Lara Burnes GENERAL MANAGEMENT NAME: Lara Burnes AGE: 36 ROLE: General Manager, Premier Events and Experiences COMPANY: Melbourne and Olympic Parks Lara’s career in the events industry has allowed her to pursue one of her personal passions and that is travel. Growing up in a small town on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Lara has always been keen to explore Australia and the world. 20 years working exclusively in the events industry has enabled her to work in the United States and in four different states across Australia. She has held different roles including event management and sales, operations, venue management across bars, hotels and corporate sales. For the past 15 years Lara has been in leadership- a role she says “encapsulates it all”. Lara is passionate about the events industry. However, she says it also involves a lot of hard work. “It’s the best industry in the world. To get to the top takes a lot of hard work and passion.” Lara says. As General Manager, Lara is responsible for sales and operations, managing the team acquiring business events and corporate hospitality as well as managing the team that operates those events for all Melbourne and Olympic Parks venues. “It’s the best industry in the world. To get to the top takes a lot of hard work and passion.” Home of the Australian Open and holding over 650 events a year, Lara describes her work environment as “exciting and dynamic”. Each day is different working at Melbourne and Olympic Parks but every day she is surrounded by activity and remarkable infrastructure. Aside from working in such a dynamic environment, Lara says the best thing about her job is seeing her hard work come together. “Seeing an event come together that you’ve spent weeks, months, years on is something I thrive on. All of the sweat, tears, blood, laughter, no sleep. It’s definitely worth it in the end.” She says. Lara says working in multiple roles and managing teams with a variety of personalities and ages has helped her grow as a person and a leader. She says it is important to have patience, respect and appreciation for how different people operate. Lara’s next focus is leading the latest redevelopment project at Melbourne and Olympic Parks, the new conference and events centre. Lara is in charge of leading the development and construction plans as well as creating a marketing and sales campaign for the new building. Running over three years, the $271 million redevelopment will include a 200-square metre pillarless ballroom, a 250- seat auditorium, multiple breakout rooms and outdoor terraces. Developments will also include a 5000-seat show court arena to cater for the growing popularity of the Australian Open. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2021.