An 'event'ful decade and still counting

Top Stories

An eventful decade and still counting
Charlotte Oliver and Lucy Oliver.

Sisters provide event personnel and staffing solutions


Sandhya D'Mello

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Sat 13 Jan 2018, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Sat 13 Jan 2018, 9:56 PM

When you have brands like HSBC, Mubadala, Emirates, Etihad, Sony, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and Chanel on your client list, you have a sense of achievement of having come a long way or in the case of CEO Event Management, it's been about a decade. The sisters, Charlotte Oliver and Lucy Oliver, are now celebrating 10 years of hard work and aiming for the sky.
Founded in 2007, CEO Event Management specialises in providing event personnel and staffing solutions to leading international brands and events in the UAE. CEO has access to over 2,000 trained and experienced staff who are recruited, led and supported by a core team of in-house event managers who ensure that events run smoothly from planning to execution.
"It's such a massive achievement for CEO to be running for 10 years and sometimes I feel like we have to pinch ourselves to make sure it is real. For 2018, we hope to be able to grow CEO even more and to be involved in more of the UAE's prestigious events," said Lucy.
Charlotte adds: "I am extremely proud to have built this company along with my team over the last 10 years. I highly value the relationships we have developed and sustained with our clients, many of whom we have worked with since the beginning. Our goal for 2018 is to keep growing, both in terms of clients and staff. Hiring young enthusiastic people and teaching them skills they can use later in their career has always been an important part of our success."
Organic growth
Lucy says due Dubai's growing economy and fast-paced life, the city raises the corporate bar when it comes to hosting events. Dubai is renowned for hosting some of the world's greatest and elaborate events which people from all over the world come to attend. "We have been fortunate to be involved in some of these amazing events and hope to be a part of these in 2018 and the years ahead.
"His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, once said that 'the race for excellence has no finish line' and it certainly feels like that in the UAE. There is no question that Dubai and Abu Dhabi host some of the best events in the world. The energy and flair is unparalleled and everyone likes to push the boundaries to make each event better than the last. You definitely cannot be complacent in this environment. You have to be dynamic and constantly challenge yourself to innovate and improve," says Charlotte, an Arts degree holder from the University of Kent.
The company has grown from one person to a team that now has access to over 5,000 talented staff, fluent in more than six languages. Equipped to cater to the needs of both regional and international brands as well as exhibitions, product launches and gala dinners, CEO Event Management recently celebrated the success of the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix and Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens. 
Female entrepreneurs
Charlotte first arrived in Dubai on holiday and only intended to stay for a month, but she spotted an opportunity in the market. "There was a gap for quality event staffing in the region and I decided to take a risk and launch CEO Event Management. As Dubai has grown, so has the business and now we staff and run events for some of the region's most famous and influential businesses and individuals."
Lucy trained as a lawyer before starting her career at the Financial Ombudsman Service in London. After a year in the industry, she realised it was not her calling and chose to move to Dubai for a year to work with her sister at CEO. Her passion for the business began to grow, and eight years down the line, she is now fully involved in the daily management and strategic responsibilities of the company.
"We're sisters and we have a way of working together that gels," says Lucy, "It's not just us, we have a permanent team of 10 who work tirelessly. We're all willing to put in the hard work and in Dubai, that's the only way to be successful."
The dynamic duo believes that with the growing number of female entrepreneurs, it goes to show how the UAE recognises that women have a lot to offer to the country. "It's amazing how the UAE encourages female entrepreneurs like us and by showing this support, it gives inspiration to the younger generation to strive to become CEOs and put their dreams into fruition. I look up to so many female role models in the UAE, especially working mums who face the same challenges as I do. Some days, you just wish you could be in five places at the same time and finding balance can be challenging. There is nothing more empowering than seeing successful women who have created flourishing businesses. I have always found the UAE to be incredibly supportive of women entrepreneurs and it really is an amazing country to build a business in," says Charlotte.
With Expo 2020 on the horizon and the UAE's desire to lead global tourism, Charlotte believes there is the prospect to grow further. "We have been lucky to ride some difficult periods of economic uncertainty as we have a very loyal client base. With Expo 2020 on the horizon, there will be plenty of opportunity in Dubai over the coming years and we plan to hire young, positive and inspiring people who love working in the events industry."
Do's and don'ts of business

  •  Always be on time, bring a smile, be chatty and always be willing to get stuck in.
  • The event world is a fun and exciting industry to be a part of and has so many opportunities to meet new people including potential employers (you never know who you are going to meet) so as long as you embrace it and work hard you cannot go wrong.
  • Do the hard work and the long hours. Be there for every important stage of your company. Recognise your strengths and weaknesses and try to turn them both of them your advantage.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff and always try to have fun!
  • No regrets! It is a waste of your time and it is always better to try and fail then not have tired at all. That is always easier said than done, but 10 years in business gives you enough confidence to follow through even when things are difficult.
  • Wishful thinking does not get you far and mistakes can be as important as the wins in shaping your character and your business.

More news from