TEDxWanChai – Shelly Govila

In Curating by Mark Sylvester

The Hack: Find talent in your local pools, and don’t try to do everything yourself.


Shelly Govila is one of those super-energetic, passionate TEDsters you’d just love to have on your team. Her team at TEDxWanChai loves her energy as well. She’s very involved in the region, having traveled to TEDxSingapore, TEDxShanghai, and TEDxWeekend (for Organizers). You’ll love getting to know Shelly and will discover new ideas you will want to put to use on your show.

Originally from India, she moved to Hong Kong and first was involved in a University TEDx. In 2014 she ran marketing for Wanchai. There’s a lot of TED in her adopted town, three TEDx events in Hong Kong, Wanchai, Hong Kong and Mongkok. She says they have a divide and conquer system, not all the team works on all the events.

We talked at length about their Open Mike night (video below) and how tricky it is to pull speakers from the x-patriate community. The ambiance and vibrant nightlife of a music store/bar, with 300 people as the Jury helps them find some exciting ideas and presenters. Everyone gets a rating card and picks 3 to 5 speakers.

Don’t go begging for money. Ask for services or skills instead.”Shelly Govila, Co-Curator, Director of Marketing

The Lightning Round

  • Tell us a bit about your background and your TEDx origin story.

    She started by doing a TEDx University event, then volunteered to run Marketing at TEDxWanchai in 2014. She’s not stopped since!

  • How many TEDx events have you worked with or produced?

    She’s attended TEDxShanghai, TEDXSingapore (shout out to Dave Lim), TEDxHongKong and 15 school and university events.

  • What makes your TEDx unique?

    The diversity of cultures in Hong Kong means there’s going to be an East Meets West vibe from the speakers. They also make sure there are very high production values. Shelly says they are equated with the Cirque de Soleil of Asia.

  • What’s your Superpower?

    Marketing. She loves the social media work, building out the website and of course, making all the partnerships work.

  • What was the biggest surprise while working on your event?

    The audience reaction and how they said the event was, “unexpectedly great.”

  • Every event has its challenges, what was the biggest dragon you had to overcome?

    Keeping team spirit up. Managing to have the team inspired all the time.

  • What’s one piece of advice you have for veteran organizers? For first-timers?

    Get your team together for social events to keep team spirits high. No work, no agenda, just fun.

  • Looking forward to your next event, what excites you the most?

    The theme: Small is the new Big.

  • What’s a TEDx event that you’d like to attend?

    TEDxSydney, TEDxVienna (Sydney show is up, Vienna is coming)

  • The show is called Hacking the Red Circle, so what's your best hack?

    Find talent in your local pools. Don’t try to do everything yourself.

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