Kate Gould is a leading figure in Australia’s arts and culture scene, known for founding new festivals and revitalising existing events and infrastructure.

Kate is CEO/Artistic Director of Brisbane Powerhouse, co-founder of Mona’s annual winter arts festival Dark Mofo (Tas), and former CEO and Associate Artistic Director of the renowned Adelaide Festival. Early in her career, she worked as a theatre producer at Brisbane Festival and QPAC (Queensland Performing Arts Centre).

As a strategic consultant, Kate Gould has guided diverse clients through the development of business cases and operating plans. Her efforts have led to the successful acquisition of over $200 million in funding for cultural infrastructure and arts festivals. Her clients have included Monash University, Flinders University, and the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre (SA).

Kate has actively contributed to various boards, including as Chair of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Co-Chair of the SA Premier’s Council for Women, Director at the Tarra Warra Museum of Art (Vic), and Director at the Adelaide Football Club. Notably, her advocacy played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Crows AFL Women’s team.

Erica Kennedy, Venue Coordinator Logan Entertainment Centre, Logan City Council

Facilitator: Professional Development Workshop – Brisbane, Brisbane City Hall, 20 March, 2024

Erica is an experienced and dedicated events professional currently serving as the Venue Coordinator at Logan Entertainment Centre. With her career spanning a decade, Erica has spent the last six years in various venues, contributing significantly to the events and operations landscape. It is in the heart of live event delivery that Erica finds her true passion.

Stuart Lyon AVM, Director Strategy and Partnership at VenuesWest

Speaker: Professional Development Workshop – Perth, HBF Park, 6 March, 2024

Stuart is the Director STrategy and Partnership at VenuesWest, who operate sport, entertainment, and cultural venues in Perth, Australia.

Stuart has been involved in the event and venue management industry for 18 years, working for various venue management organisations in both Perth and Auckland. Stuart has a broad range of experience in venue types from community sporting facilities, major stadium to performing arts and conference centres.

Stuart has either secured or delivered a broad range of event content from FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, stadium concerts, international sporting tests, major music festivals, international conferences to the performing arts theatrical seasons and festivals.

Having held both senior level operational and commercial roles during his career, Stuart’s brings a unique insight into the value chain for venue management organisations securing and delivering events.

Stuart has a strong background in venue and event operations with a key interest in patron safety, risk management and emergency response.

Megan O’Toole, Head Stadium Operations, AFL - Marvel Stadium Australia

eaker: Professional Development Workshop – Melbourne, Abbotsford Convent, 10 April, 2024

Megan has over 25 years’ experience in mega-event and venue management working on projects in the Middle East, UK, New Zealand, China, Japan and Australia.

 Currently Head of Operations at Marvel Stadium (AFL), Megan oversees the operational planning and delivery of more than 70 major sporting events and concerts each year that attract 2 million plus patrons.  With a remit across the disciplines of ticketing, workforce, customer experience, carpark, operations, stadium contractors and tenancies; Megan leads a large team that on event days features over 500 Marvel Stadium operations and customer service staff working seamlessly with over 1,000 frontline contract personnel (catering, security and cleaning) to deliver safe, welcoming, inclusive and positive event-day experiences.  

 Prior to joining the AFL, Megan had leadership roles in the mega-event space of World Expos in Dubai (2020), Shanghai (2010) and Nagoya (2005) where she was responsible for the operational planning, delivery and deployment of large international and local workforces in complex event environments rich in cultural, logistical and operational challenges.

Megan also has several years of experience in contract catering for major events and iconic venues throughout Melbourne including the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Avalon International Air Show, the Australian Grand Prix, MotoGP and Melbourne Fashion Festival and venues such as Melbourne Museum, Royal Exhibition Building, Sovereign Hill, Royal Botanic Gardens and the Australian Event Centre.




Nadia Owen, Head of Meetings & Special Events, VenuesLive WA – Optus Stadium

Speaker: Professional Development Workshop – Perth, HBF Park, 6 March, 2024

Nadia has been the Head of Meetings & Special Events at Optus Stadium since 2017, overseeing significant department growth during this period and bringing a secondary revenue stream to the forefront of the business.

 With a rich background spanning over two decades in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) industry across Australia, Europe, Southeast Asia, and New Zealand, and a decade dedicated to stadiums, Nadia brings a wealth of experience to her role. She is a passionate advocate for the year-round utilisation of mega venues, leveraging her extensive knowledge to engage audiences and elevate the success of diverse revenue streams.

Nadia is widely recognised for her commitment to industry leadership and is a mentor to several women in corporate Perth. Beyond her professional accomplishments Nadia has cultivated a recognisable personal brand on LinkedIn.

Lorraine Rice, Head of Venue Operations, Perth Concert Hall

Speaker: Professional Development Workshop – Perth, HBF Park, 6 March, 2024

A practised business professional with 21 years experience in the performing arts; event and hospitality management; quality and change management and customer relationship management.

Lorraine is a highly experienced Manager and has been recognised by the Venue Management Association for her professional achievement and accomplishment in the management of venues, and achieved the designation of Accredited Venue Manager.

Lorraine is also an accredited Quality Manager and, in this role, she achieved ISO certification for the venues previously managed by AEG Ogden (Perth) Pty Ltd and consulted for Perth Arena in the development of their certification.

Her role at WAVE encompasses the management of venue operations; front-of-house staff; ticketing staff; customer relationship management; food and beverage; project and facilities management; security, risk and emergency management.

This role also includes dealing with a range of stakeholders including Government representatives, promoters and suppliers.

Lorraine also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Counselling from the University of Notre Dame and is an avid traveller and history buff.

Scott Taylor CPP, JP, Managing Director, Praesidium Risk and Resilience

Speaker: Professional Development Workshops

-Brisbane, Brisbane City Hall, 20 March, 2024

-Sydney, Sydney Masonic Centre, 3 April, 2024

-Melbourne, Abbotsford Convent, 10 April, 2024

-Glenorchy, MyState Bank Area, 16 July, 2024

Scott Taylor CPP is a Combined Communications Expert and Security, Safety and Risk Specialist with 29 years global industry experience. He is an industry thought leader who is Internationally Board Certified in Security Management and has shared his knowledge and expertise globally through specialist consulting and contextualised training. He has trained with the leading authorities on body language, deception detection statement analysis and facial micro-expressions and is a sought-after industry spokesperson. Hs is an accomplished keynote speaker who site on numerous International Security Councils to ensure he stays abreast of best practise in his field of expertise which directly translates into heightened outcomes for his clients.

Houri Tapiki, General Manager, Theatre Royal Sydney

Speaker: Professional Development Workshop – Sydney, Sydney Masonic Centre, 3 April, 2024

With over two decades of experience in Venues, ticketing and events, Houri Tapiki has a wealth of experience both in Australia and globally leading large-scale projects and events within the Entertainment industry.

Prior to joining Trafalgar Entertainment, Houri held a Senior Management position at Ticketek, leading the Client Services teams nationally, working closely with major Theatres, Arenas and Stadiums across the country.

She was also an instrumental part of the pre-opening and opening team for Dubai Opera, a 2000-seat mmulti-format theatre located in the heart of Downtown Dubai.

Houri has a passion for building exceptional customer experiences and a dedication to consistently exceeding customer expectations. In February 2021, Houri joined Trafalgar Entertainment as Head of Customer Experience for Theatre Royal Sydney before being promoted to General Manager in December of the same year.

In all leadership roles she has held, Houri Tapiki goes beyond the operational aspects, fostering a culture of innovation, collaboration, and excellence in every project she undertakes.

Bourby Webster, Chief Rule-Breaker & Game Changer | Get Things Done Director, NORTH STREET GROUP: North Street Consulting | North Street Music

Speaker: Professional Development Workshop – Perth, HBF Park, 6 March, 2024

Bourby Webster is a rule breaker, game changer and advocate for women. She is also an experienced CEO, concert promoter, creative director, professional musician, entrepreneur, mentor and consultant. Bourby founded the ground-breaking Perth Symphony Orchestra, and, at the point of her departure in December 2022 is one of WA’s largest and fastest growing arts companies. Bourby is Director of North Street Music and is also a successful business consultant through North Street Consulting, specialising in strategic business development. She is currently setting up a regional arts and events company, a corporate consulting firm, and is expanding North Street Music into a new major events and concerts production company in development with a global music entity.

An inspirational speaker, Bourby is in demand as a keynote and motivational speaker and panellist . Bourby has an MBA from UWA, an MA in music from Oxford University, and is a graduate of the Royal College of Music. In 2022 she was named in Business News’ Power 500 list and has been a winner of a Business News 40 Under 40 award for Entrepreneurs and a finalist in the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year Awards (WA).

In 2019 she was named Western Australian of the Year (Arts & Culture).

She was a founding member of the UK-based electric string quartet ‘bond’ signed to Decca Records. She is a medal-winning, international-level coxswain and was the first female coxswain in 106 years of the WA Kings Cup State Rowing Crew in 2002.


Scott Woodham, General Manager, Blundstone Arena

Speaker: Professional Development Workshop – Glenorchy, MyState Bank Area, 16 July, 2024

Scott is a accomplished and dedicated professional with a wealth of experience in the Facility and Venue Management industry.

As General Manager of Venue Operations at Blundstone Arena, Scott plays a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth and efficient functioning of one of Australia’s premier boutique sporting venues.

Before joining Cricket Tasmania in October 2021, Scott held positions as the General Manager of the Silverdome Launceston and the State Facility and Services Manager for TasTAFE, honing his skills in facility management, event planning, risk management, and customer service.

Hera Yaghlejian, Business Development & Partnerships Manager – International Convention Centre, Sydney

Facilitator: Professional Development Workshop – Sydney, Sydney Masonic Centre, 3 April, 2024

Bio coming soon.

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