After Runway 2.0, Asia’s largest fashion and technology conference, we caught up with its event organiser, Jonathan Wong. Jon is Head of VLT Community, a new division of award-winning digital marketing agency VLC. We asked him a dozen questions on what life is like in his pond, and he candidly shared with us his experience organising Runway 2.0, challenges faced, and even his secret sauce to scheduling time to juggle the many aspects of event organising!
What sets VLT’s independent agency apart from the rest: “Although we’re a digital award winning industry agency, we are an independent agency, so we’re not as well-funded as bigger players in the scene. We have to be different and agile. So instead of standing out from the crowd, we decided to throw community-centric events to build and connect the crowd together instead. We want to facilitate conversations over drinks and food, and to have a more serendipitous vibe to our events.”
How Runway 2.0 events came about: “We strongly feel that wearables and the Internet of things is a trend that isn’t likely to die anytime soon, and we really wanted to bring about conversations relating to fashion tech. My strengths are in marketing, project management, and events. I inherited this project from other directors, because we do a lot of things in the CEO’s Office. To me, being in the CEO Office team of six people feels like being ‘gladiators’ to the CEO very much like in the TV show Scandal. I am strongly interested in fashion too, so going into Runway 2.0 was quite natural for me because I had the resources and the network. I wanted Runway 2.0 to be an avenue to provide key insights, an educational platform for people who want to get into the fashion industry, and people who want to create IT solutions for the fashion scene.”
How his experience lead him to Peatix: “One of the members in the CEO Office came to work one morning raving about Peatix and how much potential it had for our events. At the time I was trying to get partners for Runway 2.0, so Peatix came in at the right time for us. They were also quite new then and felt like natural partners for us moving forward, and growing together on our own adventures. As soon as Peatix became our online ticketing partner, we haven’t used any other event ticketing system since.”
Behind the scenes of Jon Wong: “I try to schedule all my meetings on one day of the week, but otherwise I’m pretty flexible. I’m an early riser. I try to model myself after some American CEOs because I read that they wake up at 5am to work too. I used to have a ritual of sleeping at 9pm and waking up at 4am to work. Even my CEO thinks it’s weird. After awhile I realised I feel like quite an uncle sleeping so early, so I’m trying to change that and other parts of my life too. In my free time, I like reading articles on LinkedIn, or go to the gym while thinking about which strategic partnerships to form next. I’m 28 now, and although I love events, I see myself moving into general management and operations in the future.
One good habit Jon wishes he could’ve formed earlier: “I would have learned about finance sooner, so it wouldn’t be on my mind so much. I learned basic finance knowledge on my own and I wish I could have absorbed it in a more systematic way like in school for four years. Now that I see every event as a ‘baby company’ (with marketing, logistic, design, and finance teams), I realise finance is a large chunk of information I wish I grappled earlier.”
One hobby Jon picked up that turned into a valuable skill in work: “I loved drawing on my own since I was young. I taught myself Adobe Photoshop as well. When I ran events I enjoyed doing the graphics on my own— figuring out the aesthetics, collateral, and visuals. The visual part of things really helps with branding. I like using design to create a sense of luxury, especially now that I’m working more in fashion tech.”
Learning from challenges in organising events: “The biggest learning point for me in my entire career is communication. I am still learning from this, even during Runway 2.0. Communication should be very clear, so everyone is on the same page. And if our communication is strong, we could even have focused more on pre-event communication leading up to the event, especially in print magazines because they close each month’s issue three months ahead. The second biggest challenge that comes to mind is time management!”
Last words: “For all future event organisers out there, I wish you all the best! It’s not an easy thing to pull off on a large scale but if your work is good and your team is good, people will always find value in what you do and take back value with them after every event.”
There are many quotable quotes on event organising to be gleaned off Jon’s interview! How have you too built a community using events?
Edited by: Claire Ding