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“There’s opportunity at every corner and I’m thrilled to now be
part of MEA’s Australian Events Academy, because we’re not only
training in event management, we’re training in leadership styles,
customer service, and understanding the operations of the
“We’re seeing a lot of people in their late 20s and 30s enrolling
for the diploma course from all sectors of the industry.
“We’re also running an essentials program, where there are
more meeting planners in attendance, but when you talk to them
about their entire business they don’t necessarily know a lot about
it, so perhaps management style and leadership is where we can
do a lot more work.
“Even sitting at a committee meeting as an event manager, you
must have confidence and the right skills to be able to face the
situations because everyone is ahead of us all today, everyone has
a friend who’s had a conference, or been to one, or picked out the
eyes of one.”
Some of Ms Lilian’s proudest moments in her now 40-year-long
career are derived from the opportunities she forged out of crisis.
“Some of my greatest achievements were when I had shocking
dilemmas,” Ms Lilian says, “like when a cyclone hit Broome in the
90’s and we were taking 350-odd delegates up there for a
“The cyclone hit on the night before Easter and we worked over
the long weekend to move the conference to Sydney.
“Another instance was in 2001. We were about to do a
conference when 9/11 struck and two of my speakers were top
forensic psychiatrists from the US who were waiting to get on a
plane. So I turned around to the committee and I said “we have
the greatest opportunity to call a media conference!”
“We were meeting at the InterCon and needless to say, we
couldn’t move due to all the media that showed up and my
forensic psychiatrists made it on the first flight out of the US once
airports had reopened.
“It’s all about what you can turn around. That’s why everything is
an opportunity and people need to think outside of the square.”
As well as pioneering the meetings industry and introducing
event insurance to Australia, Ms Lilian has also been involved with
Meetings and Events Australia and the Exhibition and Event
Association of Australia, worked with a number of not for profit
organisations at committee and board levels, and was awarded an
Order of Australia medal in 2008 for services to the Meetings and
Events Industry, Specialist Medical Societies and Community.
At this year’s MEA conference in KL she also received the
Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Australian Meetings and
“It’s just been a beautiful journey and I still feel so proud of what
I’ve been able to achieve and the beautiful people I’ve had the
opportunity to meet and work with,” she says.
And the secret to longevity?
“I always say, if you can’t stand on your feet for more than 12
hours and keep a smile on your face, then don’t bother.” m
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