Let's talk with Louise Maher
1. In a few words tell us about your current role.
I am the Director/Event Maker at Hunter Valley Events. Hunter Valley Events is a leading event management agency specialising in all things Hunter. Events that help to build brands and strengthen teams are our forte. My days are spent working with our team to “bring people together” for our clients – in a ‘surprise and delight’ fashion.
2. How have you reached this point in your professional life?
I was one of the lucky ones who knew which direction they were heading out of the school gate – and I have been on a wonderful journey of Tourism and Events ever since. My first stop was a Tourism Diploma Course at TAFE (no uni courses offered back then!) Next it was retail travel where I quickly learned the art of customer service, attention to detail and how much more the world of tourism had to offer. Hilton hotels were having a heyday in Australia, and a job in their Sydney sales office introduced me to the serious end of hotel town. It was here that I had my first taste of encouraging the growth of corporate business.
These were all great foundations, but a little too serious for a 23 year old – so when a dream job came up in sales for the 18-35’s tour company, Contiki Holidays – I jumped on the bus (so to speak!)
And there began the rest of my life, honing sales & marketing skills, making lifelong friends, and travelling the world escorting travel industry familiarisations – including one to NZ where I met my life partner and now business partner Gus Maher, who was the Sales Manager for Contiki in NZ. A stint in NZ followed working for Contiki’s parent company, assisting to promote their tourism acquisitions. Then back across the Tasman to Sydney where the next chapter involved working in a Conference and Incentive Agency, creating reward and recognition solutions for corporations.
My skill set developed to a whole new level in the field of creativity, where I found my calling. Organising large scale, high end events in the most amazing cities in the world, for Australia’s largest corporations – all while dealing with a number of stakeholders – was something I revelled in.
Marriage and children bought me back down to earth and to the Hunter Valley, where a lifestyle of work and family played out nicely – that’s what our region offers right! After a time setting up the Business Tourism arm of Hunter Valley Wine Country Tourism, Hunter Valley Events was born to service a market that was growing due to the infrastructure investment in the conference and event venues of the region. Our company has now been operating for over 17 years – and we are still having fun!
How did I reach this point…moving to a region, where you know your acquired skills set are needed, to set up a business, is not only something that a lot of hard work over the years gives you the confidence to do – but a just reward for doing so.
3. When you’re not at work, where can we find you?
At Bar Beach with my family, enjoying our new found lifestyle since moving from the Hunter Valley. I love the outdoors and exercise…oh and eating and drinking the amazing produce in our Region! Of course I’ve also got a natural passion for events – so any excuse to go to one, I loved going to the Australian Open last year.
4. Where do you find inspiration?
A common question asked of an Events Director, as you are basically an ideas bank, for people to draw upon at any time. I keep my antennae up 24/7, there’s no such thing as a new idea, and great ideas are the collaboration of found and shared knowledge.
5. What advice would you give to someone just starting out in your field?
This wise advice was given to me by my amazing mother – and it certainly has kept me in line over the years;
• The harder you work the luckier you get
• Be careful what you ask for
• Everyday above the ground is a bonus, so enjoy what you do!
6. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I have that number 11 thing that I see everywhere, which started from when I got married on the 11th November at 11.11 am (didn’t want to be disrespectful to Remembrance Day) eg; the clock reads 11.11 when I just happen to look at it most days. I think it might be due to the thought that visualising something can make it happen – which is pretty much my philosophy in life and work.
7. How would you like to see the Hunter evolve over the next decade?
Those who know me, may have heard this just a few times – Newcastle we need more largescale, world class event spaces, with local infrastructure such as transport systems, hotel rooms and service suppliers to grow and develop to support this important part of our tourism industry.
8. What’s your favourite Hunter restaurant/café/bar?
We are currently eating our way through all of the restaurants in Newcastle – so ask me again in a year. I’ve had so many amazing experiences (and so have our clients) over the years in the Hunter Valley, but our family ‘special occasion’ restaurant is Bistro Molines – Robert & Sally have such a wonderful way of knowing how to spoil you.
9. Are you reading anything at the moment?
Just finished the epic, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, not for the faint hearted…so have moved onto something a little lighter in the 7th book in the Clifton Chronicles Series by Jeffrey Archer.
10. Do you have a favourite sport or team?
I like listening to my husband and son enjoy their exchange of sporting banter. And I love my newly found party trick (aka yoga pose) of doing a headstand.
11. What’s the best line from a film you’ve ever heard?
“You're terrible, Muriel” from Muriel’s wedding – makes me laugh, especially at myself, every time!