Eat, Play, Love: Sarah Cocker enjoys falafel, table tennis and family

Former business radio presenter swaps broadcasting for the world of investor relations at the UAE's fast growing franchise chain, Just Falafel.

Sarah Cocker says “Just Falafel wants to work to a gold standard in transparency and corporate governance.” Pawan Singh / The National
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Sarah Cocker is the head of investor relations and communications for the Dubai-based fast food chain Just Falafel. The Briton is married with an 11-year-old daughter, Georgia, and lives in Al Safa 2 in Jumeirah, along with two cocker spaniels and one cat. She arrived in the UAE two years ago after spending seven years living in Switzerland. With a broadcast background she worked for the radio station Dubai Eye as the co-host of Business Breakfast, where she met her future employer while interviewing the company's chief executive on air.


Until six months ago I was working on the breakfast show for the radio, which required early starts, and I still haven’t got out of the habit. I don’t necessarily want to wake up so early but it allows me to organise my day. As Just Falafel is now a global company it means there is always something to be getting along with. We have just opened another Australian outlet and one in Toronto, so no matter what time I’m awake there is a Just Falafel open. I walk the dogs and breakfast is a cup of Earl Grey tea and something healthy, like blueberries, with my daughter and then I take her to school.


I tend to get into work already knowing what my day will hold. It is rarely the same. It could be meetings with press, shareholders, franchisees or our chief executive. The office layout lends itself to easy, informal meetings – we have a flat management structure that encourages input. Just Falafel wants to work to a gold standard with regards to transparency and corporate governance. The world demands it, our franchisees expect it and we drive it. Our diligence in doing the right things well sets a standard that will help when and if we IPO. My role as head of investor relations is key to this.


Because of my early starts this could be lunchtime – and yes I do love falafel so I’m in the right place. I generally have one of the baked falafel offerings, which are healthier.


If I don’t have meetings or press releases to write, I am out looking at other offerings, checking out areas where we think there may be room for another Just Falafel. We like to chat to other providers, not snooping at all, interacting and exchanging ideas. We are now one of the foremost social media marketers in casual dining in the region, so there is often something to deal with along those lines in the afternoon back in the office.


I play table tennis. We have a table in the office. It doesn’t take all afternoon but it’s a great diversion and team-building opportunity. The office feels warm, positive and enthusiastic after a game against your colleagues (depending who won).


I have to deal with franchisees – not to tell them what to do, but to make sure they know what is happening and what new offers are available. We support, we don’t dictate. Right now in three different shops you can buy breakfast. We only use free-range eggs in a wrap with different flavourings – there is no falafel. The breakfast will be rolled out across all the stores from September.


I head home.


My husband is in banking, so he often gets home later than I do. I try to wait to join him for dinner. I walk the dogs, put my daughter to bed and by 9pm I’m just about ready to say good night myself. Again, it’s a throwback to the breakfast show. I was only hosting for about nine months but it seems to have changed me. I went to bed at 8pm when I was presenting it and now I’m looking at my watch if it gets close to 9pm. I love the weekends as they allow our family to connect with nature, going camping, sailing, and while I havn’t actually started yet, scuba diving. My husband is keen and my daughter is learning, so I can see myself going down below any time soon. That is us – I really don’t do the Dubai thing. I very rarely brunch and even though there are fantastic restaurants I am rarely in them.

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