The Student/Tutor relationship has always been central to the way we deliver our courses at the Academy. We believe that it is essential for our students to benefit from the expertise of industry professionals, as part of their professional development and that is why all of our Tutors are working, Wedding & Event Planners and Designers and business owners. Their ‘job’ is to mark student work, but their passion is to share their own experience and knowledge, so that you can learn from them, as well as from the resources made available to you as part of your course. The feedback they offer against Unit Projects and Assignments is invaluable, but they do more than this. Our Tutors are also there to answer questions throughout the course, so that you never have the feeling of being on your own, even though you are studying online and at a distance.
Today I have the exciting task of introducing a new Tutor to you; Zeina Abou Jamra. Zeina is located in Dubai, but whilst her ‘home’ campus is the Arabian Academy of Wedding & Event Planning, she will be offering her services across all of our campuses, which is particularly exciting for students looking to pursue a career in weddings and events on the International stage. Zeina co-founded her business, Jive Events, after over 10 years of marketing and event management experience working with multinational brands within the MENA region. She also holds a Masters degree in Business Administration and has a wealth of managerial experience to share with anyone looking to launch a business.
I hope you enjoy getting to know Zeina better by reading my interview with her below and please enjoy the images of just some of the exciting events that she has been a part of.
Zeina, welcome to the Academy! Can you tell us a little bit about how your business, Jive came to be?
Jive Events was launched in 2014 and was a result of 2 years of business planning and market research. Several driving forces lead to the launch, including our Entrepreneurship spirit and the desire of launching our own brand. Another driving force was the business opportunities that UAE presents, specially within the events industry; whether social or corporate events. But most importantly was finding the right business formula; from the right partners, to brand positioning and pricing strategy.
I have had the pleasure of watching you working close with Katia, your business partner. At the Academy we have a number of students who have enrolled with friends or family members so that they can eventually launch a business in partnership. Can you share with us what each of you brings to Jive Events? Do you both work on every aspect of a wedding or event, or do each of you have your own strengths that you focus on when working with clients?
One of the major success factors is for all partners to work towards the same business goal and objectives. If the ultimate vision is clear, then all the steps leading to achieve that goal will be in agreement. What also worked well for our brand is that we divided the work among the partners, so for example handle the business aspects including client servicing, budgeting, etc., while Katia handles the creative aspect such as styling and branding.
How do you balance the dual responsibility of working ‘on your business’ and ‘in your business’?
This is the hard part, as you need to think both on a macro and micro level, which sometimes gets confusing. However, time and experience will allow you to decide when it is time to wear the investor hat and when you should wear the manager/employee hat.
In an interview with Lace in the Desert, you described your style as; Romantic. Artistic. Inspired. Enchanted. Passionate. Dynamic. When you first started out, did you have a clear vision for your business and the style you wanted to be known for, or has that developed over time?
Of course to start a business, you will have an idea of what style you want to achieve. However, it will only be an ‘idea’. Only when you start the actual work and hear the feedback from your clients, can you start identifying and fine tuning that style, until you reach a certain point that you are proud of and happy to differentiate yourself with.
We consider this to be an on-going process that also changes with time and experience.
Many of our readers may be interested in working in Dubai as Wedding and Event Planners, Stylists and Designers themselves. In your opinion, why is Dubai a great place to forge a career in the wedding and event industry?
The UAE in general and Dubai specifically encourages entrepreneurship and offers a lot of facilities to young businesses and talented individuals. The Economy in Dubai is also doing well compared to other areas in the Middle East, hence you will find a lot of potential business opportunities, if your concept is strong enough and you are able to differentiate yourself.
As for wedding planning in specific, Dubai has over 100 nationalities living in it, which provides the opportunity to work with multiple nationalities and many cultures. For us, this is quite exciting as you are always learning and developing your knowledge and skills to meet all your clients’ requirements.
In your experience what are most couples looking for from the professionals they hire to work with them on their wedding? Is it creativity, professionalism, relief from the stress of planning their wedding? Something else, or all of those things?
It is definitely a combination. A Wedding Planner is initially hired to relive the Bride and Groom from the stress of planning the wedding, however you should be able to deliver creatively and with utmost professionalism for them to choose working with you. The planner becomes a trusted friend and should be able to guide them in all aspects related to their big day.
What about corporate clients? What do they most value about the service you provide?
With corporate clients, we find that the most important aspect is to understand the brand, it’s vision and mission. The planner should also be able to deliver on time and on budget, while remaining professional at all times.
What advice would you give to an aspiring Wedding/Event Planner, Stylist and Designer?
Always be true to yourself and to your style; clients appreciate that.
What are you most looking forward to about working in weddings and events over the coming year?
We are looking forward at Jive to grow the business in both the wedding and corporate divisions. We hope to execute more and more dreamlike and professional events in the coming years.
Finally Zeina, tell us what is that you hope to be able to offer your students as their tutor?
This is a very exciting opportunity for me as I would be able to pass the knowledge and skills gained in event management to students at the Arabian campus on AWEP. Having the regional experience will allow me to give insights related specifically to our markets and give them the information they need to work in this industry.