A week in the life of... Jill Downie - Gulf Business
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A week in the life of… Jill Downie

A week in the life of… Jill Downie

Managing director of Aziza Communications and co-founder of The Media Network, Downie juggles PR commitments with website responsibilities


I’m anticipating a really busy week ahead. My business partner Michelle and I are currently in the middle of completely revamping The Media Network’s website. She’s based between the United States, Scotland and Dubai so I have a lot of Skype meetings with her and our developer to make sure everything is completed according to schedule. Saying that, anyone who has ever experienced online builds would know there is no such term as ‘schedule’ when it comes to web development. I’m designing everything myself so I have spent a lot of time on InDesign today, making changes to layouts and tweaking artwork.


After a morning catching up on admin, I spend most of the afternoon training my staff at Aziza Communications the PR company I created in 2008. I like to hold mock client meetings so the team know how to handle various scenarios. I regularly give them subbing tests to improve their eye for detail and I like all of the team to be able to turn their hand to design. Having edited magazines for years prior to starting up my own company, I share the knowledge that I picked up from my art editors. In the evening, The Media Network team and I head to #MediaMingle, which is the networking event we host with China Grill at The Westin Hotel in Dubai. It’s always a great night and the perfect opportunity to connect with journalists and PRs in a more relaxed environment.


Today I’ve got a lot of meetings in the diary – the first is with one of Aziza’s clients. We represent fashion designer Rami Al Ali who is unveiling his AW2015/16 couture collection this July, in Paris, so there’s lots to talk about and plan. In the afternoon I meet with the marketing team at AND Lounge, The Address to finalise a new collaboration with The Media Network. We are starting a new drinks evening on the last Thursday of every month, with complimentary beverages for all media who attend. I’m sure it will be very popular. I head to another meeting straight afterwards to scout a new venue for our monthly quiz night. I want to find a place as stunning as the Dow & Anchor, our previous venue. Sadly, with summer here, it’s too hot to hold it there any longer.


More work on the new website takes up most of my day. There’s endless testing to be done, trying it out across all web browsers and computers to ensure all is consistent. I can’t wait for the day the website is finally launched, especially as it’s been in motion for the past year. I know all the hard work will be worth it though. Tonight I should be heading to the Ahlan! Hot 100 restaurants party but I fear I will be curled up on my sofa with my laptop instead. Such a glamorous life I lead.


Lots of planning for Aziza today. In the summer months I like to take advantage of the fact it’s quieter so we have a quick brainstorm to come up with new ideas and get organised. Owning a PR company is great as everyday is different – from advising clients and organising meet and greets with media to planning events and just generally overseeing the team to ensure all runs smoothly. There’s also bug- checking to be done for the new website, probably the most painful part of all but so important. Thankfully, I break up the day by catching up with a good friend from Seven Media for a bite to eat and a chat. To unwind in the evening I plan to head to one of my favourite cocktail bars, Koubba Bar at the Madinat, and catch up with the girls. It’s not a new bar, but I still love the place. It never gets old.


I’m so glad it’s the weekend. I’ve been in Dubai for nearly 12 years now and I still wake up with a smile everyday when I see the sunshine coming through my window. These days, I like to simply relax and do as little as possible. I’m no longer the party girl I once was. In the day, I sometimes head to Tips & Toes and get a mani/pedi or a blowdry but today I am going for the works – a full body massage is calling. Tonight, I am heading out for a chilled dinner with my flatmate. Trader Vic’s or MJ’s Steakhouse are usually top of the list, as both have amazing food.


I spend today mostly catching up on sleep and planning an upcoming holiday with Michelle. She is coming over to Dubai for a month while we relaunch the website and we always try to squeeze in a holiday where we can. We are great friends as well as business partners. Last year, we visited Bali. Now we are planning a long weekend in Sri Lanka. It may be work tomorrow but I never dread the start of a new week. I love my job and there’s the little things like the weather and my two-minute commute to work that I appreciate the most. It definitely beats grey skies and the London Underground in my native Britain.


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