Today we’d like to introduce you to Jaka Jaiteh.
Jaka, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I studied International Tourism and Event Management at the European Business College in Hamburg, Germany, where I was born and raised by my German mom and Gambian dad. Part of my three-year program was an internship and a semester abroad which brought me to the United States. During that time, I did a three-month internship with AOO Events over the summer of 2012 and then went to New York City to do a semester at Berkeley College in Manhattan for four months.
After graduating and getting my bachelor’s degree in 2013, I was offered a job by AOO Events. It’s always been my dream to live in Los Angeles so I jumped at the opportunity. I packed my bags and a couple of months later, started working for AOO Events beginning of 2014.
I started as a production assistant and after observing and learning from other producers on the team, as well as David Merrell, the company’s owner and CEO, I eventually started running my own small events. I’ve since worked my way up to become the Senior Event Producer. I now handle multiple accounts and clients and travel all over the United States producing exciting events.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Moving across the world alone was difficult. Leaving all my family and friends behind and not really knowing many people in Los Angeles was definitely tough and I was lonely at times. But I quickly met some amazing people and built great friendships here. I am not going to lie … I still get homesick sometimes.
Moving to work in a country that you are not a citizen was a struggle as well. But it was very important that I do everything by the book. It took a lot of meeting with lawyers, paperwork and time and patience so I can come and go between the United States and Germany.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
AOO Events is a creative agency that has been working with international corporate brands since 1989 and has won many awards for design and production. The company’s amazing events are the reason I wanted to be here. As a Senior Event Producer, I’ve been able to be produce major multi-day events and brand activations that have taken place all over the United States. As a team, we take on corporate meetings, summits, conferences and retreats, Hollywood premieres, Super Bowl events, product launches and everything from small dinner parties for brand influencers to producing a private concert for a corporate brand.
I’m very proud of my success in a niche industry where one needs a multi-faceted skillset. For instance, in a week I might be working with a series of creatives such as lighting designers and artists, plotting a layouts, figuring out logistics, sourcing hotels and event sites, writing proposals, even traveling to the event site beforehand which might require me to fly in and out of a city in a day. And then once the event is in motion, I’m on-site with my team overseeing all the logistics to see an event through from beginning to end. The hours are long and the work is detailed and I love it all. You could say multi-tasking is my forte! I am proud of myself for taking a chance, leaving my home and family and moving to Los Angeles to build my career. As I go forward, I hope to be a mentor to other young women who, like me, see the all the amazing possibilities that exist for us – we just need to believe in ourselves and take that leap!
What were you like growing up?
As long as I can remember, and my Mom can confirm this, I was a very open, kind, loving, goofy and outgoing kid. I have always been very persistent and determined when I set my mind to something. I worked hard for what I wanted and didn’t stop until I had it. Music was one of my main interests growing up and still is to this day. I began playing African drums in a group at a very young age. I also took up African dancing, ballet and sang in a choir. As a teenager, my girlfriends and I even formed our own musical group. We would cover songs and choreograph moves to go with them. I had a lot of small stage appearances throughout my childhood.
Although music didn’t end up being my career path, I like to think that it gave me a lot of self-confidence and made me believe in myself and in anything I want to do. If there was something I wanted to do, I’d always approach it very strategically. I would make a detailed plan, list action items, create a budget and allot time for the best and most effective way to achieve my goal. It turned out I was very good at organizing and began to take a particular interest in event planning. I loved the diversity within the job itself. Even though the basics and the process may be similar, every event is different and each brings a new set of challenges and objectives.
My passion for events grew as I got older and by the time I finished high school, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Funny, in my high school yearbook my answer to the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” was “A successful event planner in Los Angeles.” And here I am today!
- Address: AOO Events, Inc.
5850 W Third Street, Suite 350
Los Angeles, CA 90036
- Website: www.aooevents.com
- Phone: 323.467.2111
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @jaka_jaiteh & @aooevents
- Facebook: facebook.com/aooevents
- Twitter: @AOOevents
California Wedding Day – Brian Leahy, Intercontinental: Maya Myers Photography, Pre-OscarSistah Soiree – Getty Images