Esti Venske, 34, is the senior lecturer in event management at the Tourism and Events Department, Faculty of Business and Management Sciences, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).
Says Esti: “Within this department I also fulfil the roles of programme co-ordinator for the event management academic programme and curriculum officer for the tourism management and events management programmes.
“The CPUT proudly pioneered the National Diploma in Event Management in South Africa where a combination of knowledge and skills application is the main mode of facilitation to empower graduates to make a meaningful contribution to the event industry and community at large.
“Industry participation within the delivery of the programme forms a vital component of the course in the form of participation within the classroom, practical event exposure at events and structured work integrated learning on-site at event companies.
“As curriculum officer, my current focus is on the continuous development and improvement of suitable curriculum to contribute to the sustainable development of event management skills in support of economic growth for employment in the sector in collaboration with industry role players.”
Esti added: “Over the years, I have had the opportunity to see numerous graduates take up positions in the industry and I do feel a sense of achievement when they succeed.
“On a personal level, I have had the opportunity to present event management research papers internationally, contribute to academic development of event management curriculum and previously won the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences’ Distinguished Teacher award.”
When did you realise you wanted to be in business events?
During my years of study, I specialised in the field of tourism and hospitality management as a career choice and seeing that there was no formal event management qualification at the time, I spent my free time volunteering, job shadowing and working at events trying to learn as much as possible.
“When I then had the opportunity to pursue a career in higher education, I could see the link and the importance of skills and experience for a vocational field such as event management.
Were you discouraged from pursuing a career in business events?
No. Although I do suppose there are safer career choices. In business events, the sector and skills required are so vast, you really need to work hard at finding your place in the industry, and where you would fit best and contribute best.
How long have you been in the industry?
I have been involved in higher education since 2003 with standing experience in hosting events, specialising in academic conferences and facilitating a range of students with a strong focus on corporate social responsibility.
What challenges do you face as a young person in this industry?
The saying that the more I learn, the less I know rings true. This industry is extremely dynamic and to competently keep up to date with the latest innovations and trends in order to cascade it to future graduates, remains a challenging priority. I am a lifelong learner and very appreciative of industry members who afford their time to share knowledge and expertise. In this discipline, real life experience is very important to underpin educational content.
What does your job entail?
My job is guided by three pillars: research, teaching and learning, and community engagement. It includes lecturing academic subjects in the undergraduate programme, supervising Masters level studies in events, contributing to the academic events management body of knowledge through curriculum development, mentorship and coaching of students in events management, engaging and networking with industry to form teaching and learning partnerships and platforms, managing and facilitating academic events and participating in event-related research.
Which personal traits do you need for this position?
Creativity, perseverance, kindness and understanding, the urge to learn and the ability to teach, respectfulness, patience, assertiveness and endless energy.
What advice would you offer young people who are reluctant to explore the business events industry?
The best advice I can offer was stated eloquently by Robert Kiyosaki –“When you are young, work to learn, not to earn.” Go into the industry with the right mindset.