On the Floor with Stacey Kirkpatrick

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On the Floor with Stacey Kirkpatrick

Stacey Kirkpatrick – head of Aerial UTS Event Centre at the University of Technology and GM of Hop and Clover Brewing Co

You were working in HR before you decided to move into events. How did your former career help you with your current one?

My work in HR was primarily in recruitment. Working at TAFE and UNSW, it was a very diverse and sometimes unique job you could be recruiting for, which often meant you had to be creative in where you were sourcing potential candidates from. Working in HR also meant that you were talking to people every day and negotiating how best to make things work; whether it was my client or a potential candidate. It was these skills that were the most valuable when transitioning into the events industry. The most important skill I think I have in my current job and in

Stacey Kirkpatrick the MEA Awards

this industry is to listen. It’s taking the time to listen to clients and your staff that can make all the difference.

What advice would you give to someone considering changing industries like you did? 

I would have 2 key messages.

  1. Never stop learning. Whether it’s from studying a new course, learning from experience or learning from others; never limit yourself when you think you ‘know it all’ – because you never do
  2. Believe in yourself. A new industry and new direction can possibly mean some stumbling blocks, maybe a mistake or 2, maybe just plain old getting it wrong.  But remember you are doing this because you want a change or a challenge (or both) and that every stumble is an opportunity to learn and change. Remember the first person that needs to back you is YOU.

What do you love about the events and hospitality industries? What makes your personality well suited to this work?

It’s never dull. Every day can be different – and yes stressful and sometimes table flippingly frustrating, but the result of seeing a happy client even from the smallest thing that you have done is rewarding. My personality can sometimes be quite bold, but I also think I have a helper attitude in wanting to see people succeed. The key personality trait for this industry is patience blended with determination.

Women tend to be better represented in the events sector than in other areas of hospitality, like cheffing. Why do you think this is? Are you seeing any trends or changes here?

I really wish I knew the answer to this. I do think that the hospitality industry isn’t as well paid as other industries and that can deter some people. In addition, a track for promotion or ‘recognition’ may not come fast enough for some, especially if a clear path isn’t defined. It does blow my mind given what the events and hospitality industry can contribute to our economy.

I do hope to see a change and more recognition for what hospitality and events contribute to the Australian economy. I am seeing more fantastic women cheffing and showing the world what amazing talent they have. I hope it is the beginning of fantastic things to come.

How did you come to be involved in Hop and Clover? Describe the micro-brewery for us and what role you play there.

It was actually my husband that started talking about the idea of starting up a micro-brewery with another couple who were also mad for beer. His reasoning to want to give it a go was that he didn’t want to get to the end of his life

The team from Hop and Clover Brewing Co at their launch

and realise that he hadn’t taken a chance on something he was really passionate about – regardless of its success or not. I was 10000000% behind his desire to do this and after chatting to our friends, we decided to give it a go and be equal partners.

The brewery name is a 50/50 representation of the 2 couples. The Hop comes from the fact that my husband and I grow hops in our backyard, and the Clover represents the Irish half. We are very much about depicting that we’re friends who love to brew, and that’s the message and image we want to put out into the market.

The roles in the business are fairly fluid in terms of ‘who does what’, however I tend to fall into a management role – seeing the bigger picture and then breaking it down, providing a different perspective.  Old habits, I guess.

Does your experience in events help you in this other role?

Definitely. Listening, negotiation, refocusing, brainstorming, trial and error – and sometimes a swift kick up the bum to get the ideas moving!

What’s in store for you in 2019?

Opportunity. Who knows what will come with a new year. With any luck, a successful beer brand would be a great start!