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Jaclyn Tam, event co-ordinator of performance for The Royal Conservatory of Music
Jaclyn Tam, event co-ordinator of performance for The Royal Conservatory of Music

My Career

How the sound of music led to a job she loves Add to ...

What is your full name and title? How long have you been in this role?

My name is Jaclyn Tam. For the past year I have been the event co-ordinator of performance for The Royal Conservatory of Music.

What exactly do you do?

I co-ordinate the concerts and manage all the artist hospitality details at Koerner Hall for The Royal Conservatory of Music.

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Describe what you do on any given day.

On a typical day I’m booking hotels, flights, ground transportation and catering for the artists who perform at our venue. I’m talking to artists' managers and agents to make sure we’re on the same page about their travel schedules and other details. The day of the show I’m overseeing the sound check, making sure everything is comfortable for them backstage and organizing CD signings or meet and greets with the artists.

What’s your background and education?

I have an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts Cultural Studies from York University and a post graduate certificate in Broadcasting from Humber College.

How did you get to your position?

When I graduated from university I started in publicity and promotions for different concerts and world music artists around Toronto. I continued in marketing for a performing arts organization in Houston, Texas that presented Jazz and Classical concerts and when I came back to Toronto I decided to strike out on a more creative path.

I went back to school for Broadcasting so I could become an on-air announcer and programmer. While I was doing an internship at Jazz FM I met the Latin Jazz singer (and former host of Cafe Latino) Amanda Martinez. I started working with her as her programming assistant on the show and when she quit to work on her music career I became her tour manager and I’ve been working with her on her concerts around the world ever since.

During some down time with her, I become a flight attendant with Air Canada for two years, but it was really my work as a tour manager that really prepared me for the work I do now. It’s basically the same thing, but instead of working with one artist and multiple venues, I work at one venue with over a 100 artists every season.

What’s the best part of your job?

What I love most about my job is the music. During The Royal Conservatory’s concert season we present music from all kinds of different genres: Jazz, Classical, Folk, World Music and more. I get to work with musicians who are legends in their field and are really passionate about what they do. The team of people that I work with on all the shows are phenomenal and it makes it easy to wake up and work long hours during the concerts. I really enjoy using all the different skills that I’ve picked up along the way, from being in the travel industry to tour management to radio. I learned something valuable from every experience that I’ve had and that influences the work I do now in one way or another.

What’s the worst part of your job?

Sometimes the worst part of the job can be planning everything down to the last minute detail, and then on the night of a concert one thing can go wrong which just derails everything. That can be very frustrating.

What are your strengths in this role?

I think one of the most important intangible skills needed to do this position is having the right energy and diplomacy to deal with different personalities. From the artists to the hospitality providers, the relationships built and nurtured at this position are vital to getting the job done. Whether it’s calling in a last minute favour to get an artist picked up from a missed flight or ordering a special catering request at a late hour, or dealing with customs agents at the border, it’s these strong relationships that make the impossible possible.

What are your weaknesses?

I’m really impatient and I get bored quickly. So having a position that constantly has new stimulation and challenges is really important.

What has been your best career move?

Networking and keeping in touch with people who I’ve worked with (even if it was just one meeting or one event) has been the most important tool in getting to where I am now. All the people who I’ve met along the way and relationships that I built in the last 10 years have led me to where I am today.

What has been your worst career move?

I’ve been good at following my gut with any decisions that I’ve made regarding my career so even really crappy jobs that paid no money, I learned something from for the next gig (such as negotiating better for salary or benefits up front before you sign anything).

What’s your next big job goal?

Doing what I do now, but at a larger venue like Massey Hall, or Molson Amphitheatre or the Air Canada Centre. Eventually my dream would be to create an annual music festival that combines incredible live music with delicious local food like Taste of Chicago or something like that.

What’s your best advice to others who might want to follow in your footsteps?

Your job is what you make it, so even if you’re interning somewhere and you’re not given a lot of responsibility, be inquisitive and use the time to get to know the people who do have the positions that you want. If you want to be interesting, be interested! Figure out what you’re passionate about and follow that energy. Not every job you take is going to be the one you want now, but it’s a marathon not a race. Keep in touch with people and don’t be afraid to reach out to people you admire and ask them how they got to where they are. The more people you meet, the bigger your network will be and inevitably you’ll hear about more opportunities that way.

Do you know an executive or leader who has an interesting career story for My Career or My Career Abroad? E-mail mycareer@globeandmail.com

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