Stacey Jones is the co-ordinator behind the Groundswell Festival of Innovation. After such a great response to the inaugural event last year it’s happening again this month from August 27 – Sept 2nd. There are over 45 events this year, so it has taken a fair amount of brain space and organisation to make sure it runs smoothly. Stacey is the glue that pulls together a huge team of people that sit behind the festival that make it happen – the advisory group, sponsors, volunteers, speakers and event organisers. Stacey says “It’s an incredible effort by everyone and shows the level of collaboration, drive and passion within our community.”
Stacey admits those initial months of planning to bring the festival together can be pretty challenging. The festival’s core principals are to be locally inspired, cutting edge, inclusive and cross culture. Groundswell is not meant to be just for the high tech, it’s about creating a shared identity around innovation within our community and driving our region’s reputation as a centre of excellence. That means there is a massive amount of work that goes into curating a programme that acknowledges all of those elements.
However, seeing the week come together is extremely rewarding – a real buzz for Stacey. Also seeing the positive results that continue following the event, with conversations, collaborations and connections that lead to new opportunities.
Stacey would love to see Groundswell become a national and eventually international festival. She thinks it has the potential and there is a gap. However, she admits that there is a LONG way to go before we get to that point. She’d also love to see it become a yearlong initiative, and is hoping that is how the movement will grow.
The Bay region, Stacey believes, has some strong advantages that other cities can’t compete with – the busiest port, roading, amazing climate, an innovative community, and so the list goes on. One thing that also sets ourselves apart Stacey thinks, is our collective heart. Supporting each other to get ahead works for the greater good. Instead of competing against each other, we work with one another.
Stacey’s background is in strategic marketing, but admits to being a bit of a generalist. After studying at Oxford, she spent 5 years working on the global advertising accounts for Nissan and then Sony before her New Zealand journey began. She came to the Mount for 3 months – it’s now 8 years and she has never looked back.
She’s mad about cooking and recently launched the Mount’s first pop-up restaurant this year, Kitchen Takeover with a 10 course Vietnamese banquet at Spongedrop. She’s in the midst of planning the next one, so watch this space. She also has 2 awesome kids and another one on the way.
Stacey’s drivers to success are her passion, determination and the positive effect she sees the festival having on the community. The advice she passes on to others looking to venture into new opportunities is to be brave, make decisions (even if you have to ask for forgiveness afterwards), follow your instincts, have integrity and be fun.