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.

Contact us:
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What your Myers-Brigg personality type says about you as an event organiser: Part 3

The MBTI framework is a great tool to better understand our natural inclinations as an event organiser. Rather than defining certain traits for a successful event planner which is really limiting, why not understand how each and every one of us can contribute what we do best naturally. It is not about finding out whether our personality is suitable for event planning. Rather, it is about understanding how we work best.


ISTJ: Logistician

Practical and fact-minded individuals, whose reliability cannot be doubted.

Strengths: The conscientious ISTJ event planner is that event planner you can count on to deliver a smooth-running event. Detail-oriented and logical, the ISTJ event planner’s systematic way of operation will make event planning more efficient. Working with the ISTJ event planner is also slightly more predictable, as they know how to set clear expectations.

Photo Credits: paperblog.com

Weaknesses: Although it is easier to work with the ISTJ for most event planners, those that fail to work up to expectations of the ISTJ event planner can find themselves in a highly unpleasant situation. Also, working with the ISTJ event planner can get dull socially due to their lack of sensitivity. ISTJ event planners should try to be more aware of the dynamics around them. This can help them understand the needs of their clients and the event better, mitigate subordinate’s displeasure and conflict, as well as improve working relations with suppliers.

The ISTJ event planner would also do well to be more creative and open in their thinking. Their penchant for doing things according to the books may cause them to be inflexible and short-sighted, which is disastrous for event planners who need to be able to respond to the inevitable last-minute problems. Don’t expect the ISTJ event planner to be the idea generator of the group, but rather the event planner to foresee disaster from miles away.


ISFJ: Defender

Very dedicated and warm protectors, always ready to defend their loved ones.

Strengths: ISFJ event planners gain the greatest satisfaction from seeing the first-hand effect the event had on the event attendees and their clients. They don’t need to be rewarded by a higher authority for their work. This makes them more likely to focus on the needs of the clients and the larger purpose of the event, rather than to seek to achieve certain externally set goals. They tend to have a better understanding of the event needs and how to make it better than what the clients expected.

Their helpful nature means they get along well with the people they work with, and for an event planner, this is extremely important as the number of partnerships and reliance on external suppliers and people are countless. Being able to sustain a frictionless environment can do wonders to the efficiency of event planning.


Photo Credits: linkedin.com

Weaknesses: Their helpful nature can go overboard and ISFJ event planners tend to be the most stressed event planners out there. They are constantly worried of the well-being of their colleagues and subordinates, which is added pressure on top of the daily stresses of event planning itself.

ISFJ event planners are also slower to accept changes, making them less dynamic event planners. ISFJ event planners should work on pushing the envelope in their profession if they want to achieve distinction.


ESTJ: Executive

Excellent administrators, unsurpassed at managing things – or people.

Strengths: Like the ISTJ, ESTJ event planners know how to create order and and clear expectations in the workplace but their extroverted personalities mean that ESTJ event planners tend to take the lead more and communicate better with people around them. In event planning, this can help to reduce miscommunication and help the ESTJ’s subordinates follow through on their plans better.

ESTJs don’t take shortcuts and will do things the right way (at least according to the books) and these event planners can be relied upon to deliver what they promise. They give their event clients a better peace of mind and thus, can form long-lasting business relationships.

Photo Credits: live-recruitment.co.uk

Weaknesses: ESTJ event planners tend to micromanage, leading to a pileup of stress that event planners should all strive to minimise. However, unlike the ISFJ, ESTJ event planners know how to delegate their work and cooperate with the people around them.

ESTJ are also an inflexible bunch and this can hinder great event planning, which requires being creative in solving solutions and coming up with great event ideas. ESTJ event planners need to surround themselves with very creative colleagues and subordinates. In this environment they will thrive by being the natural leader, keeping ideas in order and alignment with client needs and being the devil’s advocate.


ESFJ: Consul

Extraordinarily caring, social and popular people, always eager to help.

Strengths: ESFJ event planners have no problem navigating rules, hierarchy and people. They know how to make these work for their benefits, but are still careful not to push them. For ESFJ event planners, following the rules can help to reduce miscommunication, make navigating the workplace easier for subordinates and minimise unexpected developments.

People are always happy to work harder and better for an ESFJ. But this is only because ESFJ have helped them in the past and shown to be worthy of their respect. Teamwork and social harmony prevails where an ESFJ event planner is and this makes event planning that much smoother.

Photo Credits: kristinbanta.com

Weaknesses: ESFJ’s sensitivity to people around them as well as their need for social harmony mean that they can get unduly stressed when things go awry. They fare worse when they are working with people who dislike them. Their sensitivity of their status and popularity will cause them to shy away from conflict. For event planners, this may mean shying away from problems that have to be solved, causing these problems to magnify until it is too late. While ESFJ event planners work hard and are conscientious, their sensitivity can cause them to prioritise their personal issues over their clients’ professional needs.


Of course, event planners do not exclusively fit into neat categories. They can span different personality types. Furthermore, personalities do not demonstrate skills which are even more important for event planners. Personalities are great for telling us our natural inclinations and what we need to work on.


Stay tuned to Part 4 for more analysis for other personality types and read up on Part 1 & 2!

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Credits to 16personalities.com for the general analysis of each personality type