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.