Off hours: Informa Middle East exhibition director's me time is gym time

Suzy Pallett is the exhibition director at Informa Middle East, which delivers more than 150 trade and consumer exhibitions annually across the globe – a role for which she moved to the UAE last year. She is currently organising the Bride Show 2016, a female-focused consumer event, which runs until tomorrow. Ms Pallett, 37, previously worked in her home nation, the UK.

How do you spend your weekend?

Still new to the region, I am on an amazing adventure at the weekends of discovering the best places, from the surfing beaches to the city’s bike paths, restaurants, cafes and all the best spots to view sunsets. I am also in the last year of a long-distance degree studying child psychology. It’s been a long six years fitting it in between working on large international events.

How did you become an event director?​​

Having worked across an extensive and international range of industries, from litigation to financial marketing, I worked on my first event, the Country Living Magazine fair, in 2001, which started my passion for the events industry. Within 18 months in my first role, I had managed to work through each department and sector of events roles, resulting in a solid and strong experience base in producing quality exhibitions to large audiences. From 2001 onwards, I have directed a wealth of high-profile and consumer events, including the Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace for the queen, Top Gear Live, Next Top Model Live, Cake and Bake featuring the Great British Bake Off, and Destination Star Trek.

What is your go-to gadget?

I have to admit to being slightly old school here. While my go-to gadgets are without a doubt my iPhone and BlackBerry – I’d be lost without map apps – I am still a pen and pad person. There is nothing like crossing off items from a handwritten to-do list.

What was the lowest point of your career?

I wouldn’t say the lowest point, but there was a key turning point. After producing the Coronation Festival – a career highlight for me – I didn’t feel I could stay in events in the UK. After spending two years curating and executing the event to a live audience of 60,000 and a BBC television audience of more than 1.5 million, no other opportunity seemed to provide as a big of a challenge. This was when I was approached by the Middle East for a new opportunity.

What advice would you offer others starting out in your business?

It 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; not many industries give this tangible evidence.

It also means you have to believe and be able to visualise each step of the event; people that just like to work from a tick-list approach shouldn’t work in events, as it’s an all-consuming, ever-evolving industry that requires a holistic approach to how your part in the process contributes to the bigger picture.

What is your most indulgent habit?

My gym time. I have to fit it in by getting up at 5am, but I am an early riser. That’s my “me” time and without it I feel cheated.

What do you have on your desk at work?

Files for each section of the event(s), magazines that provide insight into what our visitor interests are, inspirational creative pieces of art or quotes and, embarrassingly, a Rod Stewart calendar.

What can’t you live without?

Video-calling technology – we live in an age where the world is a more connected place, and so even though I am away from friends and family I can reach them and feel like they are in the room with me. It’s important to stay grounded, and video calling with my 90-year-old grandad ensures I can always be reminded of the great things in life and about balance and keeping your feet firmly on the ground.

How do you achieve a work/life balance?

I am extremely fortunate to have a six-year-old son who manages me very well. Having a child forces you to capture a balance and offer them 100 per cent of your attention. Weekends are mummy and son days when I can indulge all the fun things about life, although I have to admit that as soon as his bedtime hits, I am usually found back at the laptop.

If you could swap jobs with anyone, who would it be and why?

I am lucky to enjoy my job with the highs and lows, and the excitement of seeing an event come to life. When I have had enough of events and the grass is starting to look greener, having studied child psychology and being able to converse in sign language, I guess you will find me helping out in a school for deaf children.

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