St. Pete College + University of Tampa - A.A. in Mass Communications
If Shari Weber would have won the Mega Millions last week she would have still shown up for her job on Tuesday. (Monday's are her day off.) She loves her job so much that she says she can't imagine doing anything else. Shari is Celine Dion's production and travel logistics coordinator. She's been in the role since 1998, and although she's worked with other bands and performers — including Coldplay, Conan O'Brien, Nick Jonas and Blink 182 — Celine is her longest client to date.
Shari loves Celine's infectious energy and has worked on her Las Vegas show since February 2011. She loves the global journey her job takes her on, as well as the new chapters that begin in her life daily. And, oh, she'll tell you those frequent flier miles aren't a bad perk either!
Being attentive makes you a 'need anticipator' and in this business, it's a must.
What inspired you to pursue a career in production?
Originally, I pursued a career in film/TV location management and while working on a student film I got my start in concert production. A friend of mine managed a small outdoor concert venue in downtown St. Petersburg and he allowed our student film to shoot there for free. In exchange, I had to work a show for him. He asked me to simply set up the band's dressing room with their catering rider, pick them up from the airport, take them to the hotel and run any errands they asked of me.
That band was the Counting Crows.
At that show, I met the concert promoter putting on the show and he asked me to work another show, and then another, and the rest is history!
Fast forward five years and about 180 shows in Tampa Bay as a "runner/production assistant" and I landed my very first tour! During those years I met hundreds of "roadies" and band personal assistants and tour managers; all I wanted to do was go on tour, travel from city to city on a tour bus and see the world. Persistence finally paid off. Just 15 years later I have traveled the world 15 times over with various musicians including Celine Dion, Coldplay, Blink 182, Nick Jonas, Creed, Korn, Conan O'Brien and a few more!
How did you find your current job?
In 1997, I was the wardrobe assistant/runner for Celine Dion when she toured through Tampa. I gave my résumé to her production manager. He kept it on file and a year later I was on tour with them. My first tour with her lasted almost two years, and after that I continued to tour with other artists but kept in touch with her team ... and now I'm back with her again!
What do your day-to-day responsibilities include?
This varies from artist to artist, but for Celine, I'm the production coordinator for her show here at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. I manage all travel logistics for the band and crew. I also manage the production office, am the purchaser of items for all departments on the show and manage some of the accounting for the show as well. The best way to give it a title is to call me "Mom" for everyone on the show.
What is one thing people might not realize about your job?
Most everyone comes to me for their personal requests along with the needs of the show. I'm more of a personal assistant and personality manager than a production coordinator. Thank goodness I'm a people pleaser, otherwise this wouldn't be the right career for me!
What challenges keep you awake at night?
When we travel abroad, I worry most about flights and all the movements it takes to put a show on the road. I quadruple check work visas, flight dates and times and obsess over good seats for everyone on flights and want them to be happy. Working on the road and abroad can be tough, so I try to make the travel parts as smooth as possible for everyone.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
I put my life on hold for the better part of 15 years to make other people's lives run smoothly. My first marriage ended because of touring, and maintaining relationships at a distance is super challenging.
I would always try, but it takes a strong man to handle what I do. Suffice to say I've finally met that man, and we just got married!
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
Be an excellent listener and observer. So much information flies around you all the time and all at once, from so many sources. You must take it all in and hold it in reserve until its time for action. People come to me for information, so I need to know everything about the show and the artist.
Being attentive makes you a "need anticipator" and in this business, it's a must.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
The biggest challenge is to get people to take you seriously.
As a woman in a male-dominated industry, you must prove you aren't a groupie or super fan of the band. You must continually work at maintaining professionalism at all times. Be a team player, work hard, be the first one in and the last one out, and through all this you prove you're there to work and are there for the team -- not because you want to hang out with the band.
What are some of the rules you live by?
I do not socialize with co-workers on days off. Avoiding social situations keeps professionalism a high priority, in my opinion. Of course, if it's a holiday party you attend but in normal situations, I like to keep work and personal life separate. On tour, days off are constructed to hang out with your co-workers and drink. I've avoided this and by doing so, people have the confidence in me to take care of whatever they need. If I was out drinking the night before that becomes the conversation for the next day, just like in high school. If I keep myself out of those situations, people take me seriously in my job.
Also, another rule to live by is making time for "me time."
If you spend the better part of 15 hours a day, 7 days a week giving and taking care of others, you must take some time for yourself, too. If you don't, you'll snap.
What advice do you have for women who want to work in production?
Stand tall, maintain your posture and your composure, and take nothing personally. Your strongest defense in succeeding in production is to be consistent in your demeanor, act quick in this ever changing environment, be proactive to make things happen and put out fires all day long. Don't cry -- unless it's in private. Do not gossip, and keep your crazy thoughts to yourself. It's very easy to let defenses down when you are comfortable with your co-workers, but to succeed on the road you need to keep it to yourself. The less you share personally, the better off you are, and management types notice this and appreciate it.
What has been the accomplishment so far that you’ve been the most proud of?
I've always had a hard time answering questions like this. I feel I could have accomplished more by age 39. But instead of reaching for something grandiose and trying to impress anyone, I'm still amazed I've worked with some of the biggest bands and artists, and they've taken me all over the world. Plus I get paid to do what I do. I suppose if you'd still go to work even if you weren't being paid or won the lottery tomorrow -- you're on the right path, in the right career and that's quite an accomplishment.