For the next instalment of our Office Profile series, we sat down with Executive Nourhan Elnahla and Consultants Anna Novgorodova and Savanah Dickinson to find out what life is like as a Portlander in Doha.
Tell us about the work you do in Doha.
Nourhan opens by telling us that her work as an Executive “revolves mainly around local monitoring, specifically social media and local traditional media; we really capture what’s happening locally. My work is focused mainly on strategy around that.”
“I think the big focus of the Doha office is on government clients,” Anna continues. “However, we do work with a variety of other sectors, for example I work as an Account Lead with a global foundation.” Like Nourhan, Anna notes that her work centres around strategy and international media, but a growing sector is the digital sphere. “Digital is becoming a big focus for all organisations worldwide, including government entities that are traditionally a little less digitally savvy.”
Consultant Savanah has been in Doha for the last four months, having previously worked in Portland’s Washington D.C. office for four years. “I would agree with Anna that what sets the Doha office apart is that nearly everything we do is government related. You don’t necessarily find that in D.C.”
Interestingly, Portlanders in Doha often work from the client’s office. Anna explains the benefit of this. “As we see our clients almost every day, schedule depending, we build very close relationships. I would say this is a particular strength of the Doha office, enabling those trusting, strong relationships – both on a professional and personal level.”
What do you enjoy about working in Doha?
“I came here about 4 months ago for my secondment and obviously enjoyed it because I’ve decided to stay!” says Savanah. “I think it was the individuals in the Doha office that won me over. It’s great because we all work so closely together with clients who are dealing with similar issues – we have to interact with each other and collaborate to make sure we’re on the same page. It really allows you to become connected with your colleagues.”
All three participants talk about the small-town vibe of Doha. “Because a lot of people are expats, I think it’s easier to make connections,” says Anna. “Everyone is really open minded towards new relationships, new friends and new circles.”
“You’re able to find your people really quickly,” agrees Savanah.
Unlike Savanah and Anna, Nourhan grew up in Doha – and she definitely agrees. “Despite how small the community is, it’s very diverse and international. You’re constantly meeting people from different countries; I think it’s great to have that exposure to different cultures and backgrounds. That’s one of the reasons I have decided to stay in Doha all my life so far.”
How does Doha encapsulate the Portland values? (Be Smart, Be Collaborative, Be Human, Grow)
Anna has given this some thought. “I think Be Collaborative is very important. Although we work in different teams, our work is all related in some way, as it is focussed on the government and public sectors. Also, in Doha we work with people from many of Portland’s international offices – London, Paris, Washington, Singapore. You don’t have a choice but to be collaborative!”
When it comes to working with face-to-face with clients every day, Anna notes also that Be Smart is a particularly important value. “As embedded consultants, we need to be super reactive, and able to provide advice immediately.”
“I would say that the Be Human value is something we’ve all touched on in our answers,” says Savanah. “We are all different people with different backgrounds, but we really rely on each other. This happens outside the office too, which is especially important when so many of us are expats and relocated here, knowing no one before coming to Doha. Everyone was really kind when I was initially here for a temporary amount of time, taking my hand, making sure I had everything I needed and knew everything – little tips and tricks. I’ve made it my mission to document all the wonderful things everyone taught me so that I can pass them on!”
“I think Grow resonates with me a lot” says Executive, Nourhan. “When I first joined, I was surprised to see that the Senior Partner we have in Doha, Noah, sits with us in the office, and works alongside us on projects. Senior members of the team are always looking after the more junior staff members, trying to make sure that they’re heading in the right direction, achieving their goals, and developing. That really stood out to me.”