Nadia Moussa is a freelance event producer and Director of D4 Productions in London and one of The Nurture Network’s fabulous marketing associates. She has created and produced events for some of the biggest brand names around – From Wimbledon to McDonald’s, Formula1 to TK Maxx. Here is her day-in-the-life of story…
It was my career as a brand manager that got me into event production. I studied Business Management at university and from there, went straight to the Unilever graduate programme, which was an on-the-job prep school for brand managers. Over the next 10 years, I worked on some of the biggest FMCG brands such as Birds Eye and Lucozade. Sponsorships and events were always part of my job as a brand manager but I also put my hand up when it came to organising the events that no one else seemed to want to do, like Christmas parties and conferences. Eventually it dawned on me that the part I enjoyed most about being a brand manager was producing big events. So I left my steady job and set up D4 Productions to produce spectacular events with our team of blue-chip trained event producers.
I’m not a morning person by any account so I like to cruise into my day rather than rush. People who are all bouncy and cheery from the minute they drop out of bed scare me. To avoid the madness that is London rush hour commuting, I try to get to my office in Somerset House by 8:30am and check my e-mails over breakfast or I’ll get in for 10am, in which case I will start my workday at home. I like to hold my team meetings at the start of the week so everyone knows what we need to achieve that week to drive the project forward. If I’m working from a client’s office, I adapt to their starting hours. I also have to pick my wardrobe depending on what client I’m working with. My favourite cowboy boots and ripped jeans wouldn’t get me past reception with most clients so you do need to be a bit of a chameleon.
Some events require me to work every day and others only a few days a week. In summer I spend a lot of time working abroad, particularly on sporting events. I was in London for a total of 10 days last summer and travelled to 8 countries in as many weeks. At one point, my friends just stopped inviting me to things because I was never around. The upside is you do get to see some interesting places and work with all kinds of talented people.
As an event producer, there are certain standard skills one needs to come equipped with, such as being super-organised and having an eye for detail. But if you want to play in the premier league and work with the big brands and their agencies, you will need a whole lot more going for you. It’s important to have a strategic mind and understand the business need behind the event you are creating. It’s also essential that you have a solid financial understanding of events and can manage budgets meticulously. Big brands often have huge budgets and will invest several million pounds every year into their events and sponsorships. But it is exactly that, an investment, and it’s my job to make sure they get a great return. My time as a brand manager really prepped me for this – managing brands and events is like managing a business. You are responsible for everything, from Strategy to Marketing to Profit & Loss.
Your people skills need to be on point as well. Being an effective team member and leader means you have to develop skills that allow you to deal with a multitude of situations quickly and professionally; from tracking down the CEO for sign offs whilst they are travelling every day of the week to helping out the Junior Exec, who had a meltdown because they haven’t slept in 2 days. These people are on your team and if you want to win, you need to know how to work with them to get what you need.
The one skill that will really set you apart from others is your creativity. Because most market sectors are highly competitive – be it FMCG, Tech or Finance, you have to be able to create experiences that grab your audiences attention and make them want to engage with your brand as an emotional response to your activity.
Most days I will eat lunch al desco. This is my time to research new shows, exhibitions, venues, artists and tech. As a producer, you need to be a sponge for all kinds of things – from the arts to sports to current affairs. The more creative ammunition you have to play with, the better your events will be. YouTube is an essential tool in my job. I’ve hired incredible talent ranging from Californian skateboarders to Tanzanian acrobats after seeing their YouTube reels. A few weeks ago, I came across a video of a guy making techno beats with pots and pans on the street. He was so mesmerizing, I’ve been trying to find a use for analogue techno in an event ever since. It’s a bit niche, I admit.
I spend my afternoons working on projects, visualising and writing concepts for clients or pitching for new business. Inspiration and creativity go hand-in-hand and if I get stuck, I will go sit in a café or under a tree or whatever takes me. I’ve even jumped on one of those open-air London tour buses once to start writing. That was a fun day.
I try to leave work at 7:30pm and either go to a dance class, a new venue or catch a show with one of my suppliers. You need to make time to build relationships and tend to your little black book. If you hire suppliers blind or based on cost only, you could end up with Beavis & Butthead working on your event and invariably, you’re going to run into trouble. Quality is paramount so it’s worth spending some time finding the best people and using your negotiation skills to get good deals. With live events, you only get one chance to get it right so you need to do your homework.
I usually don’t get home until 10:30pm and if I’m working at an event, it’s often way after midnight. I rarely have time to cook during the week so I try to plan ahead on the weekend or I’ll eat out. When I get home, I have to clear my head before I go to bed or else I wont sleep. Anything from meditating to strolling along the river in Battersea, where I live, does the trick.
I’ll be the first to admit that being an event producer is an all-consuming profession. What keeps me going is the thrill of seeing all the hard work come to life and the joy it brings to guests and clients. To me, event day is always magical.
My dream would be to produce an event like Red Bull Stratos. People jumping to Earth from space – it doesn’t get much better than that.