Auckland Live Staff Spotlight: Simon Dobson-McRae

Auckland Live Staff Spotlight

Manager of Event Planning

Published: Thursday 4 July 2024


Auckland Live just turned 10! As we mark a decade of bringing the city performing arts and events to create memories that last a lifetime, we will be highlighting the journeys of some of our amazing staff behind the curtain who make the magic happen. 

This week we meet Simon Dobson-McRae

Introduce yourself and your role at Auckland Live 
I'm Simon, the Manager of Event Planning. I've been at Auckland Live for just over 9 years in various roles.   


What does your job entail?   
I manage a team of seven Event Planners who are specialised in live events, keeping oversight of roughly 800 events delivered by Auckland Live. This includes Risk Assessment, Security Planning and Management, Event Financials, Creating Traffic Management Plans and ensuring logistically events come and go from our venues seamlessly. 

I also hold close stakeholder relationships with our external event security provider, St. John, Auckland Transport, NZ Police, key internal stakeholders and key operational personnel at annual festivals held in Auckland Live venues. These include Auckland Arts Festival & Auckland Writers Festival to name a few.  


Paint a picture of a ‘day in the life’ in your role as the Manager of Event Planning 
My days vary so much, no day is the same. Mostly it involves sitting with Event Planners and working through their events, attending lots of project meetings which usually relate to business improvement, multiple stakeholder meetings and taking clients around site visits in all our venues. In between all of this, I’m filtering through the emails (If I get the chance to!).  


What’s your favourite thing about you? 
My adaptability in all situations, ability to deal with others' needs and quickly respond, as needed, to unexpected and serious situations.  


What’s the hardest thing about what you do?   
The hardest thing, but also the reason why I love my job, is the curveballs clients send our way and then navigating that through legislation, public safety, risk assessment, whether logistically it can feasibly happen and finding a solution that benefits all parties. These are a few of the questions fired my way on a day-to-day basis: 

“Can I shoot pyro in the Great Hall over patrons and do it close to some pretty combustible heritage wood?”  
“Can I shoot lasers into the sky which has eight different flight zones, one being the New Zealand Navy?”  
“Can I shut down Queen Street, which will disrupt the entire city's transport network, just to get 700 PAX into the Aotea Centre from their hotel?”  

I did simplify their words a little, but you get the point, and the list is endless!  


What has been a highlight or special memory for you in your job at Auckland Live?   
So many to choose from! The one that comes to mind is the planning and delivery of the FIFA Draw in 2022. It took so much in-depth planning (more than any other event) that required many late nights at the office, literally hundreds of site visits, and 17 to 20-hour working days during the pack-in and event day. It was tiring, but seeing the result of my work was so satisfying. 

It was broadcast to over 1.5 billion people around the globe – it was a great example of what our teams at Auckland Live are capable of, that we are the best at what we do and helped showcase what Auckland could offer to the world. 

Shows and events Simon is looking forward to

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