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The graduate hitting all the right notes

26 June 2018
State Opera of South Australia’s new leadership appointment a sound choice
What does it take to help grow the Arts in Australia while raising a family? Yarmila Alfonzetti explains how studying a postgraduate project management degree at the University of Sydney built her extensive industry experience to a crescendo of success.
Yarmila Alfonzetti


Becoming the most exciting and innovative opera company in Australia is the core aspiration of State Opera of South Australia — the flagship arts organisation of the aptly nicknamed “festival state”.

The individual tasked with overseeing the direction and delivery of that exciting vision is Master of Project Management graduate Yarmila Alfonzetti, who was appointed Executive Director of the organisation earlier this year.

The executive position is the latest career highlight for the self-confessed classical music lover, who previously held such roles as Chief Executive Officer at Sydney Youth Orchestras, and Head of Classical Music at the Sydney Opera House.

“Pursuing a career in classical music is the only thing I have ever wanted to do or be involved in,” reveals Yarmila, who originally graduated with a Bachelor of Music from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 1995.

“I am passionate about Australian arts companies being the very best and robust businesses that they can be. I also like fixing things, and some of our most precious companies are actually slightly broken and struggling. I want to be the cavalry.”

Riding into action, Yarmila decided to compliment her industry experience with the core skills needed to understand and manage complex projects, the skills that would allow her to effect positive change within the arts industry.

Yarmila found that the University of Sydney’s Master of Project Management would give her those skills as well as the flexibility to study with her personal commitments.

“There was a large online component during my time studying the project management degree which was very appealing, as it allowed me to study whilst continuing to work and raise three young children,” explains Yarmila, who completed her postgraduate studies in 2005.

“The Master of Project Management exposed me to new and amazing concepts, and I really loved being challenged to think in new ways when approaching projects that involved multiple moving parts, stages and phases.

“Running events is such a small component of what project management actually is; the specialisation really comes into its own when there are concurrent complex activities that have various outcomes.”

Yarmila now approaches any project, especially those with an intended life-cycle of more than one year, by deconstructing each down into its different phases. She has sound systems in place to address issues relating to budget forecasts, scheduling and timetables, human resources, communications plans, as well as the scope and risk of the task at hand.

“My Masters of Project Management degree has been helpful throughout my career, and no doubt will help me effect positive change and growth in my new role as Executive Director at State Opera of South Australia,” says Yarmila.

“The role is a multifaceted and difficult one as I am leading the business. But I am ready to inspire all of my stakeholders to come with me on a journey towards excellence.”

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