Master of Ceremonies

Donovan Gordon reveals the secrets to running a great event

Donovan Gordon, chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s (CCCJ) Maple Leaf Gala Committee, hails from Toronto and has lived in Japan for five years. As he explains, managing events runs in his family: his father introduced him to the business, giving him his start before he turned 15. So, it was only natural that about two years after moving to Japan, he launched his own company, Elites First, which offers private consulting and courses for luxury outlets, as well as event planning. Last year, the company handled 96 events.

Donovan Gordon

We sat down with Gordon late last year to talk about the secrets that every event planner needs to know and what we can expect for the Maple Leaf Gala in 2019.

What is the secret to planning an event?

Being relaxed and keeping morale up are the most important things, because people can get kind of nervous and stressed out. I remind people about the tasks that I’ve assigned them and help them stay focused on that. On the day of the event I move around, keep smiling and shaking hands with people. Everything is already done, and each person’s job becomes easier on the day of the event, because they don’t have to worry about controlling everything.

Why did you decide to join the CCCJ and what do you like most about it?

Well the main thing for me was that I wanted to be part of a community. I think a lot of people join chambers or committees because they want to improve their business or their network. For me it was strictly about making friends and being in a community — people I can depend on and go out with. That was my main reason for joining.

How did you come to be involved with the Maple Leaf Gala?

I attended the Maple Leaf Gala in 2017. I thought it was amazing, I thought it was fun and I thought it was something that the chamber should do more of — big events that bring people together. After it was finished, I went to a Hackathon and I met our chair from the CCCJ, and I told him what I did. And he said, “You know what? You’re going to be the chair for the event.” And it was as simple as that!

What are you most proud of regarding the 2018 Maple Leaf Gala?

The thing I’m most proud of is that everyone worked together with perfect cooperation. And the timing was on point. One of the problems you can often notice at events is that timing can be a big problem — speeches can run too long or performances can run too long, or meals come out late. But our timing was perfect. Speeches were on time; the MC was on time — everything from the food to the performances went perfectly.

Can you give us any hints about what to expect from the Maple Leaf Gala in 2019?

There is a lot to look forward to. The 2018 Maple Leaf Gala was big and it was good but 2019 will be on a completely different level. It is going to be bigger, better and more luxurious — I’ll give you that!

Is there anything you would like to tell readers of The Canadian?

One thing I want to say is that all Canadians and Japanese who support Canadians should come together without judgment or bias to just help each other. Of course, we make mistakes — everyone makes mistakes — but if we work together, we can solve anything and we can do anything. So, I want everyone to come to-gether to make something big — something that is ours — not like other chambers, but completely in our own image.

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