Graduate now deputy GM of nation’s best festival | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Graduate now deputy GM of nation’s best festival

A job with the Woodford Folk Festival has become career magic for USC Business graduate Kim Pengelly.

The 27-year-old from Kawana is celebrating her promotion to deputy general manager of the festival, which this month won the major event category at the Australian Tourism Awards – beating even Victoria’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.

“It’s exciting because I love this festival and all of the people in it, including the large volunteer base and community network,” said Ms Pengelly, who gained the position of commercial manager at the festival within a year of graduating from her Bachelor of Business in 2010.

She is continuing in that role while “learning the ropes” as deputy to long-time general manager Amanda Jackes.

“Other than ticket sales, all the festival’s income streams remain under my umbrella,” she said. “That includes trade and sponsorship agreements, 180 stalls, 14 bars, a festival shop, extensive merchandise, two general stores, the dispatch department, on-site restaurants, cafes and internet cafes, and advertising.

“I’ll be doing more top-level negotiations and taking on funding applications, such as infrastructure grants to continue to shape ‘Woodfordia’ into the beautiful parkland we dream it to be.”

Pictured: Kim Pengelly (right) with festival executive assistant Eileen O'Shea holding their trophy at the Australian Tourism Awards.

Ms Pengelly is gearing up for her fifth festival this year, with tickets currently on sale for the world-renowned music, arts and cultural event from 27 December to 1 January.

“It’s the most magic place to work. It’s pretty rare for people to wish their Sundays away so they can get back to the office on Monday,” said the former Mountain Creek State High School student.

Ms Pengelly, who won the award for the Highest Achieving Student in Event Management at USC in 2009, said she was steered towards the original job through the coordinator of USC’s Event Management minor, David Gration.

Mr Gration said his former student’s success was a great example for other USC students aspiring to work in the industry, and a sign of the growing strength of the events industry in the region.

Ms Pengelly, who has also tutored in event management at USC, said she would continue to draw on skills from her degree, with a major in public relations and a minor in event management.

“We trade millions of dollars within the six days so it’s critical to have a business background. Our annual impact on the region’s economy last year was $24 million.

“It’s really a credit to my team that things run so smoothly. I have 43 contractors and department heads who manage 768 volunteers.

“I also get to do the glamorous stuff. Accepting the national tourism award at the black tie function in Adelaide was a massive privilege, standing next to some of the biggest and most reputable events in the country.

“I’ve employed a few USC grads and have had USC interns because I think it’s great to fuse the theory learned at university with real-life experience.”

— Julie Schomberg

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