Julie Hawkins: Event Planner and Troubleshooter
Imagine that you’re hosting a breakfast event for more than 50 people, and you’ve shown up to the venue to discover that the power is out.
For Julie Hawkins, this wasn’t a hypothetical situation — it’s one of the many on-the-job challenges she’s faced.
“I was in Rome, Ga., to host a breakfast event promoting Campaign Georgia Tech,” said Hawkins, who is stewardship event coordinator for the Office of Development. “When I arrived at the venue the morning of the event, I discovered that a drunk driver had hit a power pole nearby, which took out the electricity. Initially, I had a moment of panic.”
Then her focus shifted to creating a quality event, in light of the situation. For example, since there were no refreshments, she asked others to pick up coffee and breakfast food from Starbuck’s and area grocery stores. Thanks to good weather, she was able to move the event from inside the venue to an outside area, which the guests enjoyed more than being in the original space.
“About 75 percent of my job is troubleshooting and solving problems before anyone discovers them,” Hawkins said. “This actually ended up being one of the best campaign events so far.”
Recently, The Whistle had a chance learn more about Hawkins and her time at Tech.
Did you always want to work in event planning?
I guess it was destiny, given I was basically the social chair of my preschool class. But no, I didn’t expect to end up in this field. In college, I wanted to go into broadcast journalism, which led to an internship working in the promotions department at a radio station. After college, I worked as a marketing assistant at a concert venue and had an opportunity to organize a fundraising event for a musical group. I loved being able to put my organizational skills to good use.
How did you arrive in your current position?
Since the job at the concert venue was seasonal, I accepted a temp position at Tech as an administrative assistant in the provost’s office about six years ago. My supervisors knew that I was interested in event planning, so I was given opportunities to work on these projects. Eventually, my current position opened up, and here I am.
What is an average day in your job like?
While the campaign is on, I have two types of days: office and on-the-road. When I’m in the office, I spend time on tasks such as prepping schedules and materials, gathering RSVPs and putting together presentation materials for people who will be attending the events, including Dr. Peterson and John Brock, alumnus, campaign chair and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. When I’m on the road, I’m usually doing things such as troubleshooting with the venue.
What are three things that you always take with you when traveling to events?
I have a big blue case that contains everything I need for a mini office — including Sharpies and tape, which can fix almost anything. I also take a first aid kit and pictures of my dogs.
Where was your favorite campaign event location?
I really enjoyed San Juan, Puerto Rico, where we hosted a dinner for 150 people. I was surprised at how many people in that area had a connection to Tech.
How will your job evolve as the campaign winds down?
I will travel less and my focus will shift to planning more on-campus events for donors.
Where is your favorite place to have lunch?
I like to go to Ms. Ruthie’s Deli in the Student Center and get a veggie wrap. With all of the traveling and eating out I do, it’s nice to be able to get something to eat that is familiar and always tastes the same.
If you were stranded on an island, what is the one book you would want with you?
“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte. This is my go-to book whenever I need an old favorite to read.
Tell us something about yourself that others might not know.
I love to run half marathons. Also, my family is a “Tech family.” My dad, Pete Dawkins, has worked at Tech since the 1970s, and my mom, Sherry Dawkins, worked here for about 20 years — they met on campus. So, my sister and I basically grew up at Tech.