Tauranga Jazz Society general manager Mandy Ryan is in charge of the 2019 National Jazz Festival, taking place in Tauranga over Easter.


Amanda (Mandy) Ryan


Self-employed in marketing and publishing for 20 years. General manager of Tauranga Jazz Society.


Place of work:

From home in Waihi and the Tauranga Jazz Society office at the Historic Village.

What does your job involve?
Working with the Tauranga Jazz Society Committee to deliver jazz events to members and the wider community throughout the year. The largest event is the National Jazz Festival.

To put on an event of this size requires funding and a large part of my job is securing funding from sponsors, businesses, gaming trsts and working with funders such as TECT and TCC. I manage financial operations, prepare budgets and financial reports for the committee.

To deliver the festival requires building a festival team, engaging contractors and delegating. Within the festival there are a number of events: Marc Anderson manages the two-day Downtown Carnival — this requires working with Tauranga City Council and local businesses to deliver a safe and fun event for our city.

Liam Ryan manages the National Youth Jazz Competition which is being held separate to the festival this year, and he works with the schools involved. Tracy Stockman has also been a key person for a number of years providing administration support. I consider our contractors and volunteers all part of the festival team and everyone involved puts in a huge effort to get the festival over the line.

What is the most enjoyable part of the job?
Researching jazz performers and performances to compile a rich and varied festival programme.

What is the main thing you want to achieve professionally?
My focus is to deliver an event that delivers great outcomes for the Tauranga Jazz Society and the wider Tauranga community. The National Jazz Festival has a 57-year legacy. It has become an Easter tradition for many people throughout New Zealand and overseas and I want to see that continue.


Why did you get into this profession?
I got into the event industry initially through organising industry conferences, and then met my husband Liam Ryan and got involved 10 years ago as a volunteer at the National Jazz Festival. I love music and love supporting musicians.

Music brings communities together in a way that nothing else does, plus jazz breaks age and cultural barriers — there are so many styles of jazz. It may have started back in the 20s, but it is an art form that is continually changing. We have urban jazz, soul jazz, hip-hop jazz, Latin, Cuban, African, to name but a few. Jazz is a musical language that is still informing and exciting young musicians today.

What do you like about your job the most?
The variety of roles which means I can utilise all my life and business skills to date plus I feel I am making a contribution to my community.

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Finding funding, working within the constraints of a committee, and then making a little go a long way.

What is your proudest work moment?
There are so many, I regularly get tearful hearing the young jazz musicians perform at the National Youth Jazz Competition — they are our future. I love the feeling of seeing thousands of people Downtown enjoying jazz music with friends and family — it makes all the hard work behind the scenes worthwhile.

What is the best piece of career advice you've received?
Serve others, not yourself.

What is the most important thing your current role has taught you?
Humility, I can't do it all.

Would you recommend your career to other women?
Yes, the arts space is very egalitarian and there is a wonderfully supportive community of women working in the arts.