Tracey Russell: “Not being one for long meetings, I prefer to have a team leader heading up each portfolio, turning the task into bite-sized chunks.”
And that little nugget of info is probably the secret to Tracey’s phenomenal ability to get an enormous number of tasks done seamlessly without fuss.
This little powerhouse with her buoyant halo of dark hair buzzes around town and is everywhere. Always steady, always calm and never seen flustered, no matter the drama of the moment.
“At the start of 2008, the year in which Uplands Prep celebrated its 80th anniversary, I was invited to join the PTA and take over as chairperson and that’s where the journey began for me” she says. Tracey credits Jetje Japhet and Austin Clarke as the conceptual brains behind the Uplands Festival – they brought Johnny Clegg to Uplands in 2003 and fittingly, as the 2016 Festival will be Austin Clarke’s last at Uplands, Johnny returns to rock the Lowveld.
Taking over a successful annual event in 2010 from its ‘mother’, Jetje, wasn’t easy and Tracey has enjoyed tweaking the formula until now. But this year, she and her team are turning the Festival on its head, into a merry event no one should miss. No more ‘same old, same old’ from her!
Tracey believes that relationships are very important and should be nurtured because the co-ordination of the festival relies so much on relationships. “It’s old-fashioned but I try to treat people the way I would like to be treated,” she comments.
How does she feel on the day after it’s all over? Well, for her the Uplands Festival is similar to a wedding without the honeymoon! A great cloud of anti-climax hangs over her head while she ties up the admin loose ends for several weeks afterwards. Like most of us, Tracey likes the party rather than the tidying up!
The Uplands Festival has drawn about 12,000 people through the gates a year for the last three years and Tracey’s vision for the Festival is to garner greater involvement by and for the benefit of the broader community. It’s a tough task but she’s well able for it, and the continued growth of the event is a sturdy platform upon which to develop the future.
As for the woman behind the role, after 25 years of software development for a corporate ICT company, Tracey took a gap year which she continues to extend! She bakes and cooks Banting products as a hobby but her passion lies with lead generation websites for small businesses selling physical items. “I drive my family crazy with my need to recycle – just about nothing gets tossed just in case it can be used by someone somewhere!”
Her husband, Richard, has two lines of business – the Bushman Offroad Trailers and Hi-Tech Fertigation which specialises in water treatment and chemical dosing and the kids (Amy and Bryce) are very happily schooled at Uplands. In their spare time (can you credit she has any?!) they enjoy camping in the Kruger and fly-fishing in Dullstroom.