Auckland Live Staff Spotlight: Caroline Saunders

Auckland Live Staff Spotlight

Venue Operations Advisor

Published: Thursday 27 June 2024


Auckland Live just turned 10! As we mark a decade of bringing the city performing arts and events to create memories that last a lifetime, we will be highlighting the journeys of some of our amazing staff behind the curtain who make the magic happen.

This week we meet Caroline Saunders.

Please introduce yourself and your role. 

Kia Ora, I'm Caroline Saunders, my role is Venue Operations Advisor, and I am part of the Venue and Event Operations team based at Aotea Centre. I started here over twenty years ago and have had a number of different operational roles all of which have prepared me very well for my current role.


So what does that job entail?  

Great question. What does it not entail?

I work with and support the teams who plan and deliver events in our venues. My role also includes working with our internal stakeholders such as our amazing, shared services teams to facilitate business and process improvement initiatives. An example of this is working with the Venue Booking & Planning team, I liaise with shared services to assist the delivery of capital works and building projects alongside events, venue operations & visitor experience.  Working on the business to improve outcomes, not for the business to deliver events.  A key part of my role is Emergency Management – creating plans & documents, developing training, and supporting the team from an operational perspective. I am also involved in users groups for business systems like Momentus. 


What’s a day in the life like for a Venue Operations Advisor?

My day is often quite reactive. This can be challenging because it's hard to manage workload when you are dealing with unexpected things.  I’ll be troubleshooting different issues the team are having and helping to determine the solution.  I’m also working with other areas of the business to ensure our venues and our systems are ready for events.


What’s a typical day from start to finish? 

I log on, have a look at the emails that have come through to see if there's anything I need to action urgently. Some days are meetings-heavy, quite a few stakeholder meetings during the week. Regular meetings, either weekly or fortnightly? Or maybe monthly meetings with different groups. 


What’s a typical day from start to finish?

I log on, check my meetings for the day and have a look at the emails that have come through overnight to see if there's anything I need to action urgently.  Some days are meetings-heavy with quite a few stakeholder meetings during the week.  Other days are set aside for working on documentation, projects & processes.


What was your day yesterday?  

Wednesday started with a 9:30 meeting for Momentus with all of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, (Auckland Live’s parent company), sort of “super-users” champions of Momentus with Jose & Jules. After that I went straight into a Viaduct Events Centre project meeting, and then a power-shutdown project meeting.  Those were my project meetings.

This was followed by troubleshooting something at The Civic, accompanied by a lot of emails to send.  And then afternoon tea for a team celebration.


What's your favourite thing about you?  

Oh, favourite thing about me? That's a great question.

I suppose the things that I probably pride myself on might be a better way to put it. I like to be organised and proactive, doing this allows space for me to troubleshoot and solve problems against the unexpected.  I always like to focus on the bigger picture, who's it going to affect and what the possible outcomes and solutions might be.


What's the hardest thing about what you do?  

Managing my workload and the demand because we are quite big now and that comes with challenges as we've grown.

Probably the hardest thing is trying not to be too reactive. I’m a box ticker, very much a to-do list and tick-if-off-the-list person, but not everything needs to be responded to straight away. It’s balancing what needs to be done versus the demands on your time that's probably the hardest thing.


Do you have any highlights or special memories of your time here? 

Oh, I have lots of highlights.

I really enjoyed the training component from my previous role with the staff. I did all the induction training for the Event Services Attendants and a lot of Event Supervisor training for the staff that look after a show night. I don't really do that anymore – I do miss working with the team.  There's been plenty of event highlights, including Prince's last show and numerous musicals at The Civic.

I enjoy the high-profile events, not for the “fame” but for the input you can have in the planning, and that you can see the stuff that makes it successful. It’s not so much that it’s Prince and he's amazing; it's more that it gives us the opportunity to work together as a team and deliver a great result and memorable experience for our clients and our patrons. That's why I enjoy those kinds of events.

Shows and events Caroline is looking forward to:

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