Meet Claudia, Associate Director, Middle East

We took five minutes with Claudia to discuss her experience working as an Associate Director in the Middle East. In her interview, she talks us through her why she made the decision to move from the UK to Dubai, her career highlights since moving, and what we can find her doing outside of work.

Can you tell us about a day in the life of being an Associate Director in the Middle East?

As with agency life in general but especially in the Middle East, no two days are the same. The role is very fast-paced as we work with an array of clients across the GCC. I currently live in Dubai but often split my time between working in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with trips to Saudi Arabia to see clients. Alongside client work, I have also spent time over the past year working an internal business operations role and helping drive business efficiencies across the Middle East team.
The start and end of year are busy delivery periods for us as all the events are scheduled in the milder seasons before it hits 50 degrees in summer. I have therefore had the opportunity to attend quite a few of the events such as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens, golf, F1 and tennis.

You kicked off your career in sports from your time living in Cape Town. Could you tell us more about what drew you to the industry and how you ended up at CSM?

I have always been involved in the sports world, starting at school and carrying on into further education where I studied Sports Science at Loughborough University. My post-grad in Sports Management at the University of Cape Town took me to South Africa where I was able to start my career once I had graduated. To borrow a phrase from Sheryl Sandberg, my career has been somewhat of a jungle gym – I haven’t taken a linear path to get to where I am today.

My first role in Cape Town was in education where I lectured in Sports Management at a tertiary sports college. I’ve always had an interest in sports for good, so after four years, I decided to return to the UK where I took up a role in Sports Development. From there, I went to work for the brilliant Cancer Research UK charity, managing all their third-party partnerships with the likes of London Marathon Events and Great Run Series. It was here that I started becoming more interested in the commercial side of sports and partnerships, hence my move to CSM five years ago.

5mw Claudia

You originally joined CSM in London and then relocated to the Middle East last year. How did the opportunity come about for you and what made you want to make the move?

I came over to work on the Dubai Rugby Sevens in 2021 for our client, HSBC. I had never been to the Middle East before and I was amazed by the country, the event, and most importantly the CSM team out here. There was an electric energy whilst being in Dubai, and with all the opportunities and investment in sport and entertainment across the region, it was an exciting prospect to be out here permanently. Many phone calls with Regional Managing Directors later, I moved over to lead the long-term health project, Abu Dhabi 360, and start a business operations role to support the huge growth within CSM’s Middle East offering.

You’ve been at CSM for nearly five years now and have worked on several incredible client campaigns. What would you say your biggest career highlight has been so far?

Throughout my career, the biggest opportunity for professional and personal growth has been my move to the Middle East. I am constantly exposed to new people, cultures, projects and a different way of thinking.

My favourite campaign was the PP ShootOut golf event which was the first live sports event back in the UK after COVID ground all live sport events to a halt. Being part of that core delivery team, which was sanctioned by the DCMS and heavily bound by the strict COVID policy measures and procedures, was an incredible experience. We turned the whole event around in eight days – branding, securing the celebs and pro golfers, broadcast, Guinness World Records and more. The clients were brilliant to work with and a fun brand to execute.

When not at work, what can we find you doing?

I caught the padel bug very early on so you can find me on a padel or a beach volleyball court, running, at a sports event, or at a Dubai brunch!