How I Got Here: The National Gallery of Victoria’s Partnerships Account Manager on connecting with people who inspire you



“I took the time to work on my LinkedIn profile and started to connect with people I was inspired by and one day hoped to work with/for.”

Have you ever stalked someone on LinkedIn and wondered how on earth they managed to land that wildly impressive job? While the internet and social media might have us believe that our ideal job is a mere pipe dream, the individuals who have these jobs were, believe it or not, in the same position once, fantasising over someone else’s seemingly unattainable job.

But behind the awe-inspiring titles and the fancy work events lies a heck of a lot of hard work. So what lessons have been learnt and what skills have proved invaluable in getting them from daydreaming about success to actually being at the top of their industry?

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Welcome to How I Got Here, where we talk to women who are killing it in their respective fields about how they landed their awe-inspiring jobs, exploring the peaks and pits, the failures and the wins, and most importantly the knowledge, advice and practical tips they’ve gleaned along the way.

This week we speak to Kadiesha Gary, the Partnerships Account Manager at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). Kadiesha has always had a fixation on fashion, beauty and the arts, and found that going into marketing and PR allowed her to explore these fields through the lens of a variety of publications, brands and organisations.

After cutting her teeth working for an array of titles for Pacific Magazines, she landed a role as an executive in the partnerships team for PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival. It was through this role that she ended up being exposed to her dream company, and ultimately her dream job at the NGV. Here’s what she learned along the way.

What do you do and what’s your official job title? 

I work for the NGV as a Partnerships Account Manager. I’m lucky enough to work with and manage some of the NGV’s brand partnerships across our exhibitions, events and programs. 

Take us back to when you were first starting out. Did you study to get into your chosen field, or did you start out with an internship/entry-level role and climb the ladder? Tell us the story.

From a young age, I was always interested in advertising and marketing. I also loved anything and everything to do with fashion, beauty and arts but I wasn’t 100 per cent certain about what it was I wanted to do so I did a bit of research throughout my final year of high school and landed on marketing as the best ‘base’ for me. 

In 2014 I started a Bachelor of Marketing at RMIT and that first year was a struggle. It was very business-focused so I wasn’t as engaged as I had hoped, though looking back now that year really set me up with a strong commercial understanding. From the second year onwards and starting my minor in PR, I was obsessed and excited by all areas of study specifically anything to do with brands and in my third year, I was lucky enough to secure a marketing and promotions internship.

Whilst the internship wasn’t in my dream industry, it was an opportunity to work in a corporate environment and apply my skills to real campaigns. After graduating, I landed a job as an Advertising Coordinator with Pacific Magazines and had the chance to work on some glamourous titles such as Marie Claire and InStyle, and of course, some un-glamorous titles such as Better Homes & Gardens and New Idea.


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This being the first step in my career was overwhelming as at times I really didn’t know if this is what I truly wanted to do – I had always imagined something more in the marketing world rather than traditional advertising… reflecting on the role now, it helped me in my understanding of client-facing work. 

After almost a year at Pacific Magazines, an exciting opportunity came up at Melbourne Fashion Festival (now PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival) to join their partnerships team as an executive. As a long-time fangirl of the Festival, I was so thrilled. I was there for three years and being in a small team, I had the chance to work across many departments which allowed me to develop my skills and connect with brands that play in the partnerships space, specifically, consumer experiences. 

What ended up being my last Festival was held at the NGV during its 2020 Triennial exhibition and I fell head over heels in love. So, with its dreamy partnerships and incredible programs, the NGV made its way to the top of my career goal list and when my now role was advertised, I jumped at the opportunity to apply and gratefully landed my absolute dream job last year. 

What challenges/hurdles have you faced getting to where you are now? Can you tell us about one in particular?

My biggest challenge so far was securing my first full-time job. It was difficult and overwhelming searching and applying for entry-level roles when most listings and position descriptions stipulated ‘one to two years experience in relevant industry’. As I’ve said, anything in the fashion, beauty or arts was my dream and [they] all really are as competitive as they say. 

To get over this hurdle, I did some of the most basic but effective things I could. I invested time in designing and building out my resume to ensure it was presented as well as possible upon a recruiting manager’s ‘first glance’. I took the time to work on my LinkedIn profile and started to connect with people I was inspired by and one day hoped to work with/for. 

Of course, most of the time it does come down to timing and what’s advertised when you first start looking for a full-time role, though ensuring you’ve built a resume and a profile you’re proud of and [have] connected with people who one day may reach out with an offer goes a long way.  


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What do you want people to know about your industry/your role?

It is fast-paced and exciting and no day or partnership is ever the same. You’re working with different brands, and different teams, all of which have varied priorities and desired outcomes so you really do have to work and approach each uniquely. 

What’s the best part about your role?

So many things!! The first that comes to mind though is the brilliant NGV team I get to work with. I’m constantly blown away by the talented people and minds, and the new things I learn each day because of them. 

A very close second though is the brands I get to work with across our partnerships. A partnership really does become a collaborative effort and I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to work with some world-renowned brands from Mecca to Tiffany & Co to Vogue. 

What would surprise people about your role?

It’s not long lunches every day, and it’s not all sales and pitching. I think people would be surprised to know how much strategic development and creativity are involved in working on brand partnerships especially when the activity is across digital content, events and consumer experiences. 

What skills have served you well in your industry?

Keeping up to date with what is happening in my industry but also relevant industries is something that has served me very well. I’d say this comes back to my mum telling me again and again (and again!) from a young age that reading anything and everything is the best thing you can do in life and I’ve applied that same advice to my career. 

It helps with proposal development, brainstorming sessions, networking and day-to-day conversations, all of which you need in any partnerships role. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a role like yours one day?

Explore all opportunities across marketing, PR and events. Even if it doesn’t sound like it will connect with a partnerships focused role – believe me, almost everything does. 

I’d also say place just as much importance on people and connection. Over time you could be working with different brands and teams over many years and depending on the partnership a strong relationship is critical. 

What about a practical tip?

Spreadsheets are your BFF in partnerships. A partnership can be live for five-plus years and having a master project doc will never not be needed! 


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