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
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