From Derby to Dubai

A University of Derby graduate who helped Justin Bieber shine on stage has scooped a major award in Dubai

Tom Ralston, who is 28 and originally from Manchester, graduated from the University in 2007 with a first class BSc (Hons) Sound, Light and Live Event Technology degree and has now been named ‘young achiever’ of the year at the Middle East EVENT Awards.

He is currently Project Manager for Eclipse Staging Services in Dubai, where he has managed huge shows for the international stars, as well as the likes of Bruno Mars and Razorlight.

Tom said: “It was an absolute honour to win this award. The fact that the accolade is for the whole of the Middle East and not just Dubai means that I knew there would be a lot of competition.

“The EVENT Awards is the top show for the industry in the Middle East. There were more than 750 industry peers in attendance so it was absolutely fantastic to get recognised for my work and especially to a standing ovation.

After four years as a project manager for dbn Lighting in Manchester, Tom looked to further his career and moved to Dubai in 2011.

He said: “I absolutely love it here and it was definitely the best decision I have made. In just three years my career has progressed at such an exponential rate that I now project manage the technical elements for some of the biggest and highest profile shows in the whole region.

“Since there are so many expats here, and with Dubai being so westernised in many ways, there was no real ‘culture shock’ moving here. It’s not all about work though, and life in Dubai is fantastic, with year-long sunshine.”

Reflecting on his time at the University of Derby, where Tom was president of the Student Union Events Society, he said: “There were many good times at the University, from not only the course I did, but the whole ‘life experience’ and social side.

“I was president of events for two years and a member of the cricket team for three years and there was a great social life that came from all of that. Someone once told me that ‘Derby is big enough to get lost in, but small enough to get found in’ and they couldn’t have been more right.

He added: “The main reason I chose to study at the University of Derby was it offered the only degree of its type in the country at the time. There were one or two other universities that did similar courses but they were more arts based than a science-based course.’

Tom’s career goal is to become general manager at Eclipse Staging Services or at one of its group’s other companies.

To find out more about the Sound, Light and Live Event Technology course at the University of Derby, visit


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