The E factor
E for entrepreneur meets E for events in an innovative educational (that’s another E) option in the Event Management Development Institute (EMDI), Dubai. The brainchild of three MBA college buddies, EMDI has taken wings in the emirate. Rajeev Nair has the details
A Void is a “lipogram,” a 300-page literary work by George Perec, which does not feature the letter, E. The French author couldn’t possibly have steered clear of the “e” in his name, which simply goes on to show that you can take “e” out of your novel but not out of your name.
Three MBA batchmates in India, however, found their calling in the world of E. And thus was born the Event Management Development Institute (EMDI), its Dubai campus ready to roll out 50 trained event personnel. E is big business in Dubai, and the “E for events, E for education” mantra has worked well for EMDI, which is helmed by founder and international operations director Nowshir Engineer (how’s that for the reach of E?) in Dubai.
Engineer is young and raring to go. Well, he has been going places – from the 120-students EMDI campus he first set up with his two partners in Mumbai to other Indian cities, Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad, and now Dubai. EMDI at Knowledge Village is completing one year and Engineer has given it the niche of an educational institution for event management training, which struck a chord among youngsters in the region.
Fifty aspiring event management professionals have completed their hands-on training and graduate in June. And Engineer is already looking at increasing the seats and enhancing EMDI’s faculty and internship facility network.
On the face of it, EMDI has a simple concept: Bring industry people into the training arena of event management. And it took three fresh MBAs to tap into it. The three were into diverse fields like education, corporate events and entertainment, when they had the brainwave to “provide structured training in events.”
“We realised that the best way to get into events was to actually get industry people come and lecture so that the industry practically supports the institute,” says Engineer. “Yes, Mumbai had places that groomed event management professionals but we were the first to follow a 100 per cent industry model.”
That meant creating a “strict programme that had lectures conducted by industry people,” he explains. “Secondly, we had already created a network with over 300 event companies that could use our students, who are trained to become event mangers, create concepts, ideas, executive marketing, raise funds and sponsorships, and execute events on the ground.”
The students were not simply trained for event agencies: “We had a huge area covering advertising agencies, shopping malls, hotels, television channels, radio, media houses – in short, everything that needed event mangers.”
It was a concept tailor-made for Dubai, which over the last five years or so has evolved as a key turf for event mangers cutting across show genres. Thus, EMDI, then a two-year-old enterprise in India, found its international footing in Knowledge Village, Dubai, in 2004.
Engineer says reaching out to Dubai took about one year of planning. “In India, it was easy to build on our network. Dubai, on the other hand, was new territory, and we also had to understand an international clientele.”
But once EMDI checked in, the opportunities simply seemed to fall in place. Events were flourishing in Dubai, and the students here had the advantage of working hands-on in world-class sporting and entertainment events. “Dubai has some unique concepts, the Dubai Shopping Festival and Global Village, for one. Here, we also have to prepare our students for the booming retail and mall sector while in India, the emphasis was more on entertainment, promotions and roadshows.”
More than 1,000 students have passed out of EMDI India says Engineer. The first 50 from Dubai will soon enter the industry. Though the minimum educational qualification for enrolling at EMDI is plus two, Engineer says the “basic degree is passion: Why do they want to be event managers? Do they have the required communication capability and ability to become one?”
The one-year programme with thrice weekly, two-hour sessions has been so structured to facilitate those who pursue other jobs or courses to avail of an educational opportunity that could see them rubbing shoulders with the stars from the glamour world. But then, the first lesson they learn would be “demystify the glamour element.”
Engineer says that in Dubai too the course is conducted through industry people – from event agencies, and advertising, media and entertainment professionals. Apart from interning with several agencies regionally, the first batch of students have already worked on prestigious events like the Dubai World Cup, Global Indian Film Awards, Temptations, Dubai Tennis, Asian Bollywood Music Award, Rugby 7, and a lot more.
“The organisers are happy to hire our students because they get people who are not only trained for the job but are also passionate and keen to make a career in the industry,” says Engineer.
The EMDI advantage, he explains, is that the “students are short-circuited to know better about the industry; they know what to anticipate, they know the pitfalls and by the time they pass out, they have actual experience learnt from the industry people.”
It isn’t easy to be event managers, he observes. “You must be a people person with an ability to handle a lot of stress. You have to co-ordinate it all but nothing is directly under you. If anything goes wrong, you take the flak. You must multi-task and work long hours.”
Despite it all, the profession attracts more girls than boys. Engineer isn’t surprised because that has been the case in India too. “Girls believe they are better in creativity and are well-planned when it comes to the details. And anyway it is said that a homemaker is the best event manager.”
Finally, when it comes to events, those who thrive under pressure are the ones who will triumph. And that takes us to the final “e” element: Enthusiasm. It has no short-cut, no learning alternative. This E must come from within, perhaps, your “Ego.”
Caption: Nowshir Engineer