MY WORK­ING LIFE

Suzy Pal­lett left the se­cure ca­reer she’d built in the cor­po­rate world to dive into event plan­ning, and she hasn’t looked back. She’s also be­hind next week’s Bride Dubai, one of the UAE’s big­gest fairs

Friday - - Contents -

Brides, stay calm and get help, says Suzy Pal­lett, the woman be­hind next week’s Bride Dubai fair.

You started out in lit­i­ga­tion and fi­nance be­fore go­ing into events. Why did you make the move. Quite sim­ply, be­cause my ini­tial ca­reer didn’t feel right. In the UK, I started out with the aim of build­ing a ca­reer in the cor­po­rate world through a pre­dictable path­way. I worked hard to get there, but once I did, I felt it wasn’t some­thing I wanted. I re­alised I wanted to pur­sue a ca­reer that was more fast-paced and of­fered a cre­ative work en­vi­ron­ment.

When the op­por­tu­nity came in 2001, I de­cided to risk it all and plunged into events. I in­stantly fell in love with the busi­ness and the rest is his­tory. Be­fore long, I was putting to­gether high-pro­file con­sumer and lifestyle events such as Corona­tion Fes­ti­val at Buck­ing­ham Palace, Top Gear Live, Next Top Model Live, and Des­ti­na­tion Star Trek. So what made you move to the UAE? I was in­cred­i­bly proud of what I had achieved in the UK but I started to sense that I had no other av­enues to ex­plore and I needed a new chal­lenge. So when this op­por­tu­nity came along I couldn’t re­sist it. Was it very chal­leng­ing to set up the wed­ding fair in this re­gion? Wed­ding fairs are not a chal­lenge; af­ter all, wed­dings are a huge part of lifestyle that in­clude fash­ion, food, mu­sic – all of which I knew from pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Mid­dle East re­gion was def­i­nitely the new chal­lenge for me. Un­der­stand­ing this mar­ket and its di­ver­sity has been an ed­u­ca­tion.

Tra­di­tion­ally, Bride was the favoured event of the Arabs. But over the years, we’ve re­alised the needs of the ex­pa­tri­ate pop­u­la­tion as well. So now we have a very good mix of ex­hibitors who cater to both Arab and ex­pat tastes. What do you like the most about or­gan­is­ing wed­ding fairs? The buzz and smiles. There is a dif­fer­ent en­ergy in the air with brides-to-be: ded­i­cated guests, each with a dif­fer­ent dream in mind that we help to make come true. It’s the big­gest day of a bride’s life, af­ter all. What do you en­joy most about your job? Any­one who has worked in events will un­der­stand the in­cred­i­ble stress we feel on site, but at the same time, the buzz and excitement you get is undeniable. The ex­hil­a­rat­ing feel­ing over­rides any stress or panic dur­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion process. And what do you like to do in your spare time? I’m still dis­cov­er­ing Dubai. There are a num­ber of things I haven’t done and places that I still need to ex­plore. I love an ad­ven­ture. From the best surf­ing beaches to the city’s bike paths, restau­rants, cafés and all the best spots to view the sun­sets from, I am still ex­plor­ing it all.

I also am an avid gym goer – it keeps me sane dur­ing event plan­ning. How do you main­tain work-life balance? Work-life balance is vi­tal to me. Dur­ing the week I’m to­tally fo­cused on my po­si­tion as a group di­rec­tor who has high aims and wants to de­liver a great show. On week­ends, though, my seven-year-old son Joshua takes all my time. He keeps me level-headed. But I’m guilty of switch­ing on my lap­top once he’s gone to bed. You are a qual­i­fied child psy­chol­o­gist and know sign lan­guage. How did that hap­pen? Well, you can say that. It was a long six-year course. Try­ing to jug­gle large-scale events as well as an at-home de­gree was quite chal­leng­ing, but I found it in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing. My pas­sion came from hav­ing my son, who had dif­fi­culty hear­ing in his in­fancy. Wit­ness­ing child be­hav­iour and hav­ing to think in a new light for that child got me think­ing and that’s when I started look­ing into the qual­i­fi­ca­tions. What ad­vice would you give those who aspire to be event man­agers? It def­i­nitely isn’t for ev­ery­one; it is a fast­paced job, but in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing. To de­velop in the field takes en­ergy, cre­ativ­ity and a ‘can-do’ ap­proach. The beauty of the events in­dus­try is that you get to see all of your hard work come to life be­fore your eyes; not many in­dus­tries give this tan­gi­ble ev­i­dence. It means you have to be­lieve and be able to vi­su­alise each step of the event.

Peo­ple who take a tick-list ap­proach shouldn’t work in events as it’s an all­con­sum­ing, ever-evolv­ing in­dus­try that re­quires a holis­tic ap­proach to how your part in the process con­trib­utes to the big­ger picture of a suc­cess­ful event. Any ad­vice for a bride-to-be? Take a break from it all. Plan­ning wed­dings can be very stress­ful and can take over your life. My ad­vice would be to step away from it, do some­thing you love, which will help you calm down and get a fresh per­spec­tive. And del­e­gate to your trusted brides­maids. What are the high­lights of this year? We have home and ac­ces­sories ex­hibitors, which is a first. Our VIP lounge is so much fun and more beau­ti­ful. The In­dulge Me Lounge is al­ways a big hit, where women can try beauty treat­ments. And once again, the en­ter­tain­ment and main stage fea­tures have been am­pli­fied.

Bride Dubai takes place from February 15 to 18 at Dubai World Trade Cen­tre. Tick­ets on the door start at Dh25; visit the­brideshow.com/dubai

Suzy has tai­lored the an­nual Bride Dubai event to cater to a va­ri­ety of tastes and cul­tures

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