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Agency Eye: Oddity Events' Lizzy Eaton

Lizzy Eaton, director at Oddity Events, chats to Martin Fullard about starting up and running events for the Heathrow Airport expansion programme.

 

Lizzy Eaton is a seasoned events professional who, in 2018, took the plunge and elected to start up her own agency. Now, just over a year on, she is working on some impressive projects, namely the Heathrow Airport expansion project. We caught up over coffee…

 

Martin Fullard: What inspired you to set up Oddity Events?

Lizzy Eaton: I guess what inspired me was that I’d reached a high level at my previous agency. I had 10 lovely people working in my team but after five years felt I needed a change. I felt I couldn’t offer any more and a new direction was needed. 

I’d also just got married, so it felt like the right time to be a bit ambitious and to try and make my own way. 

 

So, I guess it was a scary experience?

Yes, it was scary, and remains as much, in a good way. It’s hard to maintain a level of conviction when you only have yourself to rely upon. You need to be quite sure of yourself and sometimes it can be an obstacle. So, I try to maintain reason! As long as keep my goals at the forefront of my mind, I carry on. 

 

Is it just you or do you have a team around you?

It’s just me for now, although I’m looking to expand in the next few months. My upcoming events are all project-based and it would be useful for a junior member to help me out. In the meantime I have a network of excellent freelancers.

 

What events are in the works?

I’m working on some projects with Heathrow, who are a new client of mine. I’ve worked with them in the past and they’ve come over to work with me at Oddity. One of the events I’m working on is about supplier engagement for the Heathrow expansion programme, which is at the beginning of September. 

I’ll be following that up with an experiential installation at the Conservative, Labour, and Scottish National Party political party conferences. It will be a chance for delegates to network and talk about the expansion programme, but to also chill out and have a nice time.

 

How would you summarise your first year? Have you enjoyed it and what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

The first year has been a huge learning curve. It has been both enjoyable and rewarding, and I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned more about myself, my limitations and my ambitions, it seems sometimes I can be a little unrealistic! 

Of course, there have been ups and downs, but generally it has been a positive year. I’m looking forward to the next step and future events.

 

The Events Industry Board is the bridge between industry and government. If you could raise an issue or ask a question, what would it be?

I’d ask them what safeguards are in place in the event of an economic downturn, especially with Brexit in the frame. When I started in the industry in 2008 [in the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis], it was very difficult to find work because companies weren’t spending money on events. What advice, or measures, can the Events Industry Board offer to small businesses like mine to overcome that risk. 

 

If you could change one thing about the business events industry, what would it be?

I’d like to refine the accessibility to continual professional development (CPD) and education at all levels of event management, and in different disciplines, such as operations, sales etc.

There are some association bodies that offer a level of CPD, but the standard isn’t easy to navigate, in my opinion. 

I would like to see a more obvious working group or body that agencies like mine can go to for advice. Especially around social issues like accessibility, sustainability, and environmental issues. 

 

Mental health has been topping the agenda this year, what do you think will be the next big talking point?

I think the next major talking point will be accessibility and inclusivity in the events industry. What we are doing to accommodate people with differences and how we position these issues as priorities in our planning process will soon take precedence.