The PCO Alliance Network is our newest associate member, so we thought a fun way for you to get to know a bit more about them and their current chair, Ellen Oosthuizen, would be with our Meet the Member Q&A.

 

Q. Please tell us about yourself in ten words or less.

A. I see myself as a positive, loyal, honest and reliable.

 

Q. Why would you say you are suited to being an event planner?

I’ve got the patience and personality, and I love what I do. Every event is different and has its challenges but if the end result is a success, then I am happy.

 

Q. You are also the chairperson of the PCO Alliance Network. How did you first get involved with this organisation? What do you most like about it, and how has it benefited you and your business?

A. I was approached by Jacqueline Stumke in 2005 to join. At that stage I thought – Why me of all the PCO’s out there? I was just doing my events and minding my own business. After having a meeting with more PCO’s she had invited, I thought well this could be a professional network of like-minded people.

What I enjoy most of belonging to the PCO Alliance is the networking, sharing of information and knowledge, and being together at meetings and industry events and having an extended family.

The industry knows and respects the PCO Alliance Network, so being a member has benefited my business and myself – there is awareness and we are often contacted for information.

I took over the reigns as chairperson from Jacqueline in 2018. I had big shoes to fill but thus far I think I’ve earned the stripes. The members call me “sarge” because I don’t take nonsense (ha ha!).

The members call me “sarge” because I don’t take nonsense (ha ha!).

 

Ellen at a PCO Alliance event

Ellen and some PCO Alliance Network members at a workshop at Riviera On Vaal Hotel & Country Club

 

Q. Let’s talk sustainability. When did your interest in it start to take off, and what caused this? Has this impacted how you run your business?

A. I heard about the EGF at the SA Events Council meetings where Justin Hawes from Scan Display represents the EGF. Before Covid this was not really something we talked about. Now that we are associated members of the EGF, we are becoming more aware of sustainability and trying to implement this in our businesses going forward.

Before Covid [sustainability] was not really something we talked about.

 

Q. Sustainability has become a mainstream topic, but isn’t yet a mainstream practice. What do you think are the biggest stumbling blocks for PCOs and event planners when it comes to being more sustainable? Do you have any ideas on how these can be overcome?

A. I think seeing it has become a mainstream topic, we as Event Planners and PCOs still have the challenges of changing the way venues think and present themselves when it comes to sustainability. We as event planners and PCOs need to help the EGF to get the word out there and act where we see venues are not sustainable. To overcome this, we need to be more aware and proactive.

We need to be more aware and proactive.

 

Q. You were also the past chairperson of the SA Events Council, during part of the Covid-19 lockdown period. This must have been incredibly stressful, as it was a time when sustainability meant something quite different. What lessons did you learn from this experience?

A. Wow! Yes, I was chairperson for 6 months. At that time, we rotated the Chairperson position. It was such a privilege to be the Chairperson of the SAEC for the short time. In that time the PCO Alliance under my guidance hosted the Proof of Concept, some members of the SAEC had to present in Soweto and we talked about the health and safety issues and our associations. It was stressful because we are represented by 14 associations, and I just felt that some of the members were so qualified that I am the “kid in the corner” but we worked so well together and networked. The SAEC team also became family, we can call on each other for information or assistance whenever. My lesson I learned was that we are all equal and we had one objective and that was to reopen the industry.

 

PCO Alliance members at Houghton Hotel

The PCO Alliance Network on a site visit at Houghton Hotel.

 

Q. What are you hoping will be the outcome of the new EGF and PCO Alliance Network partnership?

A. I really hope that once we grow our relationship with the EGF, that the PCO Alliance would become more sustainable and can assist with training the venues, suppliers and service providers on being more aware with regard to being sustainable.

 

To find our more about the PCO Alliance Network, check out their website www.pcoalliance.co.za or visit their social media profiles on Facebook and Instagram. You can also find Ellen on LinkedIn.