A Day in the Life of a Planner
5th Feb 2015
What's your official job title?
As of 3 weeks ago, Planning Director, Memac Ogilvy, Qatar
How would you describe to your parents/grand parents what you do?
I have fascinating conversations about human behaviour, culture and business.
How would you actually describe what you do?
I apply human and cultural insights in a creative way to communications and branding challenges, to help clients build better businesses.
Please could you write a sentence or two on what you were doing at the following times today/yesterday?
It’s Sunday, which is the new Monday for me out here in the Middle East. (we work Sunday-Thursday). I walk across the street from the hotel I’m temporarily at to the agency (a luxury after the daily commutes to Canary Wharf)
Finalising a strategy for the Qatar Tourism Authority – a brand with the opportunity to do great things. A country is being built beneath our feet here and there’s a young energy and belief that we can make any idea happen. There is so much potential and so much to play for and that sense of possibility is incredibly exciting.
Head over to a prospective client to present credentials. Arrive and set up. Then, are informed none of the clients are in today. Just like the last 3 times we did this. Back to the agency it is. “Welcome to Qatar” whispers my Creative Director in the lifts.
Putting the finishing touches on my “So What is Planning Anyways” presentation, which I’ll present to the agency in about an hour. As I’m setting up the Planning discipline in this office, I’m hoping to convey the concrete value-add we bring as well as the intangible je ne sais quoi that makes Planning the best job in the world.
Talk for an hour with one of our social media guys who is brimming with interesting local market insights. Because there is much less freedom of speech here, social is where it’s at. An interesting fact: while Instagram in the UK is mainly for sharing pictures, in Qatar and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), locals and especially women use Instagram as virtual store-fronts to sell high-end homemade products like food, accessories and clothing. He tells me that in Kuwait during Ramadan, some people even take to Instagram to sell sheep! Give people the tools…
7pm (or whatever time your work day generally ends)
Click on to Wordpress to finally get my Qatar insights blog going, only to somehow register and create the whole thing in Arabic. Thankfully I can now read my own words, and so can you at
If you left your job right now, what wouldn't happen as a result?
The agency would probably blink twice, shake their heads and chalk my brief appearance up to another desert mirage.
What's the most interesting thing you've done in the last month?
More in the category of ‘interesting’, but a bizarre New Year’s Eve at my parents’ that involved an Aztec-god shaped piñata, 100 glow sticks, and a cooking pot. No substances involved at all, just family.
What's the worst thing you've done in the past month?
Pack my entire life up and ship it from London to Qatar via Canada.
What are you wearing today?
Nothing to write home about.
What's the one piece of advice you'd give someone trying to get your job?
Get a good grounding of the basics, but also invent your own rules.
What's the one thing you wish you'd known before you started?
That by and large, everyone’s making it up as they go along. Which is what makes it so exciting.