CKO: These Pakistani 'Event-Planners' are KILLING IT with their 'Event Architecture'
Contributed By: Waleed Malik
Q:Please tell us about CKO Event Architecture? What inspired you to start an event management company?
A:CKO Event Architecture is a multidisciplinary design practice. Event management is a part of what we do. Over the years we have worked on architecture projects, interior design, furniture and accessories, film, art exhibits, advertisement campaigns and much more. We function almost like a think Tank or concept capsule.
We are not afraid to explore new avenues and interests and combine them with our existing body of work to come up with entirely new perspectives and approaches. An event management company speeded up the process and allowed us to dabble and explore our wide range of interests because events are quick paced and could keep up with our pace as opposed to other business where in order to introduce a new concept or feature it needs to pass through a very lengthy process.
Q:How have your personal strengths helped CKO earn a name in the industry?
A:Our backgrounds are in design. I am an architect by profession where as Sara is a communication designer, Aslam is the binding force behind CKO who is able to take an idea from the drawing board stage and bring it to reality. This combination allows us to look at things in a wide array of perspectives and is the reason where we are constantly in a stage of development. I see it as the main reason which set us apart from other event managers or designers. We not only have the capability to envision new concepts but the means to bring it into reality due to our extensive experience in construction and production.
Q:What kind events do you guys like to manage? Best moment of CKO so far?
A:We have grown over the years. We like designing and managing events where the client has as open a mind as we do about design. However we have come to a stage where we have become our own clients. The Karachi Eat is an example of such an event. Conceptualized, designed, produced and managed by us. This is our favourite type of event where we have complete control and the final word. We have had many best moments over the years where we have gained both local and international recognition for our work.
However our favourite moment would definitely be when people come to us during the Karachi and Lahore Eat festivals and bless us with prayers and are so grateful for bringing together an event which inspires so much hope in our city and country. Even if it just for a few days.
Q:Karachi Eat, is entering its 4th round next year. How did the journey start? Any surprises coming our way on it this year?
A:The Journey started very simply with an idea. Not a business idea but an idea to give back and do our part in some way. Food was just an excuse.
We wanted to bring people together and make it as inclusive as possible and we wanted a chance to revive our public spaces around the city. This has been what we have worked towards in all our events. Every year we try and bring a new surprise to the Karachi and Lahore Eat. This year we are introducing a number of features such as the online payment system for visitors as well as an attempt to break a few records and bring us into the Guinness book of world records.
Q:What has been the biggest challenge you faced so far in bringing the Eat festival to Lahore?
A:I would say the fact that we were unfamiliar with the city. When you setup a festival which has taken on an iconic nature and is very clear in its objectives there is always the fear of it losing that meaning, especially when you are trying to replicate it. However we are very grateful and happy that we found likeminded people in Lahore and partnered with them for the Lahore Eat festival.
Q:What is a typical work day like for you?
A:I wish we could say that we start the work day early but that just isn’t possible. Individually we start our days at 7, however by the time office is functioning it’s 10:30, which is normal for event companies due to the late hours that the entire team is used to. Meetings with clients take up a major portion of the day and discussions on new projects and concepts.
Toward the end of the day which is usually around 7pm we focus on the more mundane yet necessary part of running an office, the day to day accounts and internal matters. In busy season we are out of office and at venues till 4 or 5 am. We are hardly ever away from the venue once the production work starts on site. Unlike other businesses we do not leave it to managers or on ground technical teams. We are very hands on and make it a point to go over all details personally.
Q:Event management can be stressful, what is your favorite way to unwind?
A:We look forward to the weekends when we can come home, make some popcorn, put on a movie and just spend some quality time with our families.
Q:Event management/architecture industry in Pakistan has seen a tremendous growth in last couple of years. Do you feel it still has the potential to grow more? And what role CKO will play in leading this industry?
A:Any field will always grow if the leaders in the industry are passionate about what they do. Sadly that is rare in our country. Besides CKO there are a very few companies out there who take an active interest in developing or growing the industry.
Unfortunately the industry has grown slowly in terms of technology, design, productions process, etc. It has grown tremendously in the sense that there have been many fly by night companies that have sprouted up because they are attracted to the quick monetary benefits which the industry offers. However they seem to lose steam and vanish just as quickly as they appear. We have been in the industry for over 10 years now and have had the pleasure of working in an environment which has welcomed change with open arms. Thankfully it continues to do so and that has kept us fresh, passionate and hungry. We are constantly evolving and I feel that we have already managed to change the face of events in Pakistan. The sky is the limit and CKO intends to explore it and push it to the maximum.
Q:Any advice for people who want to enter event management?
A:Have clear objectives. Do not enter the field just with the intent to make money. That will fade away very soon. If you are not passionate about design and creating new experiences for people then you will not go far.
So be clear with why you are entering the event business and be prepared for stress, late nights and disappointment but if you make it past all that it is worth it!
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