Top advice from arts recruiter Patricia Powell-Hughes

How to achieve career goals



What does a recruiting firm look for in the Australian music industry?

We wanted to find out, so we asked Patricia Powell-Hughes about her experiences working with clients ranging from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to the ABC.

Patricia is the Founder and Managing Director of EP Australia, and over the past 18 years she’s helped leading music, theatre, and other entertainment organisations hunt out talent that’s right for the job. The careers specialist, who is also an advocate for gender equality, will share her knowledge at the Jaxsta/Women in Music Sydney event Your Road to Success.

Moderated by Jacqui Louez Schoorl, Patricia will offer her guidance on goal setting, work/life balance, and how to reach global success – all for those working in the music industry. Here’s a taste of what she can teach us.

Patricia, tell us about yourself. You founded a media and entertainment recruiting agency 18 years ago – how did you have the courage to go out on your own and start this business?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs; people who are excited by opportunity and who are prepared to take a risk and see where it might take them. I started the business with my mum. We started it from scratch and had to teach ourselves everything about the business. We had $5000 and a fax machine, no experience, plenty of contacts and a very strong work ethic.

Who are some of the music clients you’ve worked with over the years?

Well, over 18 years there’s been a few. [Some of these include the] Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, ABC, Opera Australia, Mushroom, Sony/BMG, Pinchgut Opera, Shock Records, Trackdown Studios, Warner Music…

Your talk with Women in Music Sydney will focus on defining and achieving goals. What is the first step in figuring out which goal is the right one?

Doing what you love has to be the first thing. But think about it laterally. When I set out to open my business, I didn’t set out to become a successful recruiter. What I wanted was to work in the entertainment industry. I wanted to use my amazing little black book of contacts, I wanted to help people, I wanted to work at Fox Studios, I wanted a family business. And that’s what I built.

What have you found to be some of the most successful ways of planning and achieving career goals in the music industry?

I talk to people. I mean I really talk to them. I mingle, I network, I say ‘yes’, I help others, I go to events and functions, I meet new people. This is how I gain knowledge and experiences.

How can we ensure we stick to our goals – without life getting in the way? And when is it ok to sit back and focus on some healthy downtime?

Your goals should include healthy downtime! I swim in the ocean most days, not because I am a health fanatic (so not – mostly I lull around in the water!). I do it because it makes me happy. And when I am happy, I can do just about anything!

Patricia enjoying the challenge of ‘time off’

What is the most important piece of advice you would give to those starting out in the Australian music industry – be it performance, administration, production?

Australia is still such a small place. I tell my kids, ‘just do it’ (sorry Nike). Just get up and do it. There’s no one stopping you, you can be whatever you want, if you get up and do it!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Don’t burn bridges.


Learn more from Patricia this March 29 at Harpoon Harry’s as part of the Women in Music Sydney program.

Images supplied. Featured image Flazingo Photos via Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

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