A day in the life: H+K consultant is a good sport

Promoting Qatar's commitment to developing sport is all in a day's work for Nicola Milan, a senior consultant for H+K Middle East sport's practice team.
Nicola Milan, a senior consultant for Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ (H+K) Middle East sport’s practice team, in Doha, Qatar. Juliette Sawyer for The National
Nicola Milan, a senior consultant for Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ (H+K) Middle East sport’s practice team, in Doha, Qatar. Juliette Sawyer for The National

Nicola Milan, 32, is a senior consultant for Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ (H+K) Middle East sports practice team, currently based in Doha. She manages one of its key new clients, the Qatar Olympic Committee. Ms Milan recently moved from London, where her previous roles included working as assistant to Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee, for eight years.


My alarm goes off at 6.15am and I snooze for as long as possible before the mad rush of getting ready while eating a bowl of cereal. I’m not a morning person, so this is usually the least enjoyable part of my day. I live in West Bay in Doha and have been mainly working out of the Qatar Olympic Committee’s (QOC) headquarters, also in West Bay. I get an Uber taxi for the 10-minute drive to the office.


I try to clear my emails and write my “to-do list”, which I cannot survive without. The work we do with the QOC is aimed at promoting Qatar’s commitment to developing sport, including its sports programmes and initiatives, its hosting of world-class events and celebrating its sporting heroes. The first campaigns I’ve managed have focused on showcasing Qatar’s athletes competing at the Youth Olympic Games and the Asian Games, as well as the PR campaign for Doha’s bid to host the 2019 IAAF World Championships, which Doha won last month. A lot of this work has involved interviewing athletes and working with a film editor to produce films that tell compelling stories.


I have a daily catch-up with my colleague, Shrief. Now that the Doha 2019 IAAF Bid is complete, we’re turning our attention to the next campaigns, which include Qatar’s Schools Olympic Program and Qatar’s National Sports Day. We brainstorm ideas to bring innovation and creativity to these campaigns and discuss how we’ll deliver the next steps.


I have a meeting with our clients at the QOC every other day to ensure everything is fully aligned. Today we discuss the international media outcome from the IAAF bid. Qatar’s key Olympic hopeful is Mutaz Barshim, who was an ambassador for the bid and I worked very closely with him on that – interviewing him for video messages, briefing him for media interviews and helping him with presentations he gave. This year he became World Indoor Champion in the high jump, as well as the second-highest jump in history.


Conference calls are a regular part of my day. I speak with our global sports director in London, and our regional sports director in Dubai to discuss the international media landscape and how it will affect our campaign strategy. Today’s conference call is with our digital team in Dubai. I’ve been working with them to deliver tailored social media campaigns across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube.


I pop down to the office canteen for a sandwich and a coffee, which I bring back to my desk to eat.


Part of my role is to provide support and advice to the secretary general of the Qatar Olympic Committee, Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, for his media and speaking commitments. We identify opportunities with key international media such as the BBC, CNN, and Bloomberg to promote Qatar’s commitment to hosting world-class sports events and developing sport globally. Today His Excellency has an important interview. I brief him and go over potential areas of interest first, then accompany him to the interview.


I try to walk the 30-minute journey home as often as possible to get some air and clear my head. Walking helps me focus and gets my creative juices flowing. I used to cycle everywhere in London but have not yet brought my bike to Doha.


Once home, I normally write press releases, speeches, proposals or briefings that are outstanding. This is the best time of day to focus without the distractions of the office.


I’m also passionate about playing sport and I have been learning to play golf at Doha Golf Club. But I’m still very much a beginner. I don’t love cooking so I often eat at the golf club. Sometimes I swim in my apartment’s shared outdoor pool or go for a run down the Corniche. Doha attracts many people from the sports industry, including several I’ve worked with before, so sometimes I meet old and new friends over food and drinks.


I try to be in bed by 11pm but it’s closer to midnight if I’ve done too much in the evening. Once in bed, I normally catch up on messages from friends and family. I miss my nephews, aged one and four so I FaceTime them as often as possible.


Published: December 13, 2014 04:00 AM


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