Posts in staff

December 4th, 2012  |  Filed under News

Burning Man Hires Event Operations Director

I am excited to announce the hiring of Charlie Dolman, who very soon will assume the role of Event Operations Director for the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City.

Charlie Dolman at Burning Man 2012

In this capacity, Charlie will oversee and direct event operations and logistics, and will play a major role in strategic planning to ensure the long-term success of the Burning Man event. Among other responsibilities, Charlie will oversee management of BRC event-specific departments, including Emergency Services Department, Department of Public Works, Community Services, Playa Safety Council, Art, and Café/Ice. He will also be a member of the Budget Committee, provide leadership to the Operations Team and serve on Burning Man’s Executive Committee.

A native of London, England, Charlie comes to us with 17 years of event-production experience, 12 of which he spent producing events of all sizes across Europe and the UK (and one in Zambia!). He co-founded and later served as Financial Director of The Secret Garden Party, an annual music and entertainment festival with 30,000 attendees. Charlie has extensive event-related experience in project management, logistics, safety, licensing, marketing, budgeting, crises management, and managing and developing teams. Most recently, he served as Projects Director for the MAMA Group.

Charlie first traveled to the playa in 2006 and has hasn’t missed a Burn since. He co-ran a camp on the Esplanade (The Flying Monkey Pub) his first year and has been instrumental in the leadership of several large-scale communal camps: The Untied Nations Embassy, the UnNatural History Museum, Burningdales, HMS XS, and in 2012, Terminal Y. Charlie is deeply committed to the 10 Principles and enthusiastic about this opportunity to facilitate their manifestation in Black Rock City and beyond.

We greatly look forward to working with Charlie, so please join us in welcoming him!

November 17th, 2012  |  Filed under News

Burning Man’s 2012 Staff Retreat

Burning Man Founders give their report-out at the annual Staff Retreat.

Last week, 60 Burning Man staffers got together for our annual Staff Retreat, an intensive 4-day offsite gathering wherein we examine the state of Burning Man (the event itself, our organization, and the worldwide growth of our culture). We examine where we stand, where we want to be, and how to get there.

This has been an annual tradition since 1999, when the meeting consisted of a small handful of folks. And while it has taken different shapes and forms over the years, this time is used to look at the challenges we’re facing, the successes we’ve achieved, and the goals we want to shoot for. We also bring in experts to help us develop the skills we need to succeed as an organization. And let me tell you, the work is practically non-stop. The group hardly ‘retreats’ from Burning Man; in reality we collectively dive even deeper into the work we do and the roles we play.

Walking through Burning Man’s history of staff trainings since 2001.

This year there were extensive discussions around growth … what challenges come along with the growth of both the Burning Man community and the Burning Man organization, and how can we manage them? What kind of pressures are the various Burning Man departments facing as a result of this growth? How can we work better collectively to address them? What leadership skills can we bring to the table to ensure that we deal with them effectively?

The group engaged in activities to help us deliver quality feedback to our co-workers, skill-building sessions to help us make better decisions, and opportunities to evaluate how we’re measuring up against our 5-year goals (and 3-year goals, and 1-year goals). We read feedback emails from participants about this year’s event in Black Rock City and discussed strategies for making improvements.

Megan reading through the Participant Feedback binder.

These discussions are always rewarding, but the best work is arguably done in the evening hours after long, full days of work sessions.  That’s when we’re able to connect with our fellow staffers, learn more about each other and what makes us tick, and build the bonds that allow us to work so well together … the connections which make us as much a family as we are a business.

Of course, being the Burners that we are, the evenings were peppered with impromptu bonfires, musical performances, storytelling sessions, irreverent card games, crafting, Tarot-reading, hikes, hot-tubbing, poker lessons, and just taking some precious time to enjoy each other’s company.

The “Stick Man” bonfire.

As intensive as each day was, the passion, dedication and brilliance that each attendee brings to the conversation is truly inspiring, and bodes well for Burning Man’s future. 2012 has been a challenging year to say the least, but the quality thinking shown at this retreat proved that we’ll be able to handle anything the future throws at us.