Being in the military – no matter where you are – means being involved in planning and executing complex operations.  So it’s no surprise that I first discovered my calling as an event planner during my time in National Service. Military Service is a mandatory requirement of all Singaporeans regardless of religious background, ethnicity, or gender when they reach the age of 18. The lessons learnt from my two years completing Military Service have been invaluable to me as an event planner.  Here’s why. 

The first two weeks of military training was tough. We spent every day confined in the camp learning how to build teamwork which was my first lesson in how to successfully run an event. 

Three months of basic military training passed so fast. Upon graduation, I was deployed to ‘The Combat Intelligence Logistics Unit’. My role was stocktaking, and organizing military events. I realise now that organizing military events is not much different to organizing business events, the focus is making sure people are taken care of and safety of all is a priority. One unforgettable event I helped to plan was a military field event in Taiwan in 2012. The whole exercise lasted 21 days. With limited resources, I single-handedly organised all the logistics including catering, rooms and venue setup for 100+ personnel.

The work was hard and the hours were long. I remember looking forward to stopping by the local 7-11 store to buy an ice-cold Slurpee to cool myself down in the 36-degree heat. There are always ups and downs, moments when you are far away from home, and miss your family and friends. However, I’m pleased to report that it was a successful event and as a reward, we got a complimentary short break to explore Taipei. Through this experience, I learned so much in terms of how to successfully plan, manage, and execute a large scale event. As an event planner, the most anticipated reward was the satisfaction of each event successfully completed and the smile from your client and gratitude for your hard work and a job done well.

In summary – here’s the top four things that National Service taught me about organising events: 

Stay organised

You’ll always see event planners running around with never-ending checklists, to-do lists and itineraries; it’s lucky your natural ability for organising will really help you out here!

Venue Contract

Be Creative

Being able to come up with new and fun ideas for your clients will encourage them to stay loyal and use your services again and again. With your natural creative ability, you’ll get to infuse passion, imagination and originality into each of the events you design. Be prepared to brainstorm some cutting-edge ideas, delve into online webinars and Linkedin to keep up to date  on the latest industry ideas that you can share with your clients.

Always maintain attention to detail

Event planners need to keep client timelines on schedule, budgets in check and any other details flowing smoothly. So, whether it’s arranging travel, catering or just selecting the perfect napkin rings for a dinner party, giving each element the attention it deserves will help you to be super successful in this career!

Managing an Event

Image Credit: ASMI

Time management

Finally, as an events planner, you’ll need to manage your time to meet deadlines, schedule deliveries and arrange meetings and of course all of these need to be arranged on-time! Having a certain logic and order to your planning will help you keep your colleagues informed, attend appointments and ensure that important information and documents are organised and sent efficiently.