Toitoi's Megan Peacock-Coyle has won a national event industry leadership award, in recognition of her efforts leading Toitoi and its staff through Covid-19 and its ongoing effects this year.
The Entertainment Venues Association New Zealand (EVANZ) judging panel named the Hawke's Bay Arts & Events Centre kaiwhakahaere/manager VMA Leader of the Year.
Peacock-Coyle said she wasn't expecting the honour, and was proud just to be nominated alongside some of the industry's heavy hitters.
Other finalists in the Leader of the Year category included Sean Murray, from H3 (Claudelands, FMG Stadium Waikato and Seddon Park) and Mark Gosling from The Trusts Arena in Auckland.
She said it was good recognition for the city of Hastings as they try to become leaders in the events world.
"We want our venue to be noticed around New Zealand."
She said Covid made for a tough year for her team at Toitoi, forcing her to stop and assess how she led them.
"How do we manoeuvre through this, and how do we make sure we take our staff on a positive journey."
She said it was "soul-destroying" to have worked for a year to get Toitoi open after renovations, to then have to shut again three weeks later, so empathy and understanding with staff were key.
Peacock-Coyle said she has a list of leadership attributes she is constantly going back to, including being authentic and available to everyone.
"Admitting when you might have made a mistake and saying sorry, just because you're the leader or the boss doesn't mean you're always right."
She said another key was giving staff autonomy, which became especially important during Covid.
"Giving them freedom, delegating, but making sure that delegation is directed, so they know exactly what the expectations are."
The other key attributes for her are making sure to genuinely celebrate successes, and having a sense of humour.
EVANZ is the peak body representing the venue industry in New Zealand with a membership of 120 venues nationally. This includes theatres, event centres, outdoor stadia and convention centres.