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Covid pauses Events for two years? No problem for prolific ICMS Event Specialist

Covid pauses Events for two years? No problem for prolific ICMS Event Specialist

September 1, 2022

When the global Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to concerts, festivals, sports, conferences and other events of any size in Australia and around the world, ICMS Master of Event Management lecturer William O’Toole used this down time as an opportunity to dig even deeper into his field of expertise.

The pandemic has even served to inform part of his research, in evidence in the chapters he has contributed and books he has updated over the Covid-19 period. His analysis and conclusions will help event management students and professionals understand the lessons learnt over a period of global disruption, and what event management practitioners can use going forward.

“Over the past two Covid years I was using the time productively. At last, I didn’t have to travel!” O’Toole said, referring to the international border restrictions that were part of Covid containment regulations.

“It was a time of thinking, researching and writing.”

In addition to being a postgraduate lecturer at the International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS), O’Toole is the author of Festival and Special Events Management (1999); Event Project Management (2001); Events Feasibility; From Strategy to Operations (2010); and Crowd Management: Security, Risk and Health (2019). He is also the Principal of Event Project Management System, Pty. Ltd, and an inductee of The International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA) Hall of Fame.

Prolific Covid Period for O’Toole

Over the Covid period, O’Toole contributed to the following bodies of work:

* He provided 300 definitions for the first International Dictionary of Event Management (2021);

* He contributed Chapter 2 of Crisis Management and Recovery for Events (2021), called Crisis: The Juncture of Stability and Development. The chapter examines the development model of events, the patterns which emerge over time, and how a crisis and disruptive event, such as Covid, is a factor in powering the pattern of development.

* He rewrote and updated two international textbooks in event management: Risk Management for Events (2021) and Events Feasibility and Development: From Strategy to Operations (2021). For the former, updates include new content on emergent risk and public health, which includes the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as updated statistics and data, case studies and examples. In the case of the latter, best practice in event development and the global events sector is outlined. Brand new material includes a full explanation of the maturity model, including post-pandemic solutions.

O’Toole continued lecturing ICMS Master of Event Management course online, with students scattered all over the world as well as in Australia, but unable to attend lectures on campus. ICMS is located in Northern Beaches, Sydney, NSW, and in the city of Sydney, but there were periods where even state borders were closed or gatherings, which includes educational lectures, were not permitted.

An opportunity for reflection

The two year Covid-imposed pause also gave councils, governments and venues time to reconsider their events, O’Toole said.

“As the events didn’t occur during the two years, then ‘Do we really need events and festivals? Can we use this break as an opportunity to restructure and become more agile, efficient and relevant?’ were their questions,” O’Toole observed.

O’Toole writes about this very phenomena in his chapter Crisis: The Juncture of Stability and Development: “The crisis may allow the more agile and creative events and event teams an inflexion point to move the sector into an innovative phase with wide diversity of unique events. In this phase the risk management is also used as the management of opportunities.”

As proof of this statement, O’Toole has just finished an assessment of events for Woollahra Council, and is also assessing the risk of large events in the United Arab Emirates.

Other consultant work, pending approval, consists of:

* Trade, conferences and exhibition events around Australia for the European Union;

* Assessing the Ramadan Nights events in Lakemba;

* Setting up a Government Events Department for a major Middle Eastern country; and

* Developing a NSW manual using OHS standards for a public events in Australia.

New perspective on risk and uncertainty

“My research (and work) has always been in uncertainty, probability (Bayesian) and risk (long tail). With the right frame of mind you can add these three together to get opportunity,” O’Toole said.

Turning a Covid imposed standstill on the industry in which he is an expert into an opportunity for reflection and productivity is one of the reasons why O’Toole remains a global event management specialist and a valued and highly regarded member of the ICMS academic faculty.

For more information on the ICMS Master of Event Management, click here.


O’Toole, W. (2021) “Chapter 2 Crisis The Juncture of Stability and Development (William O’Toole)” In: Ziakas, V., Antchak, V. & Getz, D. (ed) .

O’Toole, W. (2021) Events Feasibility and Development: From Strategy to Operations.

Rutherford Silvers, J & O’Toole, W. (2021) Risk Management for Events.





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