Leadership / 08.10.22
Women Ticketing Pros Offer Tips on Achieving Success, Work-Life Balance and More
Our monthly Women in Ticketing series is one of our more widely read regular features. I have written most of them. And one of the questions I ask frequently is, “Do you have any advice to young female professionals just starting out in the ticketing and live events space?” The answers have always been insightful. Since the first of the year, they have also been quite varied. And such nuggets of wisdom will certainly apply to a wider array of people reading this compilation — a collection that also includes new insights from some who have yet to be featured.
Maria Fulay, Senior Director of Ticket Operations for the YouTube Theater in California, was all about opening oneself up to the many possibilities that lie ahead. “Ask questions and take notes,” she said. “Be curious and confident, crave new things, be passionate and purposeful in your words and actions, make mistakes, and always learn from them.”
Ticketpro President Guislaine Bulman added, “Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself, to bring attention to the value that you bring to the organization. Advocate for yourself the same way you would advocate for a client, a customer, or a co-worker. If you find that difficult, like I did, remember that by advocating for yourself, you are also advocating for those who will follow you.”
Lyndsey Jackson, Deputy CEO of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, stressed the importance of not taking yourself out of the game before even entering the game. “Apply for the job!” she urged. “Too often women don’t apply for the big roles because we don’t have 100% of the skills and experience. Whereas guys will go for it if they reckon they can do it and upsell their existing skills. So, if you think you can do the job, then apply. Get someone else to review your application, and ensure you’re selling yourself using active language and all that super positive stuff, and we’ll get more excellent women in the big jobs.”
Anna Wessely, chief technology officer at Digonex, picked up on that and went a bit further: “One of the biggest things I’ve found is that women have a tendency to censor themselves. Too many look at a job description and say, ‘Oh, I don’t check every box so I shouldn’t apply for that.’ To this day, I still find myself taking qualifications out of my emails. Instead of saying ‘just’ and ‘I think,’ I rewrite to become more direct and declarative. Advocate for yourself and your ideas. Apply for that job that you think is a stretch for you. Have a solid salary negotiation. Stretch and try not to make yourself smaller.”
Past INTIX Board Chair Lynne King Smith was particularly eager to give young women tips on how to have some of the success she’s earned and enjoyed. “Shoot for whatever your North Star is and never stop learning,” she said. “Also, don’t do anything you aren’t getting joy from or work for people who don’t respect what you bring to the table.”
Jenifer LaMorte, Vice President of Business Development at Tessitura Network, also talked about ticketing and live events as being a people business. “It’s a cliché,” she said, “but be nice to people and have integrity. You never know from where your next opportunity will appear and who will be handing it to you. I have learned myself that empathy and vulnerability can take you a lot further than perfection — and you’ll be a lot happier on that journey.”
Happiness comes in many forms when it comes to one’s work and career. Hatti Simpson, Ticketing and Digital Manager at the Woolwich Works performance venue in London, preached the importance of slowing down from time to time: “If the pandemic has taught me anything, it's that a work-life balance and rest time outside of work is so important and we shouldn't feel guilty about it,” Simpson said. “Being well-rested means we can be our best selves. If I could give any advice to young women in ticketing it would be to take your time to find your balance, and that it's OK to set your boundaries and stick to them. Take opportunities that serve you well and make the most of them. And if the right opportunities aren’t coming your way, forge your own path!”
From left to right, top row first: Maria Fulay, Guislaine Bulman, Lyndsey Jackson, Anna Wessely, Lynne King Smith, Jenifer LaMorte, Hatti Simpson.
Work-life balance was very much on the mind of Siobhan Steiermann, Vice President of Ticket Operations for the Las Vegas Aviators. She ticked off a list of what women ticketing professionals should aim for in this regard: “Set boundaries, both professional and personal. Also, make and keep appointments with yourself such as self-care, gym, doctor/therapist, date nights. And use your PTO! Take that day off to spend at the spa or with nature, take an extended weekend do to a staycation, etc.”
Jessica Lee, Senior Manager of Ticket and Financial Operations for the Atlanta Braves, offered counsel from the singles perspective: “Just because you are single, and you don’t have kids does not mean that you don’t deserve a work-life balance. It’s OK to say ‘No’ and set boundaries. My friends have given me five, soon to be six, reasons to be ‘Fun Aunt Jess,’ and I take that responsibility seriously. I also have a standing movie night with a group of girlfriends. We’re all at different stages of life so it gives everyone something to look forward to every week. And let’s be real, it’s 40% movie, 60% talking!”
One other interviewee spoke of aiming for a better work-life balance. Jamie Alexander, Director at JCA Arts Marketing, said, “Don’t compete with other people about who is the busiest! I feel like in my early career, it was part of the culture to unofficially compete on who is busier. But I’ve since realized that being busy isn’t a measure of your worth, and it’s totally within your rights to protect your work-life balance. Your work and your life will be better for it.”
Finally, several interviewees made mention of some past pieces of advice that were given to them by mentors and former bosses. Sheena Quinn, Senior Director of Public Relations for the Chicago White Sox, said, “I have been so fortunate to have strong female mentors throughout my career. Many of them have shared critically important lessons that I often share with all of my staff. The first is ‘Lift, while you climb.’ When working in a male-dominated industry, empowering individuals of all experiences [and] backgrounds is our responsibility as we try to move up. The second important lesson is to be a problem-solver and not only a problem-identifier. Offer solutions. Be proactive and creative when you can. Don’t just highlight the challenges ahead.”
Her colleague at the White Sox agreed. Elizabeth “Liz” Milla, the team’s Manager of Financial Reporting and Analysis, said, “Don’t be afraid to ask ‘Why?’ The smartest people in the room are usually the ones asking the questions. You aren’t exposing a lack of knowledge. By thinking critically, you will learn faster and solve problems more efficiently, which will lead to career growth and success.”
Ashley Voorhees, Associate Vice President of Administrative Services for Omaha Performing Arts, recalled something her very first manager once told her that still applies today: “Always remember ‘It’s just tickets.’ I’ve continued to tell my staff the same thing and add, ‘You’ll have days where it feels like everything is falling apart. Take a moment and breathe, adapt to the situation, and you’ll be able to fix it.’”
Finally, Margo Malone, Senior Manager of Season Ticket Memberships and Special Projects for the San Francisco Giants, said, “The one piece of advice that I’d like to impart is the importance of setting boundaries in the workplace. This is especially true for women who are also mothers of small children. I know firsthand how we, as female employees, feel the need to prove ourselves. During my children’s formative years, I worked longer hours for fear of being perceived as not pulling my weight. This may come as a surprise, but you will be more productive, effective, and happier by giving yourself permission to have a life outside of the box office.”
From left to right, top row first: Siobhan Steiermann, Jessica Lee, Jamie Alexander, Sheena Quinn, Elixabeth Milla, Ashley Voorhees, Margo Malone.
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Tags: Leadership , Women in Ticketing