x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 February 2018

Lots to digest when eating is not cheating

The Life: Since leaving journalism for a career in public relations, Dubai executive Jason Leavy has learned how to stop feeling guilty, and start taking lunch.

Jason Leavy, the managing director of the public relations company, DABO & CO. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Jason Leavy, the managing director of the public relations company, DABO & CO. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Former journalist Jason Leavy has learnt many things since making the leap into public relations. For starters, he no longer feels guilty when taking a lunch break. The Dubai-based executive was the launch editor of Emirates Today newspaper, which closed in 2007. He was recently promoted to managing director at the PR firm DABO & CO, whose clients include Hilton, BMW and flydubai.

6.30am

I'm up. I normally go to Fitness 24/7 in Al Quoz, which is Dubai's best-kept secret in terms of gyms. It's two converted warehouses in the back of beyond in Al Quoz, and I follow something called cross-fit, which incorporates weightlifting, gymnastics and athletics.

8.30am

I head into work, feeling alert. I start by consuming media, both on and offline. It's really important to digest it as thoroughly as possible.

9am

On Mondays we have a weekly team meeting for everyone in the company. Communications companies, ironically, are normally bad at internal comms. And so we want to avoid a vacuum of information. We have quite a flat management style, so we want everybody to feel included.

10am

At this time of year it's all about planning for the next financial year, which starts on September 1 for us.

12.30pm

I'll normally try to get out of the office to meet a media contact or a client. It's always good to talk to clients on a broader level, in terms of how happy they are with the account. The Rib Room at Emirates Towers does a great business lunch, as does Zuma near the financial centre. I come from a newspaper background, where "eating is cheating". So it took me a long time to shed the guilt of removing myself from the office to go for lunch, because you don't think of it technically as work. But I actually think it's massively important.

2pm

We've had a significant wave of recruitment over the past few months. So during the afternoon, I could well be at an interview or second interview. That's something I like getting involved in, because I'm a huge believer in hiring on the basis of attitude. Skills and experience can be acquired; it's all about recognising the raw potential.

3pm

The inevitable checking of emails. I get probably 100 to 200 a day, more than when I was a journalist. Running a daily newspaper was obviously intense, [but my current job] is more demanding because you have a diversity of clients, and every client is different. So in that sense you are juggling a number of different things at the same time.

5pm

Spending time with divisional heads, finding out what's going on. That can be anything from a new business approach to an existing client requiring something.

7.30pm

Leave work. I'll occasionally have a dinner with a contact. I'm a social animal, and I love meeting people, and I love sparking off people who have different viewpoints.