One of the most challenging things about being a special events coordinator is the workload. “There’s a lot of big events almost every weekend,” said Max Oudendag, special events coordinator at Mount Washington. “The biggest challenge is staying on top of things and being organized.”
The workload can sometimes be overwhelming as Max is in charge of planning and implementing almost every major special event that happens at the resort. In the summer this means community-oriented events like beer festivals or chocolate festivals. In the winter, recreation events like competitions and races.
Before joining Mount Washington as the special events coordinator, Max worked a number of jobs in which he needed strong people skills. He was a bartender and bar manager, and later he worked as a mini documentary producer and reporter for Shaw Cable. But Max attributes much of his success to his schooling at Camosun College in Victoria. He enrolled in the recreation leadership program and the applied communication program, both of which gave him the tools to succeed as an event coordinator — namely communication.
“In this job you rely on a variety of life skills that you use every day,” said Max. “You need to be a versatile person and especially a good communicator.” Up to 90% of his job is coordinating with other departments on the ski hill and communicating with businesses involved in the events. Obviously this means being a talented communicator. “Being a good and effective communicator that’s easy to get along with goes a long way in this job,” said Max.
Event coordinators have fast-paced, busy jobs heavily oriented around deadlines. But organizing events at a ski hill offers another unique challenge: the weather. Max remembers preparing for a major slope event. The course was groomed and everything was ready to go. Then it snowed 60 cm the night before the event. Max’s team had to scramble to change things around, resulting in event juggling and rescheduling. To Max, this goes with the territory. “You don’t ever really want to complain about too much snow at a ski hill,” he said.
Other challenges include finding enough volunteers to help with the events and, of course, dealing with the workload. “I have to tell myself that I can only do so much,” said Max. By not putting unfair expectations on himself, he’s able to still be successful without the added stress.
According to Max, the job offers plenty of benefits. There’s building relationships with the people you work with, the satisfaction and anticipation of preparing for an upcoming event, and the perks of working at a ski hill — lots of skiing and mountain biking. But the best part of the job is event day when you can see the result of all the organizing and planning. “Just being able to see people enjoying themselves and chatting with them at the event has been the greatest reward,” said Max.