Performing with passion

9 September 2021 Written by VRC

Not many people can boast that they have worked for the same company for more than 30 years, but it is a milestone that Jo O’Shaughnessy can claim, having begun working at the VRC in 1989.

Jo O’Shaughnessy started going to the races with her family when she was a baby in a pram. Lucky enough to grow up on a property complete with paddocks, stables and a number of horses, her affinity with the animals continued. “From a young age, I would ride before and after school. From this point, my love of racing and the horse has been unwavering.”

She has worked in racing her entire career, having been offered the first ever job she applied for: working with the Australian Trainers Association (ATA) and Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association (TROA). This led to her start with the VRC in 1989 where she assisted with membership applications in the mornings and VOBIS (Victorian Owners & Breeders Incentive Scheme) in the afternoons. “I loved the breeding side. My passion and enthusiasm were noticed by the Chairman at the time and I was thrilled after three months to be offered a full-time job to assist the VOBIS manager, who ironically was Leigh Jordon, who is now also my boss today.”

Jo has been in her current role of Stakeholder Liaison Executive since February 2018, which involves acting as an intermediary between the VRC and racehorse owners and trainers. She helps to meet the segment’s needs for information, support and assistance, and it is a role that brings her much joy. “I love the day-to-day interactions with people who are so passionate about the horse and the racing industry. It is not like any transactional arrangement like some workplaces, it is a real personal engagement with all participants.”

Jo is also particularly close to the role, creating it herself after many years of working within the industry and identifying a need. Although she cites this as her greatest career moment, every race day at Flemington is a memorable moment for this passionate racing fan. “There is nothing quite like the theatre of the race track. I love greeting the winning connections and seeing the unbridled joy on their faces.”

Like many people in the industry, Jo’s leisure time is intertwined with her job.

“I still love riding and enjoy going to the races, and I’m lucky enough to have a few racehorses that I race with some very special friends.”

She is also still as passionate about her work as she was when she first began in October 1989. “Whilst it might seem like a long time to an outside observer, I can say it feels just like yesterday I started in such a wonderful and fulfilling industry.”