FIVE MINUTES WITH ... RALPH

(@flemingtonvrc

10 September 2020


Executive General Manager of Customer Engagement, Caroline Ralphsmith wearing a pink and purple floral dress outside a Flemington Racecourse building.

As Executive General Manager of Customer Engagement, Caroline Ralphsmith (affectionately known as Ralph) oversees the majority of customer related parts of the Club. Placing her famous high heels to one side while working from home, she tells us why she enjoys her role in good times and bad.

My role at the VRC is … Executive General Manager Customer Engagement.

I am responsible for … overseeing most of the customer facing parts of our business. This includes membership, marketing, communications, events and entertainment, digital, food and beverage and our research & analytics.

The most rewarding part of my job is ... to be working with a truly wonderful and dedicated team to create wonderful experiences and events for all our race goers … and then see them delight in them.

A challenging part of my job is ... continually striving to be world class in everything we do while also being financially responsible. This has been particularly difficult during the last few months as we have been building new ways for members and partners to be engaged with us when they cannot be at Flemington. 

I love the sport of racing because ... it really is like no other sport. The combination of our beautiful equine athletes, the hardworking teams that care for them, the passion so many people have for the sport and because of the social nature of our race days. It is very rewarding to be part of something that brings people together doing something that they love.

My favourite racing moment to date ... was seeing Makybe Diva win her third Melbourne Cup in 2005. Such an amazing atmosphere that day – it was truly electric.

A horse I have loved or admired is Winx ... I have been lucky enough to be up close and personal with her on a number of occasions and she is elegant, cheeky and athletic – and so gorgeous to watch.

My job was affected by the covid-19 pandemic …. in pretty much every way. Firstly, we are all working from home like so many other Victorians which has had it pluses and minuses but I think we have made it work. Secondly, because so much of my team’s effort goes into creating and providing on-course experiences for race goers we have had to think laterally about what we can do instead, given we have not been able to have crowds since Super Saturday. What that has highlighted is the sheer commitment of the VRC team to find new ways of doing things and make them happen. It has also shown us all is that so much is possible if we really focus and are all clearly working towards the same goal. I have never been more amazed by, or prouder of, our team. Finally, I have put my heels aside and have been wearing my active wear and sneakers to work most days which has been a big change for me. That said, a part of me can’t wait to have an occasion to wear heels and hats again.

We overcame the challenges of the pandemic by ... I think we are still working on that! However, what I would say is that there have been a number of things that have helped:

  • Strong teamwork and support of each other within the team. We have made sure we are asking each other more than ever if we are ok. We are all managing different challenges outside of work and knowing you have the full support of your team members goes a long way to helping us cope with this extraordinary situation
  • Not being too hard on ourselves if things aren’t perfect 
  • A sense of humour has been so important 

In my spare time I like to ... indulge my passion for fashion, whether it be to buy it or wear it. And while finding the right moments to wear it at the moment isn’t easy, browsing and picking up online bargains to plan for more celebratory times has kept me very occupied. I am excited to see how we will wear fashion as we come out of lockdown. My sense is that we may gravitate to more relaxed but high quality, luxe options at first and eventually move towards wearing more special outfits that help make us feel better when the time is right. I am particularly keen to make sure we turn to our amazing local brands and give them our support along with our fabulous Fashion partner Myer.