Leadership / 03.03.21
It’s All in the Family for These Ticketing and Live Event Professionals
Leading image courtesy of the Moon Wallis family, featuring kids Ruby (21), Sasha (15) and Jonah (12).
Ticketing and live event professionals work with all sorts of people — everyone from athletes and artists to marketers and promoters to big-money investors and blue-collar support staff. A few even work with their spouses or grown-up kids!
Some are on staff at the same venues or companies. Others are just in the same line of work, but with different employers. All of those interviewed for this feature acknowledge there are pluses and minuses to being under the same umbrella professionally. Take Caroline Fenton, for example. She met her husband, Kevin, while they both worked at University of Colorado’s (CU’s) athletic ticketing department. Caroline’s subsequent career has included stints at the Denver Center and Paciolan, while Kevin has worked for everyone from AudienceView to Paciolan himself.
Caroline counted off the pros to being in the same business as her spouse, including sharing similar interests, understanding the long hours and enjoying shared memories. “We worked our first 11 years together in the CU Athletic Department,” she says, “so we got to spend a lot of time together giving our relationship a chance to grow. Because we are in the same ticketing world, we both understand the nature of the business that can, at times, be unpredictable. The hours can be long, and sometimes you are on call 24/7.”
She continues, “To coin one of Maureen Andersen’s phrases, ‘due to theatrical bookings,’ things can change in a flash for either one of us. Because we have what I call ‘ticketing intel’ — we know what is about to happen — when one of us is to be pulled away, the other jumps into the supportive role and takes over life’s daily duties.”
Norm Major and his wife, April, also work in the ticketing field. He is at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts (they worked there together for a period) in Costa Mesa, California, and she is now with Live Nation. They, too, have been able to recognize the benefits over the years. “It’s nice to be able to talk shop, including problem solving issues we have in common,” he says. “We can empathize with each other on a deeper level when dealing with work issues. It’s really nice when your spouse understands why you have to work an extra hour after working a 12-hour day.”
But what about the advantages of working not with one’s husband or wife, but with one’s parent? Microcom National Account Manager Andrea Flowers and her dad both work for the same firm. The benefit is they get to see each other every day. “Life is busy,” she says. “In addition to work, I am also a wife and mother to two beautiful daughters that keep me moving. It was hard scheduling time to see everyone before, let alone now during COVID days. It’s particularly nice when I get to travel with my father to trade shows and such, as we usually have dinner together at least one of the nights we are away.”
There’s also built-in motivation, she says. “When I accomplish a goal at work, that’s great. Knowing that ‘my goal’ is also helping my father’s business just makes it a little sweeter.”
Of course, there are challenges and drawbacks to working in such close proximity to a loved one. Dickon Wallis, Product Manager with AudienceView, is colleagues with his wife, April Moon of Precious Productions. As such, he and she have sometimes fought over the same pool of part-time ticketing staffers. It’s also been hard at times coordinating evening and weekend work and not neglecting family. “Some of us like to keep our work and personal separate, and others of us don’t care,” he says.
Fenton listed “kids and life balance” as having been her and her husband’s No. 1 challenge over the years. “Working events before we had kids, we never gave it much thought,” she says. “But once we had kids, we had to think about fitting the family and work in. Our life balance at times became a challenge, especially working in the same place when the seasons got hectic. Many times, to make it all work, the kids just came along. We had a playpen in the back room when they were small. As they got bigger, they learned to go find someone else in the department that had more exciting things to do, like the concession person who loaded them up with treats. Even when we did not work in the same place, there were times the kids would need to go to work with one parent. Many dinners and homework took place at stadiums and arenas.”
Speaking of his marriage, Major says, “We don’t see each other very often during parts of the year. Being in different verticals contributes to this, as my season begins when her season is ending. The difference in our jobs can be highlighted by heated exchanges about what can and can’t be done at our respective venues, and we talk about work way too much in general. It’s hard to invoke the ‘I am done talking about work’ rule, because we both deeply care about what we do. The pandemic really hit us hard because we are both shut down at the same time.”
Finally, when asked to give advice to other INTIX members reading this who are also working with loved ones or who may one day be in such situations, all the interviewees were eager to impart their wisdom. Major advises, “Have more in common than just work. Laugh at and with each other. Make clear boundaries that can be invoked when one of you gets frustrated. Be supportive, have an open mind and, most important, communicate!”
Flowers agrees, adding, “Try, as best you can, to keep your regular life and office life separate. It’s easy to let conversations outside of work be dominated by office talk.”
Moon says, “Know when to keep professional and personal separate. [My husband and I] pride ourselves on the fact that we can go an entire week at the same conference and other delegates have no idea that we are partners. Also, not everything has to be shared. Have your own ticketing friends. And have friends that do NOT work in the business!”
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Tags: Memberships , Leadership