Point of View: Tim Owen

Tim Owen
Director at Major Impact City Events Limited

As part of our commitment to championing the industry, we are talking to people about their careers and what IEM means to them.

Tim Owen is the Founder and Director of ‘Major Impact City Events’.  He has over 30 years’ experience leading the collaboration and coordination of very large, cross agency event planning teams that oversee the use of public spaces and privately managed venues which have ensured the safe and successful conclusions of thousands of events for millions of people.  Amongst the events he has overseen are Live 8, Rugby and World Athletics Championships, the Central Zone of 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Pride, Notting Hill Carnival, two visits of le Tour de France to the UK, CHOGM and HM The Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees.  At some point during many forums and meetings just as consensus looks like it’s going to fail, it has been noted that he will point out: “The difference between an ‘ideal event plan’ and reality is that many spaces are not purpose built for hosting events and just because you would like people to behave in a certain way… they might not!”  A Chartered Architect since 1995, a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce since 1998, he was given a personal honour by HM The Queen at the rank of a Lieutenant of the Victorian Order in 2012.  Tim is also a director of Make It Blue, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to raising funds for mental health charities and particularly helping events’ industry people.  He loves helping to create safe, successful and spectacular events that capture millions of people’s imagination, creating lifelong memories.

Q How did you hear about the IEM?
A I have been watching the development of the IEM over many years.

Q What does the IEM mean to you?
A A place where all parts of our ‘events industry’ can come together in gaining wider recognition from the public and politicians for our skills and experience.  Somewhere to explain that the word ‘events’ can mean many different things, in many different places, needing very different approaches.

Q Why did you decide it was important for you to get involved?
A I’m fortunate to have had the opportunities to work with most parts of the UK events industry during my career which began in ceremonials and government conferences, through the London annual schedule and many ‘one off’ memorable occasions in the heart of our capital city.  It shouldn’t just be for these large events that we are known. The skills, experience and ‘process’ management is applicable from large gatherings to local community celebrations.  I want to share my thoughts and experiences to press for recognition that our abilities to ‘making things happen’ isn’t ‘magic’, but a series of  transferrable skills into and out of our industry.

Q Where do you hope to see the IEM in 20 years’ time?
A With a charter and royal patronage and as RIEM alongside architects, engineers, surveyors, accountants, doctors and nurses as a shaper of the national psyche.

Q What is your favourite event related memory?
A Memories are not singular for me, so I offer four that helped shape my understanding that its people that make events…
One: Leading the operational and safety planning for the Diamond Jubilee weekend with large numbers of people from diverse agencies brought together with a single aim was challenging, but created a common will to succeed that pretty much resolved anything and everything.
Two: Being asked to be in Chinese community photos after directing their parade.
Three: Convincing many organisations to collaborate with the organiser of the Sultan’s Elephant story telling on the streets of central London,    accommodating last minute adaption to street furniture to allow the enormous people powered ‘puppets’ to process around the West End and St James’s Park.  I still get people saying ‘do you remember…’ 16 years later.
Four: Learning in the aftermath of Millennium Eve “there is no accounting for the behaviour of the public”, “have faith that many do listen” and “always have a contingency plan in your back pocket”.