Profile: Deborah Oliver, New Millennium Experience Company Delivering the Dome message. Deborah Oliver puts the Royal Mail behind her for a new millennial posting.

’It’s easy to underrate Deborah,’ says former colleague Amanda Aviss, divisional director at the Royal Mail. ’She’s quite quiet, it’s actually a quiet determination - she’s been hugely influential here.’

’It’s easy to underrate Deborah,’ says former colleague Amanda

Aviss, divisional director at the Royal Mail. ’She’s quite quiet, it’s

actually a quiet determination - she’s been hugely influential


It would be pretty galling if Deborah Oliver, 42, had not been hugely

influential. After all, she started at the Post Office when first class

stamps cost 9p (19 years ago). It was her first job after graduating

from Aberdeen University with a degree in English, and since then she

has risen to the top of the organisation.

Aviss says that it was down to Oliver’s energy and enthusiasm that

communications was eventually made into a board position at the Royal

Mail. Oliver says that was the start of her problems: ’It’s a brilliant

organisation. I loved it,’ she says. ’But I wanted to stay in

communications and there was nowhere for me to go except general

management. I really agonised.’ And then she saw the advertisement for

the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) communications chief.

’Something clicked. I’d had over 19 years of job security, and this was

such an exciting project which would be over in less than three years.

It seemed like a very liberating prospect.’

Ten days into the new job, Oliver is getting to know her eight-strong

team and consulting clients, the media, agencies, sponsors and

Government departments, to gauge how much needs to be done in terms of

building a PR strategy.

There are two strands to the NMEC: the Dome and the festival (cultural,

sporting and environmental events across the country). Oliver’s job is

to get people excited about visiting the Dome and to involve them in

local celebrations. She won’t give anything away about exactly how that

will be done or by whom.

’I’d be surprised if it could all be done in-house,’ she says, adding

that it’s possible she’ll bring people in on secondment from


Unpaid advisers to NMEC have included Matthew Freud who has a wider role

on its executive committee.

Things will be judged to be going well, she adds if, a year from now,

forward ticket sales for the Dome are rising steadily and there’s some

positive coverage and excitement about the Dome.

It should perhaps be added here that Oliver, an only child, went to 13

schools because her dad was a warrant officer in the RAF and travelled

the world. When the Territorial Army recruited at the Post Office a

dozen or more years ago, Oliver wrote them a stiff letter asking why no

women had been approached. ’They asked me to join,’ she says, ’that

taught me!’ The result is that Oliver is now one of a handful of female

commanding officers in the TA with a regiment of 90 soldiers under


She’s modest about her other extra-curricular activities, and after some

thought says it was probably through a good working relationship with

Floella Benjamin on the Post Office’s stamp committee, that she became

involved with the Women of the Year Lunch. She is now a director of the

organisation: ’What’s terrific about that is you’re surrounded by women

of achievement from every background.’

With just 550 days to go before Dome-day, it’s unlikely Oliver will have

much time to take on any more, but showing the mettle that’s made her a

lieutenant colonel in the Royal Logistics Corp, she refuses to


’It’s a funny feeling, more excitement than panic. To be involved with

something so big, is tremendous.’

Back home in Fife her mum is very proud. ’Oh yes,’ adds Oliver, ’Mum’ll

be the first out on the streets of Kirkcaldy selling Dome tickets.’


1992: Head of public relations, Royal Mail

1994: Projects director, commun-ications, The Post Office

1995: Communications director Royal Mail

1998: Project director, Delivery Review

1998: Director of communications, New Millennium Experience Company

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