EventNook Interview Series – Carolyn Oei

Behind The Scenes Of Event Planning and Brand Building

At EventNook, we witness the start and finish off numerous events and the evolution of many brands. From business conferences to musical festivals, what is constant for these various events is the never ending hard work involved in its planning, much like the marketing efforts of different brands. How do you plan a successful event? What is it like to build a brand name for a company? We reached out to some of these professionals to share their stories.


Carolyn Oei – Founder of The Creative Voice


Carolyn is the founder of The Creative Voice, a company focused on arts and culture. She has organised and curated numerous festivals and shows including Musicity Singapore 2014, Lit Up Singapore, Singapore Heritage Festival (Tiong Bahru Night Programme), and Sarah Kay & Phil Kaye – A Spoken Word Experience. Other festivals and events Carolyn has supported include Singapore International Storytelling Festival, Singapore Night Festival, and Chemistry’s Makan Matters. Carolyn is also the co-founder and principal writer for Mackerel, a culture magazine that she started with poet/photographer, Marc Nair. She is also an Associate Lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. On the community front, she is a long-term volunteer with the Riding For The Disabled Association and is a member of her local resident’s committee. Carolyn is currently Festival Manager of Neon Lights, a music festival featuring international and local acts as well as robust arts programming.

1) What made you realize, and when did you realize creative directing was something you wanted to do instead of following the typical attorney route?

CO: “Creative directing” is an interesting term. I think it’s more relevant to what I do now with my company The Creative Voice than the public relations & communications work that I did previously with agencies and in-house. I left the law a long time ago. Although I am not practicing now, the skills that I learned have been invaluable. And they are basic yet critical things such as being able to read and draft a contract. These are fundamentals that everyone should be aware of, creative industry or not.
What made me realise that creative work was for me were motivation and natural inclination. I finally tuned into those two things and made the decision to do what I was more naturally gifted to do.

2) What does your schedule of a busy day look like?

CO: Something like this –

5.30am: Wake. Potter around slowly trying not to hurt myself fumbling about in the dark. Feed the cat.
5.45am: While water for tea is boiling, check email and phone messages to see if anything urgent needs to be attended to.
6.15am: Wolf down some breakfast, shower, and dress.
6.45am to 6pm: Get cracking. For me, this could mean going out to teach my classes at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, sitting at my computer to start writing an email, or going out to do an event, photo/video shoot, conduct interviews, and meetings.
8pm to 10pm: Catch up on work that I couldn’t do during the day because I was out. I find it difficult to incorporate the creative process, ie: the writing, into the frenzy of the daylight hours. So, my creative work is usually done at night and on the weekends.

3) As someone who works with ideas, have you ever felt stuck when working on projects? What do you do to get new inspirations?

CO: Yes, I have. I think it’s a very natural part of the process to plateau or to hit the proverbial wall. From experience, I’ve found that feeling stuck typically happens as a result of fatigue. Low batt is low batt. You just have to recharge. So, I stop work and sleep the sleep of the dead. And I try not to overextend myself on a daily basis. Fresh air and the sunshine are, quite literally, my way of “getting unstuck”.

4) What was one memorable lesson you’ve learnt through personal experience during the course of your career? What happened?

CO: And this is the lawyer in me speaking, document everything. Ideally, in an email and/or an actual document. Do not rely on SMS or WhatsApp communications. It’s good governance generally and keeps everyone honest.

5) If you are given time to do anything you want without work obligations, what will you do? Where will you go?

CO: I would work on a vegetable farm that also had an animal sanctuary attached. Where? Wherever that farm might be!

6) What is your favourite quote?

CO: “The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.” – Bertrand Russell

7) What is one advice you wish you had received when you first started out your career?

CO: I’ve found that just because I love what I do doesn’t mean that I must love it every single day. There are days when I downright hate it, but that’s because of a particular situation or even person. The most important thing to feel about your work is whether you can see yourself doing it in a fulfilling and mostly happy way for a long time.

8) What is one change in the industry you would like to see?

CO: In the context of writing, I would like to see writers stop undercutting their colleagues in the industry. And for writers generally to be paid fairly for their work. Nothing angers me more than some smart-ass client saying things like, “I could have written that myself.” Well, why didn’t you?

We’d like to thank Carolyn for participating. Please stay tuned for our upcoming interview series posts every week!

About EventNook:

Event Management Software company, EventNook is an online event registration & ticketing platform where organisers can set up and customise their very own event page. Through it, organisers can collect attendees’ information and their payment using a real-time dashboard. Features such as Automated Email Confirmation and QR Code Check-In make the job of event organisers much easier and more efficient. Recently, EventNook launched an Event Venues Directory which provides information on more than 5,000 venues in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and Hong Kong, making one of the best places on the web to look for venues in South East Asia.

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