Name: Hayley Skirka
Current Job Title: Senior Editor at Swiss Media Group
When did you first arrive in Dubai? August 2007
Where did you work prior? I pretty much came to the UAE straight from university, initially working as an English teacher in Al Ain and doing some travelling before moving to Dubai a year later. I went back to Al Ain to work with The Source and Oasis Living Magazine before returning to Dubai for a few crazy years at Time Out.
What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
It was definitely still in the growing stage.
Has your opinion changed much?
It’s a lot more established and there is such a range of diverse media available now. That said, it is still relatively small compared to other regions and has a lot of potential. I think one of the best things about the UAE media industry is that it’s a great hub for change, development, new titles, fresh ideas and that things can change very fast compared to more established media sectors in the world.
Tell us about your role as Senior Editor…
As Senior Editor I’m spearheading the editorial side of our publications (Equestrio, SWR and Prestige) to make sure we deliver up-to-date, fresh, original, exciting and relevant content.
What challenges do you face?
Having not spent much time around horses since I was a kid, it’s a steep learning curve to get me up to speed on the equestrian world! That said, the horse world is so niche here that I’ve constantly got a great group of friendly faces around me, helping me get to grips with it all.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing the printed magazines with no errors! And securing Eddie Redmayne as our SWR cover star just a few weeks before he clinched his Oscar win was also pretty sweet.
What do you think of the quality of media publications in the region?
It varies hugely – some titles have super high standards while others definitely need major tweaking, though that’s often due to a skeleton staff base.
How do you find PRs in the region?
As a whole, they are friendly and informative although there are a few you have to chase down for information – something that would never happen in the UK. I prefer it when I get the chance to get to know a PR personally – both parties definitely benefit from investing this time.
What’s your pet PR peeve?
Follow up calls to see if I’ll be attending an event, just a few minutes after sending the initial email. There’s no need to call at all – if it’s relevant and someone from the team can make it then we’ll definitely let you know we are coming.
What advice can you offer PRs seeking coverage in your magazine?
Even though things are crazy busy in the PR world, it helps if you can find a bit of time to research the title. What’s the name of that fable, The Boy Cried Wolf? If you send over 20 or 30 entirely non-relevant emails, I’ll eventually get bored opening them and may end up missing something that we could have actually worked on together.
Work calls via landline, mobile or both?
Landline, unless it’s an emergency, although email trumps both.
Describe yourself in five words…
Friendly, driven, adventurous, optimistic and peace-loving.
Five things you can’t live without?
Family, close friends (they become your family when you’ve been an expat for so long), yoga, NKD Pizza (now Freedom Pizza) and coffee – lots of coffee!
If you weren’t a journalist, what would you be?
I studied interior design before doing my degree in journalism so most likely that. I do love interiors – which comes in handy working on Prestige magazine – but I wasn’t very good at planning for the long project deadlines, I definitely work better under imminent pressure.