Helen Papadomanolakis is a young woman with a killer handshake. Working in major and community event production she has set her own place in this male-dominated industry at only 25 years of age. I am in awe of the way this young woman conducts herself and having had the pleasure of working on event together, can tell you first hand that her professionalism and organisation are appreciated and respected by all onsite (as well as her ability to drive a forklift whilst having a phone conversation with a supplier, give instructions to crew via the radio and eat a pizza slice simultaneously, all with a smile on her face!).
You are in your early 20s and the production manager for two large cultural festivals, Midsumma and Lonsdale Street Festival (Antipodes), do you find it difficult being both female and young in these roles?
I’ve been submerged in events for 6 years now and been involved in many major events within many different capacities, when I speak to people on the phone or via email they expect to meet someone who’s in their mid to late 30’s, and then they meet me who’s 167cm and 25 years old.
It can be difficult at times because people tend to underestimate your capabilities or don’t understand what my job actually encompasses. I don’t expect people to understand what I do or how I do it, I just want them to respect it – I think this is key. I’ve found that having a killer hand shake makes all the difference, it cements an idea into people’s heads which reflects you as an individual.
Then they see you driving a forklift or a truck and peoples eyeballs tend to pop out of their heads.
How did you find you were first interested in event production?
I kind of fell into production. I studied an Event Management degree and then went off to do a Technical Production course because I felt that there was a missing link in my degree. I work in a bunch of different capacities in events; I’ve produced major events from top to bottom, worked a as volunteer, managed volunteers and sponsors, stage managed events and the list goes on.
The thing I’m drawn to most about event production is the freedom to be creative, to be able to build events that activate and create experiences and the flexibility of where my office can actually be. I love the hands on element, the intense pressure and ridiculous grey hair causing deadlines.
The Women Who Are Behind Live Entertainment:
What is your favorite moment of a show or production?
When you see up to 12 months worth of work and planning attract tens of thousands of people into this site that has appeared from nowhere in just a few days. To be able to walk though or site and see people enjoying themselves is ridiculously rewarding, but most of all sitting somewhere where nobody else can access and taking it all in from above, thinking ‘I just did that” is probably the most humbling and satisfying moment of the entire project.
Seems like you’re always on the go, how to you relax after a big gig or season?
Indeed! My schedules are ridiculously intense. In 2015 I have 3 major events, two of which attract over 100,000 people, within a 6 week period. By the end of the 6 weeks, you would imagine that all you want to do is curl up in a ball and hide somewhere for a while. Not me! You’ll either catch me training at the gym, renovating, being a snapparazzi (because I think the best photos are taken when you’re not so serious), or jetsetting around the world.
Helen Papadomanolakis is the Production manager for Midsumma Festival (2014 & 2015) as well as the Festival Operations Manager at Lonsdale Street Festival as part of Antipodes. This astounding young woman has undertaken all these roles whilst holding down her job as GM of Gemini tours bus company simultaneously. You can connect with Helen and find out more about her work history via Linked In