Describe your career in 5 words.

Evolving, exciting, demanding, varied, special.

You are a Senior Project Manager in our Middle East team, and you’ve lived out in the UAE for six years now. What was it that drew you to the region, and how has the nature of major events evolved there during that time? 

I worked with CSM in London for 6 years before moving to the UAE for my husband’s job in 2015 (with 2 years in Mexico City in between, which gave me a habanero obsession and a cracking guac recipe).

The events industry has always been bustling in the Middle East with big name concerts, world renowned sporting events such as Abu Dhabi F1, Special Olympics World Games 2019, CrossFit Games, AFC and the UAE Tour as well as regional cultural events taking place. We also have a lot of world-class event people in the region. Events in Saudi saw an upturn at the end of 2019 with major projects and strategic sponsorships really starting to take shape. However, with the pandemic, the industry came to a grinding halt and sadly, many industry professionals lost jobs and trusted suppliers are no longer around.

At the end of 2020 the UAE saw DP World Tour Championship, Dubai 30×30 and UFC Fight Island open successfully which has paved the way for other sporting events taking place safely, including Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf, Formula E and Extreme E.

Like most countries, virtual events have also boomed here and look to continue to do so. The hope is that with certain tried and tested regulations implemented, live physical events attended by thousands will make an exciting return.

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Encouragingly, events are beginning to return across the region, which is significant given of the number of high-profile events set to be taking place in the Middle East in the next year or two. Tell us a little bit about some of the events you’ve been working on, and also some of those that most excite you in the near future. 

We have just completed The 5th WCO Global AEO Conference for the World Customs Organisation, hosted by Dubai Customs, a virtual hybrid event with over 70 speakers and 4000 attendees from 157 countries. It has been interesting to see government entities embrace the way conferences have evolved over the past year, from virtual platforms and green screen production, to them being more hands on with operational decisions. I also worked on the DP World Tour Championship in December which focussed on making the event a success with strict Covid-19 protocols. This really was one of the first sporting events to restart the industry. It has been a learning curve due to so many changes in the way we work, especially with screening large numbers of people, having ‘athlete bubbles’ and social distancing measures.

As for the future, seeing Extreme E come to life and evolve. I love that it showcases the thrill of speed and high-performance vehicles, amazing destinations, and clean energy, and provides a platform to talk about climate science.

Natalie Maclean

As a member of CSM’s Environmental Action Group, what attracted you to joining that team, and what role do you think sport and entertainment can play in creating a more sustainable future? 

We work in an industry that has a huge environmental impact, from public refuse on event days, to temporary structures, printed materials, merchandise, labour and even specialist equipment that needs to be flown in. Events are also about giving attendees the best experience possible, and clients often want it done in the most cost-efficient way. Joining CSM’s Environmental Action Group is a way for me to do my part, to learn there are better ways of working and lots of industry solutions and causes out there that can only enhance the event experience.

It’s also great to know that as a global agency we are conscious of our impact, learning and understanding how far reaching it is and taking steps to make the necessary changes. We should all take pride in CSM receiving the Planet Mark recently and knowing that we’re heading towards B-Corp status.

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When not at work, what would we find you doing? 

I started CrossFit three years ago as a way of staying in shape and love the fact it tests the boundaries of personal fitness. I’m lifting weights heavier than I thought possible and pushing myself physically harder than ever.It’s also a great way to de-stress after a hectic day. In the cooler months here in Dubai (Oct – Apr) when it’s not like a hellfire at 48-50oC, I like to hike in the beautiful mountains of Ras Al Khaimah, SUP board in the mangroves or play a round of golf at one of the many top class courses here. It’s easy to forget I live somewhere that people come on vacation!