Business tends to slow down during Ramadan. Jason Leavy, the managing director of the communications agency Dabo & Co, explains how the workload alters in the office over the period.
How do things change in the office during Ramadan?
We have to respect the change in hours. It's probably that rarest of occasions where we get a chance to take stock and plan strategy for the coming season. Most companies in other markets like the UK will have that period at the end of the year where they are closing budgets and thinking about the financial year ahead. Whereas for us it is, particularly when you look at the events part of the business, it is very seasonal, in terms of running through from late September through to December and then from late January through to the end of May. So really this is the one time where we are not running at 100 miles an hour to keep up. This is our one opportunity to reflect, to strategise.
How do you fill your days though? Reflecting and strategising surely can't fill six hours a day, five days a week?
You would be surprised. I think there are a number of things, so if you take the events side of the business for example, we are doing events that aren't scheduled to take place until early October but are extremely intricate and require a huge amount of planning. So, for example, we are doing Abraaj Capital's annual investors conference in Istanbul, so there are site visits to Istanbul. There is a huge amount of planning to ensure that all the delegates get there, visa preparations and liaising with third-party suppliers. Equally on the PR side, business goes on. Clients still have products that they are releasing, stories to talk about. So it is more a case of that ongoing. But if you look at it from a sliding scale it is the one point in the year where things are toned down slightly. You can do a bit more in terms of planning and strategy.
Is it more difficult to get hold of people and arrange things? I'm sure not all offices are working at the same speed.
Not so much is the completely honest answer, which is really for two reasons. Number one, in terms of third-party suppliers and vendors that we liaise with, we have got very strong relationships there so we will be coordinating before Ramadan and understanding what hours they're working etcetera to ensure that we fit around that. The reality is that most of our clients are big international brands, so you have that level of set up as opposed to dealing with a small local company, for example. The one thing we do is also, of course, iftars on behalf of clients, normally with the media. It is that opportunity to spend quality time. I know it sounds like a dreadful cliché but it's true. There isn't necessarily an agenda there. It's more about building relationships.