Olivia Robinson is a native Londoner and English speaker.
She joined zkipster as the first client-facing hire – Head of Client Relations for EMEA – in 2016, ascended to Global Head of Client Relations in 2019, and was promoted to Chief Revenue Officer in 2021.
Olivia, tell us about your career before you arrived at zkipster.
“After studying Politics and International Relations at Cardiff University, my first job was in Asset Servicing for an American bank. I was based in Brussels (I picked up some Dutch while I was there) and I’ve always loved politics (in another life I’d be a diplomat), but banking wasn’t for me.
“My other loves are art, culture and events, so my next role was a dream come true: volunteer and workforce management for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. I oversaw and project managed tech infrastructure and volunteers – from results, timing and scoring to ensuring that staff were trained, uniformed and deployed correctly – for four venues: the ExCel center, the O2, Greenwich Park and the Royal Artillery Barracks; homes to Olympic boxing, gymnastics, basketball and taekwondo, to name a few! Being exposed to such perfectly-run events on such a vast scale was an incredible experience, and I met so many wonderful people.
The Olympics were hard to top, but from there I joined London’s iconic Victoria and Albert Museum to organize and run every aspect of their special events, from fundraisers to opening galas to royal and VIP visits for the likes of Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, and two busloads of Chinese government officials! I’d always wanted to be part of the art world – I almost went to art college as a student and took a History of Art course during lockdown – so the V&A was the absolute pinnacle for me. In particular working on the Alexander McQueen ‘Savage Beauty’ (where Kate Moss performed a specially-choreographed dance at the after party) and ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibitions (where Tilda Swinton celebrated her friend with a personal poem and Bowie himself came for a secret visit with his wife, Iman).”
“With her drive, attention to detail and expertize running special events for one of the most prestigious addresses in the arts world – she was one of our earliest clients prior to joining zkipster herself – Olivia has brought client focus right to the heart of our business.”
DANIEL DESSAUGES | CEO | ZKIPSTER
Tell us about your role at zkipster.
“I brought zkipster to the V&A, and loved using the product as an event planner. After the V&A I had a short spell running events at London’s Covent Garden, but I had been talking to (zkipster CEO) Daniel for a while about a potential role, and in 2016 the time was right for me to join.
“I oversee Client Relations (sales development, sales and account management, customer success and support) and Marketing. At zkipster we approach our clients with transparency and a white glove, personalized approach wherever possible, as my team (many of whom also have first-hand event planning experience) and I are acutely aware of the challenges of making great events a success.
“We recently reworked our company values at my instigation, adding a Culture and Sustainability strand. I’m currently working on our Climate Neutral certification for 2021 and assessing how we can further reduce our footprint as well as offsetting our emissions – it’s a learning area for me and one that I’m passionate about. I’m keen to demonstrate externally how zkipster is internally: an ethical, honest company that works hard to gain the trust of its clients and wants to do the right thing by them as well as the planet.”
What’s the best thing about working at zkipster?
“Experiencing the international viewpoint on special events. I find it truly fascinating to see how different planners use their different cities, landmarks, cultures, talent and even weather to create unique and memorable events. I love events and making them come to life, and although I no longer plan them myself I love that I’m still part of the process.”
“Having been an event planner at the highest level, Olivia knows exactly where our product can add the most value. It is really useful to count on such an insightful colleague to help us identify customer needs and drive the best roadmap possible.“
DÉCIO SOUSA | CTO | ZKIPSTER
What are the most memorable events you’ve been part of?
“For zkipster, it was working at the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony when the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons won in 2017. John Legend performed Bob Marley’s Redemption Song and a survivor of the Nagasaki nuclear attack recounted her experience to educate the world on the danger of nuclear weapons. It was so powerful: an incredibly prestigious, beautifully-organized gala with a serious message, demonstrating how events can convey such meaning. I’ll always remember it.
“A highlight from the V&A was being present the day Joey the horse was “retired” from the West End play War Horse. He came in for a press call with his puppeteers and took a tour of the museum before heading to his new home in the Theater & Performance galleries – it was magical.
“At London 2012 I organized and project managed a marathon test event that simulated and tested every detail in advance of the real thing. It was the very first test event for the London Olympics and was a huge success, despite a 2am start for the volunteers and I! Speaking of volunteers, I was asked to put forward a couple to speak to a BBC presenter live on camera for the closing ceremony. They’d all been amazing that I couldn’t pick just two, so all 35 volunteers working that day joined her for the countdown to the ceremony and got to have an “I’m on TV!” moment.”
In honor of International Women’s Day, describe the women who have inspired you.
“First and foremost, the amazing ladies here at zkipster, who inspire me every day, as well as all the female event planners that I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. In general I’m inspired by women who hold their own and stay true to their beliefs, especially where they might be in the minority: political players like Jacina Ardern and Angela Merkel as well as Sheryl Sandberg. The designers Phoebe Phlio and Sarah Burton, who have both blazed huge fashion trails but done so seemingly without ego. I was lucky enough to meet Sarah when I was at the V&A, and she has managed to emulate Alexander McQueen’s work and craftsmanship but make it her own.”