Women in Print: Jacobena Mills

For Jacobena Mills, national events manager, Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA) the introduction to the print industry coincided with a crash course on politics.
 
Born in Wellington, and previously living in London, Mills' first event for the association was Print2Parliament, the most prestigious of the year, and a first for the industry.
 
In her words, “I am from New Zealand, have lived in London, and was not familiar with the political system or government of Australia. It was the craziest thing I could have done, a crash course on politics combined with event planning on steroids, it does not get any more official than Parliament.
 
“There are the procedural things like security checks, and what’s involved to walk into Parliament, then the challenge of dealing with MPs and Senators, making sure our members were across what happens for the event.
 
“It was a lot of pressure, but I am happy with the result.”
 
By all measures the event was a success, well attended by industry and politicians, with multiple politicians attending, including Wayne Swan MP, who gave an address, Senator Pauline Hanson, Tony Burke MP, Senator Eric Abetz, Senator David Leyonhjelm and Michael Sukkar MP, who also presented on the night.
 
Mills has prior experience in events planning, working with her grandmother’s company in organising the Wellington House and Home exhibition throughout University.
 
She explains, “Exhibition planning and sales is where I had started, and I am now picking that up again.”
 
Beyond event planning, Mills has multiple talents, and prior to working with the PIAA was living in London working for Sony Music as an artist developer.
 
A singer/songwriter who can play the guitar and is learning piano, Mills says the job involved writing songs for artists on the label, on their brand style under a package the label would put together for them.
 
Mills says, “I do not know how I am able to songwrite but somehow I can do it without thinking. I wrote for a few of their artists: Little Mix, The Vamps, Jessie J, Fleur East, but the songs do not often get released. 
 
“They cut a demo, and take it as their own, and you get paid for it.”
 
Coming from music to print, Mills says she grew a deeper appreciation for the process of print, the diversity of the industry, and the amount of work it takes to get from A to B with the products.
 
Geeking out, she shares, “I am a bit of a nerd for stationery and nice finishing. The more I got involved in print, the more it enticed me.
 
“Learning all the terms, and the techniques, and the way they are all applied amazed me. You do not realise how much work goes into something, and how many people it takes behind the scenes to get things functioning.
 
“There are so many moving parts to the printed piece that comes in front of you.”
 
As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Mills says there are some unique challenges. 
She explains, “The print industry itself goes back a very long time, and a lot of it has been run by men. A lot of that still carries through till today. 
 
“With any job or industry dominated by men, it is about being taken seriously, having your ideas heard, being seen and respected as an equal.
 
“I am lucky to have the opportunity to be in a place where my ideas are respected and heard, and we can work together to push the print industry forward.
 
“The print industry is extremely collaborative, which is similar to my work in the music industry.
 
“As a woman, for me the challenge is getting into the mind of a man or our members and finding out what they want, identifying the needs of a different demographic. 
 
“I am immersing myself in the print industry, and our members, finding out what they like, what they want, and turning that back into something they would benefit from."

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