How I got here: Charlotte Oliver, managing director, CEO Event Management | UAE News
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How I got here: Charlotte Oliver, managing director, CEO Event Management

How I got here: Charlotte Oliver, managing director, CEO Event Management

Oliver explains how she developed a personal approach to her events business



I consider myself to be academically capable, but not academically inclined. My personality and way of thinking is much more practical than theoretical, and I have always preferred working to studying. I have a BA in fashion and business from the University of Kent, which seems like an appropriate qualification for an entrepreneur with a business that designs and produces uniforms for events, but I have learned most of what I know about business through practical experience and by watching others. Being dyslexic, I never really enjoyed school and found some subjects challenging. These days, schools are far better equipped with technology, and teachers are trained to help children with dyslexia, but there was less awareness when I was younger. Fortunately, my parents were determined for me to have a good education and they worked hard to send me to a fantastic school with smaller classes, and I did well because of it.

My start

After finishing my degree I worked in London for a promotional agency. That’s where I caught the bug for working in events. That first job took me all over Europe and even as far as Qatar, but it was actually a holiday that brought me to Dubai. I loved it and stayed, and began working in events. The decision to start my own company was made while working at Cityscape Dubai in the peak of the property boom and seeing the potential in the market. I met my first clients at the same event, some of whom we still work with today. Before I knew it, I was working at and providing staff for the Dubai World Tennis Championship and the Dubai Rugby 7s, to name but a few.


I have always been a ‘glass half full’ character and when I started the business I was fearless. I think that made me take risks and not worry too much about what tomorrow could bring. When I first started CEO Event Management, my focus was on winning work rather than stopping to think about how much time and effort it would take to actually carry out the work thereafter. When the work started coming in, I had to work around the clock. I would work back-to-back events during the day, then go to Satwa to check on tailors making uniforms for the next event on my way home. I would then come home to wash the uniforms that had been worn that day, and start doing all of the staff booking and administration that goes into running a business. I cared about and personally looked after every aspect of the business, and that has always stayed with me, even now that I have a team to back me up. I truly believe in the importance of attention to detail and leading by example. You can always find me at events doing whatever needs to be done; no job is too big or small.

Highs and lows

Sadly, my father passed away suddenly three years ago. At first I found it very hard to deal with the immediate grief and shock. Work gave me to focus and helped me to reset and get my equilibrium back. I am now better at recognising what is important in life, and what is not worth worrying about. One of the many highs was watching Andrea Bocelli perform at the Global Education Skills Forum last year. He played to an intimate crowd in support of a charity he passionately supports. Events like that stay with you for a long time and I am lucky to have been involved with so many over the years.

Dos and don’ts

These are some dos and don’ts for the event industry in particular. Do be prepared to work when everyone else is having fun. Some of the best events are in the evenings and at the weekend. Try to be present in the moment and not to take things for granted. You can still enjoy the buzz of an event if you are there for work. Don’t underestimate the importance of small details. Clients and guests at an event will always notice if something is out of place.


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