Lizzy Eaton, Director of Oddity Events & Marketing

The FF15 Sheroes are people who inspire us with their strength, ambition and fearlessness. This month, we’ve honoured Lizzy Eaton, Director of Oddity Events & Marketing, as our Shero. Lizzy has over a decade of experience within the events industry, and is celebrating the 5 year anniversary of Oddity Events.

Give me a sapshot of you, your career, and Oddity Events

I spent my first few years trying to find my feet within the events industry, sidestepping in different roles to really find what I was passionate about. I started as an event and marketing assistant at a medical association doing large conferences and training workshops. After that, I went on to work at Informa Group where I delivered much bigger conferences and massive exhibitions.

5 or 6 years into my careers, I found a job at a small communications agency called Portland, which specialised in public affairs, strategy communications and reputation management for some of the most recognised corporate clients you can think of – and they didn’t have an events team! Over five years, I built the commercial events operating from the ground up and built a small team. By the end, I was Head of Events and Marketing and creating a great turnover for the business.

At this point in my career, I loved it but it was very intense, and I thought “I could probably do this for me”. I started Oddity Events in 2018, and a year and a half later I hired my first two team members. It’s our 5th birthday on the 1st of June and we are now flying!

You’re at the 5-year mark for Oddity Events now. What have been the highlights?

Some of the pinch me moments have been winning jobs in different countries. Being able to go off to Nashville on a site inspection a couple of weeks ago, I thought to myself “this proper, you know, this is a real thing”.

Another would be from a strategy day with the new team members in August. When I was talking about the business and the growth of it, and the kind of vision I have for it. I felt so proud of the graft I’ve put in, but also that I’ve been able to recruit some amazing young women to come with me on this journey. Part of my role is not just to be making money, it’s about nurturing and shaping them.

What’s happening next at Oddity?

We’re moving! We have a new office which is near Oxford Circus, it’s exciting and a glow up moment for us. We’re stepping into our fifth year with the view of being perceived as a more polished, mature agency that’s found its feet in the landscape.

You describe yourself as a “David Bowie Idoliser”. How has he inspired you?

My dog is called Ziggy and I named my business after Space Oddity. If I can do anything to fit more David Bowie into my life, then I’ll try. I think he’s such a pioneer and everything that he was about, he didn’t want to fit into the mould.

I like the idea that you can reinvent yourself and go “OK, I think that era of my life is over, I’m going to try an fashion a new era for myself”. I think that’s what I did by starting Oddity, I could have just kept hopping around roles and feeling a bit unfulfilled. But I didn’t and it work out.

You’ve been a huge advocate for accessibility in events. What do you still think needs ot be done and where do you think people need to be focusing their efforts?

It’s frustrating for me because I’ve been speaking about accessibility and event design since I started Oddity. I’ve always been passionate about this and now I’ve got a bit of a platform I wanted to speak out about it more. But, I tend to be having the same conversations every year when I speak at conferences. It tends to be always about getting the basics right. There is still more to be done.

Are we building these consideration when the newly qualified event professionals enter the industry? We need to create learning modules at the very early stage of their careers, rather than having planners relearn their whole planning process when they become more senior. It takes a lot for somebody to adjust their planning process in order to make the inclusivity of an event more appropriate. Training in the early stages is critical.

Many people in the industry will make that move from working for somebody else to going freelance or starting their own agency. What’s your advice to somebody looking to go out on their own?

My advice would be to have a firm grip on what your niche is. In the beginning, I was accepting every job that was going – and some of them were dire. It took me a little while to really establish a niche.

I would also say there’s no such thing as failing backwards. Like every time you fail, you learn. You are one step closer to your goal because you’re knowing how to do thinks differently every time. If something doesn’t quite go to plan, don’t take it to heart. There’s a motivational speech by Denzel Washington where he says ‘there’s no such thing as failing backwards. You can only fail forwards because you’re just learning so much’.

As a female event industry leader, what’s your advice to new talent today?

If you’re not sure which path you want to take in the industry, know that there is no rush to be promoted or not to be. In order to learn, sometimes you just need to slow down and take it all in. In the middle of my career, I was obsessed with being promoted which made it harder for me because I wasn’t focusing on what really was important and it became a bit of a barrier at one point. Think about your own development, not just the job title.

Do you have any quotes that motivate you?

I love this quote which I got from Juliet Tripp, it’s on all of my notebooks. “You choose how you show up”