Dropping the mic on Tropfest 25

With headlines in the press leading into the festival like, “Can Tropfest make its big comeback”, and “Film Festival faces crucial test” the pressure was on.

Add to this, predictions of the highest temperatures in history leading into and during the Festival, there was a great deal of anxiety building.

But, we did it!! So, today I sit and reflect on the last 16 months of working to rebuild Tropfest. I helped create a strategic approach to the future, negotiated to secure long-term partnerships and establish destination partners that will enable Tropfest to develop and grow well into the future!

Tropfest transformations over the last 16 months:

  1. Transformed the strategic direction of Tropfest by building the 2020 strategy, then aided the transition of the business to a Not For Profit and introduction of a Board.
  2. The 2020 strategy and plan re-established the Tropfest brand in the marketplace enabling it to rebound, while re-engaging with the Industry in a big way.
  3. Led the successful negotiation of multi-year partnerships with great brands (and teams), in it for the long haul with a genuine connection with the Tropfest audience.
  4. Reshaped the commercial model to create diversified revenue streams, including the ability for fans to buy a ticket for the first time ever – Pick Your Patch – enabling fans to arrive when they want!
  5. Impacted the diversity of filmmakers by introducing an Inclusion Framework, with a transparent judging process. Leading to 50% female representation of the 16 Tropfest Finalist for the first time in its 25-year history.
  6. Strengthened Tropfest’s position as a global innovator by securing a world first broadcast deal with Red Bull TV and created a Tropfest first with a 3-way broadcast (on Channel 11, RBTV and live in Parramatta Park).
  7. Expanded the program to make Tropfest a 5-day Festival, creating new programs and opportunities for filmmakers to share their stories, learn from others in the industry and collaborate with those with a love of film.
  8. Finally, we pulled a crowd of over 35,000 on the hottest day on record in Parramatta Park to enjoy short films made by emerging artists!

Thank you to the team I have worked with along the way, especially Ben Bartlett, Scott Young, our internal team, the Board and the extended partner team – it’s been an incredible experience. To John Polson, thank you for the trust and faith you placed in me (and Ben) to share the custodianship of this amazing brand in delivering all that we have.

For Tropfest 25, not everything worked, some things were ahead of their time, but so many things were transformational for Tropfest. I truly believe, if Tropfest can fill a park on the hottest day in history, the future is very bright indeed. I proudly say I have helped to secure the future of the World’s Largest Short Film Festival. I am extremely excited for the future and I look forward to watching it grow and grow.

Turn first day apathy to energy

Meh to energyLast week was my first week back after a fabulous break, and I really struggled with apathy. Now, it may have had something to do with the fact that I have a 10 week old puppy that keeps my attention longer than anything else at the moment, but I knew I had to snap out of it. So, here are my top 5 tips for converting apathy to energy to kick start 2015:




  1. Write a list of the most exciting deals/projects you will work on this year
    • highlight the most exciting ones and start something on 1 of them today.
    • See if you can palm the not so exciting ones; or reshape them so they are a little more interesting; or get them done quickly so they are off your plate.
  2. Consider your resources, who do you need on your team to deliver these deals/projects
    • Do you have the right mix of skill and knowledge in your existing team.
    • Can you pull someone in from another team or externally to ensure success.
  3. Start the ball rolling on the year, set up meetings for the next week that will kick start some of these projects/deals.
  4. Call people
    • Hearing about what everyone has been up to in their break can be energising.
    • Also, there are a tonne of others out there suffering apathy, so will be happy to hear from you, especially if you can give them some direction.
  5. Change your environment, a new desk location, new note pad, etc – a change is as good as a holiday. Also, if you have to re-write your to do list in a new note pad it will help get your head back in the game.

If all else fails, buy a puppy and enjoy her madness for a while.

Happy 2015, here’s to a huge year of successes!!

How to negotiate a pay rise in 5 steps


I was recently asked – why is it that men are paid more than women? A hot topic which was debated around the table and one of the suggestions was that women are poor negotiators – I disagree, but afterward it got me thinking… Can I translate some of my knowledge from major deal negotiations to negotiating a pay increase – so instead of waiting for ‘karma to do the work’ here are some of my suggestions:

  1. The key to all negotiations is to know your end goal
    • What’s your compromise position; ideal state and perfect world?
    • What will you do if you don’t get what you want?
  2. Next it’s about thinking for the person you are negotiating with:
    • Are they the decision maker? If not, consider how you can help your manager sell this in up the chain.
    • What creative alternatives to cash are available? (additional leave, increase bonus, shorter working hours, car space, less staff, additional training, etc, etc)
  3. Be prepared, this process will take time but you will need a succinct message and supporting documentation for the first discussion (otherwise it will be the last).
    • Have a script (great if you’re nervous), write out why you feel you are entitle to an increase.
    • Managers can’t give you an increase because you’ve been there for a long time or they like you, or because of your lifestyle choices. Something has to have changed – more responsibility, more staff, bigger geographic area, etc.
    • Know your company’s policy for pay increases and have a copy with you (highlighted)
  1. Ensure there are no surprises by creating the best opportunity for this conversation to succeed.
    • Make sure your manager knows the purpose of the meeting in advance.
    • Pick a time/day they are typically quiet, if something major comes up, move it.
    • Consider what they might say or how they may react – brainstorm this with people managers you know, your mentor and someone who knows your manager. Have notes for your response to these potential reactions.
  1. The biggest lesson I have learnt in negotiation is – whoever speaks first loses! Once you have walked through your case you have 2 choices: put a BIG number on the table (my preferred) or put no figure on the table.
    • Whichever path you choose, you need to end with “So, what are your thoughts?” then say nothing for as long as you can – about 45 seconds should do it “shhhhh”!?! They are the manager, let them lead.

Negotiation, by definition, is about reaching an agreement – it shouldn’t be a hostile situation. It can absolutely be stressful, but if you are prepared it can be a great opportunity to remind the business what an asset you are (and to take time to remind yourself of that too). I may be crazy, but negotiation should also be fun – you start with “nothing” then push and pull a bit until you both end up with a bit of this and that, shake hands and move on – so try and keep things in perspective from where you start this process.

In my experience if you don’t have this conversation and your peer was to have asked, wouldn’t you kick yourself. So, finally, consider what advice you would give your best friend in the same situation, then go for it!

This blog was initially published in Women’s Agenda in October 2014.