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Meet the Bray Leino Events team behind the delivery of the UK’s event programme at Expo 2020 Dubai

Expo 2020 Dubai will be a six-month global celebration of culture, collaboration and innovation where 190 countries will come together to show how we can collectively build a better world for all. Despite a year’s delay due to the global pandemic it is set to be the place where the world will finally come together again.

The UK’s participation at Expo 2020 Dubai will showcase a variety of exciting and engaging event activations across the six-month period that will celebrate our own creativity and innovation, presenting the UK as an ideal place to visit, study and do business.

Designed by award winning artist and designer Es Devlin OBE, the UK Pavilion will play host to lots of exciting event activations and some of the key highlights include:

National Day
On the 10 February 2021 the UK will takeover the Expo 2020 Dubai site to deliver an extraordinary celebration of the very best of British. The day will feature a variety of activations on the UK Pavilion and across the wider Expo site. Potentially the biggest highlight of our calendar so expect some big surprises!

Breakthrough Moments
These 8 events spread across the six-month period will address overarching themes of the future. Programmes vary in length from 5-7 days and will comprise of immersive and engaging event activations targeted at a business and public audience.

For more information on the UK at Expo event programme visit: https://www.events.great.gov.uk/website/3127/home/

It is true to say that behind every largescale event is a team of experienced, dedicated, and passionate event planners. Having been appointed by the Department for International Trade (DIT) as the official event management service provider for the UKs programme of events at Expo 2020 Dubai, the Bray Leino Events team will be responsible for bringing to life this ambitious events programme.

As we build momentum and enter the last 10 months of planning, we are proud to introduce you to the team who are working hard behind the scenes. Giving you an insight into the different event skills that are required to deliver such a complex scope of work as well as what makes the team so passionate about this project.

Nick Crossland
Account Director

Q. What are your key day to day responsibilities on the Expo project and how do these differ from other projects you work on?

Expo 2020 Dubai is one six-month long event. Bray Leino Events is creating and managing hundreds of separate events during this time and although we are used to working on largescale events, they often have one theme. Each event within Expo is different from the next, and each is designed differently with its own challenges and requirements.

I am the Account Director for the project and work very closely with our brilliant and versatile team to ensure all elements and planning are on-track as Day 1 draws closer.

Q: The postponement of the Expo dates has meant that our lead time for delivery will have changed drastically with an additional 12-month lead time, how do you plan for this?

The additional lead time has helped for all the obvious reasons, but the planning is much the same; there is still a huge amount to do and the day-to-day deadlines and budgets don’t get any easier. I’ve learnt not to get too daunted by the scale of the project and try to consistently break elements down into manageable chunks.

Alice Murrie
Event Director

Q. What are your key day to day responsibilities on the Expo project and how do these differ from other projects you work on?

As Event Director I work very closely with the Account Director, Nick Crossland, and the Expo project team from DIT to oversee the development, delivery, and smooth running of all project areas. This project is constantly adapting and evolving as the world around us changes, making it essential that we stay ahead of the game.

The team have put a lot of work into exploring the latest event technology and specifically developments in the latest hybrid and virtual event tech offerings. With a variety of different event activations happening across the six-month period we want to ensure that our global audience can still attend and experience the true magic of a World Expo, whether in person or virtually.

Q. What element of the project are you most excited about?

Working on Expo 2020 Dubai is definitely one of those career defining projects where you get to truly push your creative boundaries and test your event planning capabilities. Undoubtedly every event planner looks forward to that moment where all your months of hard work finally come to life onsite.

However, for me, this project has presented the opportunity to work with some truly talented individuals. From the team here at Bray Leino Events, who work tirelessly, to all of the exceptionally talented speakers, performers and artists that will feature in our event programme to make the UK’s participation at Expo 2020 Dubai an unforgettable experience!

Hannah Turley
Lead Senior Event Manager for Sponsorship and Cultural Programme

Q: What are your key day to day responsibilities on the Expo project and how do these differ from other projects you work on?

My key day-to-day responsibilities have 3 core areas of focus. Firstly, I am responsible for Sponsorship and Stakeholder Management, acting as the Account Manager counterpart to the DIT sponsorship team, assisting with sponsor and business club event planning. Secondly, I am responsible for management of the Cultural Programme, working with DIT to develop the content for the programme and bringing activations to life across music, sport, theatre and the arts each week of the event.

Lastly, I have responsibility for managing the official UK Pavilion event calendar, looking at the event scheduling and logistics planning for our many partner events.

Q: What element of the project are you most excited about?

I am very excited to see the outcome of UK National day and the Cultural Programme. Having studied Performing Arts as part of my combined honours degree and been part of a dance company, I have a very strong passion for arts and culture so I’ve really enjoyed engaging with academies, theatre groups and drama schools who all have access to fantastic people in the industry.

Claire Albahra
Lead Senior Event Manager for 4 of our Breakthrough Moment Programmes as well as activations in our wider event programme

Q. What are your key day to day responsibilities on the Expo project and how do these differ from other projects you work on?

My role within the Expo 2020 Dubai team is leading on four of the eight Breakthrough Moments, each lasting anywhere between 4 – 7 days and having different content focuses. My Breakthrough Moments include: ‘How will we Travel?’, ‘How will we Learn?’, ‘What will we Eat?’ and ‘How will we Advance?’.

In terms of day-to-day responsibilities these cover several key areas from being the main point of contact for the client, managing and participating in project and stakeholder meetings to driving the content development of each programme. I am also responsible for speaker recruitment and management as well as the overall logistics management of each Breakthrough Moment.

Q. What have you learnt so far working on a project of this size?

Communication and teamwork is key! We have a good amount of project catch-up calls – internal and with the client – to ensure everyone is aware of relevant information. There is a great team behind this project, covering, Project Management, Creative, Production and Finance within Bray Leino Events, but also colleagues from sister agencies such as Speed. I have learnt that bringing all of this expertise together is vital for a project of this size.

Ella Bleszynska
Lead Senior Event Manager for 4 of our Breakthrough Moment Programmes

Q. What are your key day to day responsibilities on the Expo project and how do these differ from other projects you work on?

I am responsible for the day-to-day management of the other 4 of the 8 Breakthrough Moment Programmes, ‘What will we Wear?’, ‘How will we Create?’, ‘How will we Live?’ and ‘How will we Thrive?’. This differs from other projects as there are so many different types of activity and audiences to manage as part of the same event, from creative fashion shows to business led summits, student workshops to thought provoking podcasts.

Q: The postponement of the Expo dates has meant that our lead time for delivery will have changed drastically with an additional 12-month lead time, how do you plan for this?

The scale and ambition of this programme of events is huge. Now that we have an extra year this gives us the luxury of more time to develop and explore different creative concepts and source higher profile speakers. I see this as an advantage in many ways! However, we must make sure we use this time productively and stay focused.

Kate Middleton
Lead Senior Event Manager for National Day

Q. What are your key day to day responsibilities on the Expo project and how do these differ from other projects you work on?

I am the lead on National Day for Expo 2020 Dubai, day to day tasks at the moment include putting together a project plan and risk assessment for the day, scoping creative and exciting content for the day with a focus on the dance, music and performance, as well as overall project management. The lead time is a lot longer than some recent projects I have worked on, and it is great to really be able to get stuck into the planning and really focus on this event.

Q. The postponement of the Expo dates has meant that our lead time for delivery will have been just over a year, how do you plan for this?

In events you learn that just about anything can happen, though the uncertainty around COVID-19 restrictions does add a global stress to the event. Having said that, we have plenty of time to plan for all eventualities and really pay attention to every tiny detail.

Hannah Anderson
Event Executive

Q. What are your key day to day responsibilities on the Expo project and how do these differ from other projects you work on?

My role as Event Executive is to support the team in all areas of the Expo 2020 Dubai project in the lead up and during the event. I am currently focussing on speaker recruitment ensuring we can secure the most inspiring and engaging speakers to support the UK programme.

Q: What element of the project are you most excited about?

Seeing the UK Pavilion itself come to life and listening to the amazing and interesting podcasts that will feature in our Breakthrough Moment programmes whilst jogging, it will be great to listen to something different from the norm!

Seb Maki
Design Lead

Q: What are your key day to day responsibilities on the Expo project and how do these differ from other projects you work on?

As Design Lead for Bray Leino Events and Expo 2020 Dubai I am responsible for the development of the creative concept theme across the whole project, with a specific focus on developing and bringing to life our National Day creative ideas.

Q: What have you learnt so far working on a project of this size?

Two things come to mind immediately. First and foremost, I would say that communication between the team here at Bray Leino Events is key. Secondly, I’ve learnt that it is always key to keep revisiting your core objectives which in this case are: THINK, FEEL, DO.

This project has reminded me to be mindful to develop practical solutions that will truly work. Never promise the impossible, that is the real test of concept!

Matt Bentley
Senior Designer

Q. What are your key day to day responsibilities on the Expo project and how do these differ from other projects you work on?

So far, my main focus has been producing a ‘virtual tour’ of the UK Pavilion from scratch. This includes an animated flythrough or walkthrough of the whole architecture of the UK Pavilion. Showing the approach and how it is located in the context of the World Expo site, how the projection spaces and choral spaces will work, all the way down to the ground floor where most of the event spaces and meeting rooms are located.

In addition to the virtual tour I have also produced some interactive 360 panoramas that people can use similar to how you would use google street view. These panoramas also include ‘hotspots’ with detailed content about certain aspects of each area, for example within the choral space there are hotspots for the Soundscape and how the interior poem will look projected onto the walls.

Q. What have you learnt so far working on a project of this size?

I have learnt a huge amount in a small space of time. Not only new software, processes, and skills but also how to work remotely but still as a team. I have learnt that my work colleagues are really my teammates. If I did not have them, we would never have got to where we are now. It helps that it has been such a new and inspiring project, and I think everyone has been enthused about what we can potentially produce. It is what gets me up in the morning!