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Summary

International consultant with an entrepreneurial spirit looking for a long term challenge. Many years working abroad proves adaptability to multi-cultural environments. Leads, inspires and motivates others from all backgrounds to achieve common goals. Proven diplomacy skills with experience of working in sensitive political situations. Excellent communicator making the most complex circumstances /issues easy to understand. Objectives achieved and deadlines met by invoking friendly, innovative, clear and concise manner and inspiring confidence in others by always delivering on time and to a high standard.

Work experience

Policy Officer, Information and Communcations

West Midlands in Europe, Belgium
  • Developed and implemented a European communications strategy for the West Midlands regional partnership in the UK facilitating improved communications and use of the Brussels office facility;
  • Made EU policy clear and easy to understand by synthesising the information making it useful and accessible to practitioners through intranet and e-newsletters;
  • Part time placement in the European Parliament working alongside a West Midlands regional Member of the European Parliament in order to understand how the Parliament functioned and political relations in the region.

Head of Public Relations

Kosovo Trust Agency, Kosovo
  • Lead a multi-national team of five to develop and launch a multi-faceted PR programme for the privatisation of 450 enterprises including worker education, political lobbying, marketing of enterprises and monitoring of a €700,000 budget to ensure ability to adhere to legal visibility regulations;
  • Spokesperson for the KTA managing media relations and developing informative and positive relations with local and international journalists; liaison officer for UN, European Agency for Reconstruction, World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, USAID and other donors;
  • Managed the transition of staff from the Department of Trade and Industry to the KTA and the MTI as Kosovo developed its own institutions, created PR Units in both new organisations;
  • Member of the management team offering analysis of public and practical acceptance of proposed policies and regulations.

Partner

European Centre Kosovo, Kosovo/Brussels
  • Established the NGO to facilitate Kosovo Government operations in Europe and provide Embassy style service;
  • Persuaded the President and Prime Minister of the strategic importance of Brussels as a centre for lobbying and organised a diplomatic mission for them to discuss Kosovo’s future with the Head of NATO (Jaap de Hoop Scheffer) and the Head of EU Foreign Policy (Javier Solana);
  • Arranged a number of partnership meetings between Kosovo civil servants and their counterparts in the European Commission to improve communications and understanding.

Public Relations Specialist

Ministry of Trade and Industry, Kosovo
  • Prepared the initial start-up plan for the Kosovo Investment Promotion Agency with recommendations for strategic focus on core industries;
  • Developed investor relations strategy and designed a wide range of promotional materials to market Kosovo resulting in regular trade missions from German and Albanian companies;
  • Liaised with stakeholders (private and public sector) to align government policy with business needs. This resulted in changes to government legislation and policy through the SME Charter;
  • Trained staff to manage the media and develop a positive public image for the Ministry;
  • Organised the MTI’s first international conference to discuss common trade issues resulting in improved economic cooperation across the Balkans.

Consultant

Lowell Group, UK
  • Refined and implemented procedures for financial recruitment HR department achieving the department’s goal of recruiting 30 operators within 2 weeks.

Consultant

Assembly of European Regions, Romania
  • Persuaded the AER of the importance of communications in the field of Local Government and the EU; consequently delivered several one day workshops for European Officers from all 27 EU Member State Local Authorities on PR, Media Management and EU lobbying.

Consultant Communications Manager

ZonesCorp,UAE
  • Designed and implemented a wide range of PR systems facilitating communication between departments as well as to monitor and track ZonesCorp’s public image;
  • Initiated and prepared full range of collaterals for the Foreign Labour Service/One-stop shop to make doing business in the UAE ‘easy’ for ZonesCorp clients eg Hines construction.
  • Marketing and communications support to the Special Economic Zone and 4 Industrial Cities including writing and designing 5 lengthy infomercials with short deadlines;

Education

Sep 2007Sep 2008

MBA

Leeds University Business School, UK
Jun 2004Jul 2004

Certificate

College of Europe, Belgium
Sep 1994Jul 1997

BSc (Hons)

Brunel University, UK

References

Neil Carruthers

I write to confirm that Sarah Hackaj/Howell, worked on a contract basis as a Communications and Marketing Expert for ZonesCorp between November 2006 to the end of January 2007.

I first came across Sarah's work in Kosovo - she had worked for the Kosovo Trust Agency (KTA Privatisation Agency) and set up their PR/Communications systems as well as then running the unit. I subsequently reviewed the Marketing and PR plans, activities, and impacts for the EU on a framework contract - Sarah was no longer working there. I was impressed with the structured, yet creative techniques/methodologies that she had built in order to engage the local and international communities - including investors, donors and the general public. These had clearly been sustained by the remaining local staff in KTA.

I then met her whilst I worked on the National Private Sector Development Plan and subsequent contracts for the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) in Prishtina and the various regions. I was immediately impressed by her professional, focused approach and personal dedication to achieving results. She always worked within clear plans and delivered results efficiently via her own personal efforts and by engaging the local counter-parts.

Working in Kosovo, and especially the MTI, is really quite difficult due to the wider context which always veils any proposed actions, as well as the operational difficulties created by political factionalisation. This frequently means that implementation plans are stymied and postponed. From what I saw, Sarah managed to create positive relationships through her ability to engage and communicate with people. 

As a result of what I saw, I engaged her in Abu Dhabi as a Communications Expert. I had been asked to be the Marketing and Communications Director for a government-backed Special Economic Zone. This organisation provides land, investor services and advice to local and international investors but did not have an existing Marketing Department - the Media Department has been completely ineffectual to date. I asked Sarah to create a framework for the PR and Communications systems for the organisation. In a short space of time, she not only defined a strategy for external and internal communications, she also worked closely with the local staff to create daily media monitoring (management alerts), archive systems, staff and investor newsletters, designed/created copy for several adverts and annual directories, investor fact sheets, worked on the launch of two major new services and a large scale project, as well as assisting in the broader development of the corporate brand.

Skills

Computing/Design Skills
Corel Draw, Microsoft Office 2007 (Word, Publisher, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook). Strong technical abilities.
Albanian
Speaking: Basic Listening: Basic Reading: Basic Writing: Basic
French
Speaking: Excellent Listening: Excellent Reading: Excellent Writing: Good