Backstage with our Executive Assistant

Meet Ros Atkinson

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Backstage with our Executive Assistant

Performing the music on stage is only half the job – behind the scenes there are incredible people who make a concert what it is.

Meet Executive Assistant Ros Atkinson – the organisational mastermind behind our executive team. We caught up with Ros to reflect on her nine years with the Orchestra, what she likes to bake, and her favourite concerts so far.

Tell us about your role at Queensland Symphony Orchestra? How long have you been here?

I am the Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive, Mr Craig Whitehead and the Board Chair, Mr Chris Freeman AM. This September I will have been with QSO for nine years. I started with the company when our studios were at Ferry Road, West End and coincidentally I now live on the same site in an apartment complex, aptly named Virtuoso.

How do you support the Chief Executive, Board Chair and the board in their day to day?

Supporting the Orchestra's Chief Executive, together with the Board Chair, has enabled me to combine a lifetime of learning into one dynamic role. Responsibilities include diary management and oversight of all correspondence for the Chief Executive and Chair; liaison between the CE and the board of directors; attending to all external appointments and visitors; liaising with all relevant stakeholders including corporate partners, local, state and federal government and vice-regal relationships; organising official functions and hosting VIPs at concerts and evening functions. As a member of the executive management team, I prepare all documents for executive and board meetings; compile minutes and arrange all management and CE travel. 

After nine years with the Orchestra, and as one of the longest-serving members of the administrative team, I have become, for many, the first point of contact about the how, who, why and where of the organisation. I take pride in my tact, people skills, time management, independence and ability to maintain the strictest confidentiality. 

Do you have a favourite composer? What have been a few of your favourite QSO concerts so far?

I enjoy most things that the Orchestra perform from Classical to contemporary. My favourite composer would be Tchaikovsky closely followed by Mahler. I always enjoy watching Simone Young when she conducts the Orchestra; the passion she shows and the power she brings to the Orchestra is second to none. Ray Chen is another favourite, not only did he go to school with my son, but he is just an amazing musician and such a nice young man. My favourite concert from 2019 was The New World, conducted by Alondra de la Parra featuring percussion soloist Martin Grubinger.

Do you play any instruments?

I do not play an instrument, but the arts have always played a large part of my life. As a child I learnt the organ, took singing lessons for about ten years and participated in many Eisteddfods as well as competing in Ballroom dancing competitions around Queensland. I also performed in stage plays that were performed by Gympie Musical Union.

You’re an amazing baker – where do you find baking inspiration?

I do love baking and my inspiration is simply just to make people happy. My great passion is cooking large dinner parties for friends and family. My favourite cuisine to cook is Thai - I find the food fresh, with balanced flavours of salty, sweet, sour and spicy.

What do you miss about seeing the musicians performing on stage?

I miss watching them and seeing the passion they bring to the stage. I sit and watch different musicians play and am transported to different worlds. The power of the full orchestra is something I love and something I will never take for granted. I am so lucky to work with the most talented group of people.

When you’re not at work, where can we find you?

If not at a QSO concert on the weekend, you will find me in the kitchen cooking up a feast to entertain family or friends. My husband and I love spending time with our grandson who is almost four and the love of our lives, and with four adult children, life is never dull. We also love exploring our new surroundings at West End.