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How to decide whether to say Yes or No to a career opportunity

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I remember one occasion when, as a board member, I arrived for a performance of the signature annual event. The lack of ‘foyer buzz’ prompted me to check my ticket to see whether it was the right date and time.

The concert hall was about 30% capacity (budget was 67% per concert) so I texted the treasurer to see what the occupancy percentage was the previous night. ‘~25’ and it was ‘papered’ (freebies given out).

As the lights went down, I calculated that after three years of earning $25,000 towards a $100,000 reserve, it was gone. We had changed our business model, made a $30,000 loss instead of the budgeted $20,000 profit and lost our reserve in 24 hours! It's difficult to enjoy a concert when you've just blown three years of prudential financial governance. 

The following table could have heightened our risk assessment:


We were in the ‘classical music’ category (7.3% of industry value add) in a competitive sector. Our new general manager assured us that the new two-performance model was necessary to 'stay in the top league with our peers'. Our peers, of course, were competitors for discretionary leisure spend.

In a review of festivals - ‘Cancellations, postponements, financial collapses and declining ticket sales are plaguing Australia’s many music festivals’ (The Sun Herald, Oct 20, 2013) Chris Johnston recounted the story about the last Sunbury Rock Festival in 1975 where the roadies of bands Deep Purple and AC/DC argued backstage about which group was the true headliner. AC/CD packed up and left before lights-up. 

Just as well it was intended to be the last festival – losing credibility is a key risk factor. Johnston cited poor management as a critical risk factor in the live performance sector. Just because you are in a category which is successful, doesn't mean you will be. 


An issue to consider:

The value of your time

At some point in your career, you will be asked to help support a one-off event run by a NFP or Charity. You need to assess whether the extra work, touted as a 'career profile' opportunity will be a successful experience for you and the organisation.

Two questions to ask:

Company chairman, Ian Stanwell AM, offered budding directors two questions to guide their decisions:

1. Do I feel the organisation wants me to add value?

2. Do I feel I can add value?

If you answer one 'Yes', one 'No' - put a time limit on your involvement. If you answer two 'No's, find a NFP/Charity which will value your skills, knowledge and experience.

This blog is for an education purpose only.

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