#EventProf of the week: Gabriel Clark, LIV Golf

Each week we will focus on a StandOut individual who has been extraordinary within the events industry.

This week it is Gabriel Clark, VP of event operations and workflow at LIV Golf.

How did you get into the events industry? Where has your career taken you and what roles have you enjoyed?

My entrance into the industry was as a day labourer for a structures company in Hong Kong in my early twenties. I had just moved there and was desperate for some cash-in-hand work. I loved it, I learnt so much about being part of a team, problem-solving to meet clients’ needs and working under tight budgets and timelines.

That was the start of a journey that has since taken me all over the world. There have been some bizarre jobs, from hosting guests on fishing trips in Mongolia to building ice rinks in China, but I have been so lucky in my career that I have managed to find work at every stage of the event planning process. I have been a contractor, a supplier, operations director and head of events and so I have been blessed with the chance to get a full 360-degree view of how our industry works.

What is it about your job that you love doing?

I can’t think of many careers that would be as dynamic and fulfilling as one in events is. The job is diverse and offers constant learning opportunities, each event is different, always presenting new challenges and chances to adapt. At its core, the position involves creativity, leadership and decision-making, relying on strategic thinking across many disciplines to guide the success of projects.

In my current role, we have had the fantastic opportunity to build an events business and series from scratch, relying solely on our experience and expertise, starting a new company and executing 22 global events in just two years. Starting with a blank slate and leveraging invaluable knowledge of the fantastic network of suppliers, creatives, and stakeholders to grow this project into what is today has been an incredibly satisfying and rewarding journey.

As we enter our third year, we are beginning to get our heads above water and start thinking strategically, strengthening processes and policies and driving the continuous improvements we need to continue our success. It’s an amazing project to be a part of.

 

What’s been the standout moment of your career so far?

The standout moment of my career was probably the end of my first year in Australia. I was moved over by IMG to become the director of operations of Culinary Events. We had three events across APAC that year culminating in the Margaret River Gourmet Escape. It was a real baptism of fire to come to this new role in a new continent and try and ingratiate myself in a new team with new suppliers at the same time as learning a whole new set of risk, licensing and legal requirements that didn’t exist in Asia. No one was concerned about bushfires in Hong Kong!

The final event, Gourmet Escape was a two-week, 60-venue music, food and wine festival, and with summer temperatures reaching over 40 degrees that year, it was a herculean effort by all involved to get each event successfully over the line incident-free. This was a real testament to setting very clear goals from the outset but being open and honest with suppliers about your limitations and the support you need from them. Showing that vulnerability in that year was the main driving factor to achieving success in all those projects.

What’s been your biggest achievement? Equally, what have you done that you can now look back on and cringe?

It is hard to quantify a single moment here. I would say that my greatest achievement has been the ability to come into new environments and learn quickly what is needed from me and what I need to do/know/learn to discover success. There are moments when we all need to fake it till we make it, and the one thing I would say for sure is (and this is especially true of our industry) if you work hard and treat others well there will always be someone willing to share knowledge experience and advice with you.

Biggest cringe moment? There have been loads, one that comes to mind now is refusing to ask for help in fixing an ice rink and spending a wonderful afternoon, ankle-deep in ice-cold water as I froze, thawed, fixed, froze again, thawed again, and fixed again. My team, quite rightly, watched on warm and dry from the sides until I eventually called the manufacturer to come and solve the issue!

What key pieces of advice would you give to someone starting in events?

Firstly, being humble and a good listener is paramount. Pay close attention to the needs and expectations of clients, team members, and stakeholders. Effective communication begins with understanding, and as an events professional, the ability to listen ensures you can address concerns and deliver successful outcomes.

Secondly, lead by example. Don’t ask your team to do anything you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself (hence, the ice rink fiasco). This not only fosters a sense of unity within the team but also establishes your credibility as a leader. Showing a willingness to roll up your sleeves and contribute enhances team morale and promotes a collaborative work environment.

The adage “you get out what you put in” is particularly relevant in the events industry. Diligence, dedication, and hard work directly correlate with the success of an event. Investing time and effort into meticulous planning and execution yields positive results, creating memorable experiences for all involved.

Lastly, always put things in writing. Clear and documented communication is crucial in the events sector where details matter. Contracts, agreements, and important instructions should be in writing to avoid misunderstandings and ensure accountability. This practice not only protects all parties involved but also provides a reliable reference point throughout the planning and execution stages.

What career goals do you have and where do you see yourself heading? For example, is there an event that you would love to work on but haven’t?

There are a lot of goals I would still like to achieve in my career. I have really enjoyed my move into sports events over the last few years. The challenge of building fun interactive, innovative events for spectators whilst always maintaining the credibility of the competition and the sports players is a fantastic one. One skill I am really learning and developing in my current job is events strategy, analytics and continuous improvement. As technology develops, especially in the AI space, the ability to gain greater insight into how our fans and stakeholders truly interact with our events gives us the opportunity to rewrite the rule book on how we build. I would love to be part of that group of early adapters using new technology to drive greener, cleaner and leaner events for all involved.

If you would like to nominate someone for #EventProf of the week, please email marketing@standoutmagazine.co.uk