MCEC Events Experts: Anthea Fahey, Operations Manager
By Deni Kirkova|
Anthea Fahey uses critical thinking, collaboration and creativity to create safe and seamless events in her role as Operations Manager. Find out all about her role.
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) has many different spaces that hold unique events of varying scales at any one time. No two days are the same, and the impacts of components like crowds and noise need to be carefully managed.
We are one of the largest conference and exhibition venues in the southern hemisphere. So, the role of an Operations Manager like Anthea Fahey is essential to ensure events are compliant and can coexist.
This key role considers patron flow between spaces and how each one is used throughout the day for cohesion between and within events.
Anthea is the latest star of our Event Expert docuseries showcasing MCEC’s incredible people as they plan and deliver momentous experiences.
A skilled Operations Manager, Anthea works with event organisers to ensure the safe delivery of their event within the venue. One of her main goals is to properly manage risks to the high standards we’re known for.
Anthea has a holistic view of MCEC, operations and touchpoints throughout the event life cycle. She is a point of contact for support, advice and escalation from sales enquiry to delivery.
During event conception, Anthea is an expert at cohesively mapping out floorplans. She says: "I am meticulously detailed, reviewing every element that gets placed within our four walls."
"I have a bit of an old school approach as I like to print off the floor plan and get out my highlighters and pens. From a bird's eye view, I circle elements that I'm not sure of and note the patron flow and various measurements. This is so I can question and document what’s required to have the floorplan approved from my perspective."
Once Anthea completes a review, she sits down with the event planner to work through questions and queries.
Everything on the floorplan needs to be carefully considered. This includes emergency exit points, staging, flooring, rigging elements, exhibition stands, AV and lighting requirements and open space.
If there's a certain item or stage that would require a queue, for example, Anthea looks at how that works with what's around. She determines how many people we can safely have in a particular space at one time.
Anthea advises on events today, next week and well ahead. She conducts site visits and liaises with event organisers, contractors and suppliers.
Her expertise guides event functionality, custom stands, capacity, animal management and all manner of weird and wonderful things.
Nutting out an event plan that is safe, accessible and enjoyable takes some work.
So, the Operations Manager joins the Event Delivery Manager who gathers all relevant subject matter experts for a meeting. These include Food and Beverage, Retail, Logistics, Customer Service and Technology. Together, they go through the event plan in detail from bump in to bump out.
Approaching event day, Anthea will later often go down into the event space to do a review of how things are progressing.
She reviews every detail with her floorplan in hand and her eyes and ears open, looking for any areas of safety concern. If certain elements are set up incorrectly or in unsafe places that go against what the floorplan is approved for, she organises a conversation with the organiser and contractors to rectify.
Anthea says: "When an event is live it is a fast-moving environment. I often need to make quick, thorough decisions using critical and creative thinking. I have to balance the organiser's wants and expectations while upholding our requirements."
Outside of work at MCEC, Anthea has a strong background in sports, crafts and events. She’s a national competitive swimmer, swimming teacher and coach and self-professed crazy cat lady who loves to sew and bake.
Anthea also runs a craft business, Tiggy and To , with her mum Susan. They make unique handmade items including heirloom patchwork quilts, baby blankets and kitsch cat collars, with a focus on repurposing vintage materials and fabrics.
She says: "I love to dedicate time to sewing. Creating unique items with gorgeous fabrics is a real thrill."
Anthea came to MCEC from a role with the Victorian Government where she advised on policy work and conducted stakeholder engagement, while advocating for the events sector. She helped to create the Public Events Framework enabling the safe delivery of events during COVID19 and reinvigorating live events post the pandemic.
She says: "After planning for event recovery, I realised that I wanted to jump back into the fast-paced, ever-changing environment of working on the ground at events."
"Whether people attend an event at MCEC to learn, play, explore or network – the energy and the vibe are positive. The events that inspire creative, innovative thinking keep me excited. A few of my favourites are the Cat Lovers Show and the Craft and Quilt Show."
Anthea was recently selected for the inaugural Chamber Change program with the Victorian Chamber of Commerce. The 3-month program helps women in business mentor, network, empower and grow alongside each other.
With a focus on balance, empowerment and career journeys, it’s a space where female chief executive Chamber Change experts share their journeys and form organic networks with other program participants.
Anthea says she 'feels at home' at MCEC and thrives in an environment 'where I'm encouraged to go against the status quo to find a way forward.
"The nature of my role means operations managers are often presented with a challenge. So, we work with internal departments to workshop a solution, usually with a brand-new approach."
Through her hard work and dedication, Anthea continues to thrive at MCEC, innovating to ensure safe and seamless events.
Ready to plan an epic event in 2024 and beyond? Reach out to the team and discover the difference.