At the time this interview was administered, Thai Nam Pham was the Accounting Manager and Guest Selection Committee Coordinator at Anime Expo. Mr. Nam Pham graciously took some time out of his busy schedule to offer insights on convention accounting and guest relations.
Note: this interview was originally performed on January 26, 2010 as part of an article series for Anime Dream. At the present, Thai Nam Pham does not work for Anime Expo. The interview was conducted via e-mail.
Anime Herald: What is your role at your convention? What kind of duties are you responsible for?
Thai Nam Pham: Accounting Manager for the SPJA Finance Division. Ensure proper accounting for all transactions at the convention. Guest Selection Committee Coordinator. Pursuing any potential guests that AX wants and coordinating the logistics of the guests’ stay once obtained.
Anime Herald: What types of challenges does a person in your position have to tackle?
Thai Nam Pham: Getting enough sleep during the convention. Ensure staff have adequate amounts of time to eat and enjoy the convention (some may work overtime without realizing it). In terms of the finance side, ensuring that all monies come into the convention are accounted with proper backup for audit related purposes. For the GSC Coordinator position, ensuring that all the needs of the guests are known prior to the convention to make sure that their stay is a comfortable and fun as possible. Another challenging aspect is to obtain guest considering it is a shot in a dark to retrieve some high end ones.
Anime Herald: Any aspects of your job that you particularly enjoy? Any downsides?
Thai Nam Pham: In terms of the finance, I enjoy the fact that I can see a different aspect of the convention that many people do not get to see (numbers). In terms of the GSC position, it is the satisfaction that I receive once a guest is obtained. You get to work with many respective parties outside the country. I also get to practice my Japanese (lol). As in downsides, in many cases, the convention is so massive that it is nearly impossible to go to all the events, especially if you are working. With accounting, ensuring that all funds that come in and out of the office can be tedious, but necessary. The downside for coordination position would be in the delayed response of talking with representatives from Japan considering that they are 17 hours ahead of us. The other downside is always the letters of declined from the potential guests.
Anime Herald: How did you get your start at your convention? Were you there from the beginning?
Thai Nam Pham: Started as an attendee back in 2002. First staffed in 2006 in Art Show Department as a regular staffer. Took the position of Staff Resources Manager in 2007, applied and obtained the job as Office Manager is 2007, and was promoted to Accounting Manager back in late 2009. Unfortunately, I was not there at the beginning of AX back in 92.
Anime Herald: Have your duties changed from between now and when you first began?
Thai Nam Pham: Yes, very much so. Please see answer 4 [the previous question] for more information.
Anime Herald: Do you have any advice for people wanting to enter the same position as you?
Thai Nam Pham: Understand the responsibility that you are in. Both positions greatly affect the quality of the convention. You need to understand the fiduciary duties of being an accountant for a non-profit corporation. For the GSC side, you need to know that you have to be patient and courteous with the guests that you want to obtain.
Anime Herald: One can imagine that working an anime convention is an interesting gig. Have you ever encountered any unusual or outstanding situations that you would like to share?
Thai Nam Pham: It’s kind of amazing to see the guests of honor get together and have lots of fun with one another. Example, 2009 GOH Yun Kouga was playing Monster Hunter on her PSP. One of the band members from Moi dix Mois saw her playing and told her that he brought a PSP with him with Monster Hunter. They both played with one another for several hours and had lots of fun doing so.
Anime Herald: Finally, do you have anything to say to our readers?
Thai Nam Pham: Working for an anime convention, particularly Anime Expo, is a lot of fun, and you can obtain lots of new experience and knowledge that can actually help you in your career in life. It is also quite rewarding to know that you are part of the very few who puts their blood, sweat, and tears to put a fantastic event for the industry and fans.