Working in the entertainment industry means no two days are the same for Erika Amoore, 29, the founder and director of Synthony – an event that brings together nostalgic dance music from the last 30 years with a classical orchestra.
Can you explain your career path to date?
I did a commerce degree, became a chartered accountant and began my career at a Big 4 Firm, then moved through various commercial finance roles, with my most recent role being a finance manager for a software company. The other path was music-driven, I was classically trained in piano and violin and as I got older, I turned that passion for music to DJing and was lucky enough to get a host of residencies and paid gigs. I produced my own music, had a weekly radio show on George FM and travelled through Europe playing gigs.
What led you to be doing what you are doing today?
Synthony came about when myself and co-founder, David Elmsly, saw a YouTube clip of a similar event run in the United Kingdom and we wanted to see it in New Zealand. We decided with David’s experience in events (he founded The New Zealand Beer Festival in 2007) and my experience in the music industry and commercial business acumen we were perfectly placed to bring the event to life. We ran the first Synthony show in Auckland in 2017 to a sellout audience and were blown away by the feedback on the event. Then 2018 saw 2 shows sell out in a matter of hours.
At this point, David and I still had full-time jobs and were working evenings and weekends to make the show a reality. We knew Synthony had potential that was bigger than what we were both committing at that time. David had also decided he wanted to exit the business and we both believed the right thing to do was find investors that would allow Synthony to grow. We began speaking to Duco, who is responsible for many successful large scale events as we knew Duco would have the know-how required to scale Synthony and they invested heavily at the end of 2018. I quit my job at the software company and as they say, the rest is history.
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What do you love most about your job?
I truly believe in our product. Synthony is incredibly captivating, magical, unique and brings people joy; creating something that positively impacts others is super rewarding.
What is your biggest accomplishment at work or a moment you’re most proud of?
During our last show in 2018, I sat in the audience for the first time to watch the opening of Synthony. Words cannot describe the pride I felt seeing our musicians on stage, hearing Ria Hall belt out the first number (Robin S – ‘Show Me Love’) and the crowd’s energy, happiness and amazement.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome, as it relates to your career or industry?
For me, the biggest obstacles have been internal. Fear of failure is a powerful one and there have been more than a few sleepless nights wondering if anyone was going to buy a ticket to the show, particularly in the first year prior to going on sale and even now as we enter new countries and regions.
What motivates you?
The fact that life is short.
What do you believe has been the key to your success?
Actually taking action. I love the saying “do something and something will happen,” it’s overly simplistic but true. A lot of people have ideas, but few actually act on them. My success has been down to continually pushing forward in the direction I wanted to go in, despite getting ‘no’s’ along the way.
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What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
That your degree or your first job (or the first five for that matter) doesn’t determine where you will end up. Opportunities outside the realm of your consideration will present themselves at various stages, say yes to everything that intrigues you and don’t be concerned about taking a non-linear path.
What is your life motto?
Everyone dies but not everyone lives.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
You become a combination of the five people you spend the most time with – choose wisely.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing women in the workplace?
While we have made massive strides there is still a lack of women in leadership and exec level positions in many businesses. For women looking to make their way up the ladder, it can be difficult to find a female role model or mentor and this means we are learning how to lead from men. There are some obvious (and generalised) differences in the ways that men and women lead, organise and communicate at work, and without environments that foster these differences and encourage women to be true to these traits, they can be suppressed or lost.
How do you find the ideal work and life balance?
For me, it helps that my hobbies and work are so closely aligned, which means I’ve often been able to combine work with leisure (for example, travelling for DJ gigs), and when you love what you do long hours don’t seem so taxing. Rather than think about work/life balance on a daily basis, I tend to think of it on a cyclical or annual basis and I will have periods of months where I work really hard but then back it up with long travel periods.
In another life what would you want to do for a job?
I would love to be a chef! I love food and there’s something incredibly fulling about preparing a meal for others.
What are your top three tips for landing a job in your industry?
- Find your ‘in’ and be known – do you know a DJ, promoter, agent, anyone in the industry? Our industry is small (as most are in New Zealand) – so get out to events with them and meet everyone.
- Be willing to do any job to get your foot in the door – this isn’t an industry that has nicely categorized job descriptions, be prepared to do tasks outside the norm. It’s standard in the industry to hire from within, so most people will start at the bottom.
- Make sure you communicate your love for the product. Our industry is fun, we put on parties for a living. Make sure you come across as someone who would not only do a great job working at those parties but also someone who would love them as a guest. We know that people who love the product will add value.
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How do you relax away from work?
I love getting out into nature and I am lucky to have an amazing group of friends and together we are ticking off New Zealand’s Great Walks. There’s nothing that gives me more relaxation and perspective than spending days in the bush with no technology or excessive material possessions.
When do you go to bed and when do you get up? What’s your typical morning routine?
I typically go to bed around 10pm and then I am up by 5.30am. I will meditate (I practice transcendental meditation), go to the gym or walk my dog. There is always good coffee in there, maybe two. I then write down what success looks like that day (what I need to achieve). I try to avoid looking at emails before I have thought about this, as emails scream for attention though they are rarely the most important task to be dealt with.
When did you last act fearlessly?
Never – I am constantly terrified by what I do on a daily basis. I have to remind myself that if I’m not terrified, I’m not thinking big enough. I feel the fear and do it anyway.
What are your favourite traits you are drawn to at work or when hiring?
I was once told in small businesses or teams I should hire someone I would like to have a wine with and it’s something that’s served me well across multiple roles because when you work with only a handful of people you end up spending a lot of time with one another. You can always teach a bright person a task but it’s much more difficult to teach them to be kind, funny and passionate.
You have already achieved so much, but what’s next for you?
A huge amount of what I’m loving about life at the moment is I don’t know what’s next, but the possibilities are endless. At this point in time I’m giving Synthony 100% of my attention to ensure it reaches its full potential.
Tickets to Synthony are available via Synthony.com – this year, there are shows in Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Wellington and Brisbane so don’t miss out!