BIS Alumni – Mila Shwaiko

Mila Shwaiko, born to Australian and American parents, grew up in Bali. She attended Bali Island School (formerly known as Bali International School) from Kindergarten through Grade 6, leaving in 1992. At that time, BIS is only available up to Grade 6. 

After finishing her studies in International Relations/Political Science in Sydney and Georgetown, she returned to Indonesia to work in development.

An organizer for TEDxUbud, Mila was given a scholarship by the Gates Foundation to attend TEDGlobal in Edinburgh in 2013. Her immersion in Balinese culture from a young age has given her quite a unique perspective on the island and the changes it is undergoing. 

Questions for Mila

  1. A brief description of your career; current occupation, title, and company?

I’m the co-founder of Elami and Co Productions, an events production company based in  Bali. 

  1. Tell us more about Elami.co

Elami and Co Productions specializes in event design & production, and brand storytelling. We create experiential event productions and brand experiences for a broad range of local and international clients in the arts, design, architecture, consumer product, and non-profit industries.

We are Ubud-based and have over 8 years of experience producing events in Bali. We are the producers of TEDxUbud and create events from 15 to 1,500 people in unexpected places around the island. 

  1. What led you to TedXUbud?

I originally founded TEDxMakassar when I was working in Sulawesi and when I moved back to Bali I really wanted to stay connected to the incredible community that is TEDx. You meet the most amazing people when you’re putting together a TEDx event, from volunteers, speakers, and attendees. That’s how I met my business partner, Daniela Burr, who founded TEDxUbud. Our company and work was born of a shared love for TEDx and events. 

  1. What are some of the challenges that you have faced in your line of work and how did you overcome them?

Events production is a constant and beautiful series of problems that have to be solved. Sometimes it’s like herding cats (next to impossible). I like to think of event producers being like ducks- paddling furiously under the water but no one will ever see the crazy hard work it takes to make an event flow smoothly. I think the key to surviving an event is knowing something will go horribly wrong no matter how hard you’ve planned and prepared- it’s how you overcome it, your attitude, and how quickly you find a solution that matters. 

  1. How do you keep yourself motivated in your profession?

Go to as many amazing events (exhibitions, festivals, conferences) as possible.  Look outside your familiar universe for inspiration and new ideas that you can develop. Follow breadcrumbs of info on the internet and get lost in stuff that has nothing to do with your work or interests. Always work with good people who bring their best to every project.  

  1. Do you have any advice for BIS students who would like to pursue a career in communication? 

Read everything and listen to as many podcasts as possible. Learn about the basics of storytelling- the traditional practices, structures, and new trends. Start being aware of all the different ways stories are adapted for different platforms and media. Volunteer and do internships so you can see whether it’s the right world for you. 

  1. What are some of your favorite memories of your time at BIS?

Balinese dance classes and performances! Hearing stories from all over the world from teachers from different countries- the ones from 4th grade really stuck. 

  1. What was the most important lesson you learnt from your time in school?

The importance of diversity and realizing how big and amazing the world really is thanks to the teachers, classmates and their families. 

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