CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

When life is the main event

By Stephanie Wei
Special to The Toronto Sun

Interested in a career where every weekend is a whirlwind of non-stop blowout parties? Want to rub elbows with celebrities, politicians and business leaders?
Event planners Jian Magen (left) and his twin brother Page, right, founders of Magen Boys High Energy Entertainment, pose with former professional wrestler Mick "Mankind" Foley at a wrestling extravaganza they orgranized.

That's the fantasy many people have about being an event planner. The reality is that it takes hard work, long hours and an obsessive attention to detail.

"You always have to be on your toes," says Jian Magen, an up-and-coming name in event planning. "You have to always be there for your clients."

Jian and his twin brother Page run Magen Boys High Energy Entertainment, a company that provides entertainment and event services for Bar Mitzvahs, corporate functions and school events. Along with traditional services such as deejays, live music and lighting, Magen Boys also puts on live wrestling events featuring new stars and legends of professional wrestling.

They have produced their unique brand of high-spirited entertainment for clients including IBM, Rogers Communications, and various colleges and universities.

"We service our clients from beginning to end," Magen says. "We act not only as the entertainment, but also as consultants. We love what we do, and everyone who works for us loves what they do."
Krista Slack + Associates designed and constructed the Molson Case Top Patio as part of a promotion for the 2001 Molson Indy.

A passion for the industry is also important to Krista Slack, founder of Krista Slack+Associates. One of Canada's top event producers, Slack has produced the Marketing Awards, Fashion Cares and Molson Indy events. Slack maintains a high level of enthusiasm and dedication to her job.

"I love that it's creatively challenging," Slack says. "It's very rewarding when clients have new ideas and you can help them take it to the next level."

Typically, an event planner is involved in the creative, organization, logistics and protocol aspects. Companies can benefit from the knowledge, contacts and skills an event professional brings to the process.

"The external event partner can bring design/decor, technical and/or multimedia production and entertainment value to the overall project," Slack says.
Are you interested in becoming an event planner? The experts offer these tips:

"Assess your talents and capabilities," Krista Slack says. "There are so many different kinds of events. You should think about your background. Ask yourself, 'Do I have the skills and experience?' The number one thing you can do is volunteer. You get to try different things, see what event planning all about, and you have something you can put on your resume."

Rob Gray recommends doing research on the industry. "Find out about the school programs, talk to an industry professional. Come out to association meetings that best fit what you want to do."

Attitude really can be everything, in some cases. "When you're starting out, it can be 10% actual experience, and 90% attitude," Slack says. "As long as you have common sense, good communications skills, and a want-to-learn attitude, the other skills can be picked up on the job."

As Jian Magen puts it, "When you've got it, you've got it. As long as you love what you do, you're going to be successful at it."

To Rob Gray, president of the International Special Events Society's (ISES) Toronto chapter, the most important issue right now is promoting event management as a profession.

"Association involvement is the key to success of the industry," Gray says. "As everyone becomes involved, it improves the profession as a whole."

Event professionals can be certified through ISES as a Certified Special Event Professional, or through Meeting Professionals International as a Certified Management Professional. Both designations involve a rigorous application process involving a point system based on education, experience and industry involvement, followed by a lengthy written examination.

The industry is still new. In the last few years, several GTA colleges have launched event management programs, such as Humber College's certificate of specialization in special event management, and the Ryerson University/George Washington University event management program. These programs can offer a basic foundation in a broad range of events.

(Write Toronto-based freelancer Stephanie Wei at (

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