Blog: My Event World - Nicky Havelaar

Nicky Havelaar established Crown in 1993 and has since navigated the events company through buy-outs and acquisitions as managing director. She talks to Event about working in China, championing the sector and her love of high places.

Nicky Havelaar, managing director of Crown
Nicky Havelaar, managing director of Crown

I got into the event industry by accident. A friend of a friend’s brother needed someone to help on an Austin Rover photo-shoot. The company was Caribiner. Once the shoot was over, Tina Duffy asked me if I would like to join their new intake as production assistant. I wasn’t planning anything else so I said yes. 

It was an eye-opener – coming from the BBC I thought that was the ‘be and end all’ of communications and entertainment in terms of media and I had never heard of live events in a business context. A whole new world opened up to me.

I have worked here since 1984.

I was attracted to this particular role because it allowed me to learn quickly and create my own destiny. 

Not many people know that the principal killer of elephants in American zoos is obesity.

The best event Ive been involved in was SABMiller Shanghai. Brand new client, brand new location, a real adventure: it was the first time business advertising was allowed on the Aurora tower in Pudong to show a 25 by 50 metre "Welcome to SABMiller" delegate sign, readable from across the river on the Bund. It turned a derelict industrial site into an "Urban Unzipped" experience for our delegates. It was simply awesome. 

If I could do it all over again, I would have pursued a career as a jockey or trained as a concert pianist.

The one thing I can’t stand is intolerance.

Outside of work I spend my time training polar bears to juggle and flying eagles. No not really, although I have done the latter. I love hills and mountains and I spend as much time as possible at the highest place I can find.  

I like having an overview. Perhaps it is to do with coming from the lowlands where the horizon is unimpeded by hills. 

If money were no object then none of us would need it. Interesting concept though.

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be no one.

If I ruled the event industry I would focus on getting our sector recognised for its expertise and the value this brings.

Want to be featured in a future My Event World? Email associate editor Alison Ledger for further details.

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