Interview with Dr Julie Boisard-Pétrissans, Managing Partner, PerfeQt Advisory – part two of our series of interviews on living and working in the Middle East!
Julie qualified as a lawyer in France in 2008 and is now the Managing Partner of PerfeQt Advisory, a consultancy that works closely with Jameson Legal and specialises in providing strategic advice and guidance on conducting business in the State of Qatar (www.perfeqt.qa).
In this article she gives insights and advice regarding living and working in Qatar.
What attracted you to Qatar and when did you first move there?
I’ve been living in Doha for more than three years now.
My move to Qatar was linked to my husband being assigned there. But it made perfect sense to me too. I was working for the MENA division of an international publisher and going to the ground seemed a very good opportunity for the company and me. Culturally, the Arab world has always been of great interest to me.
Can you describe a typical day for you in Qatar?
My business days are quite busy, starting at around 7.30am and finishing at 6 or 7pm. Usually, I am out of the office a couple of hours per day to meet clients and contacts. I also spend a lot of time chatting on WhatsApp. It could be surprising at first, but a lot of business is being done this way.
How does working in Qatar differ from working in your home country?
It differs in so many ways that I would only summarise a few points here. First, in Qatar and more widely in the Arab world, business is mostly based on trust. You need to go out and meet a lot of people. Personal interactions are key to gain people’s trust. Second, forget the traditional emails. A meeting, a telephone call or a WhatsApp conversation are way more effective. Third, you need to be very organised and flexible at the same time. You will probably have to deal with last-minute requests, with very little information and still deliver, right on time. Hang on tight, this is a bumpy road.
Why do you like living in Qatar?
Qatar is a very safe country, with one of the lowest criminality rates in the World. The country is also open to foreign cultures where expatriates from Europe, North America, Africa, Asia represent 90% of the overall population. This multiculturalism is a source of enrichment. Finally, Qataris are friendly, open-minded and welcoming. The atmosphere is thus very pleasant.
Where is your favourite place in Qatar and why?
I love the old fire station where you can find an art museum, artists workshops and a very nice café. The surrounding area is quiet, the old fire station being only a few feet away from the Al Bidda park.
What is your favourite activity in Qatar?
I very much enjoy chilling at the desert’s beaches with family and friends. The numerous luxury hotels offer delicious week-end brunches. Qatar is also full of interesting museums where I like to go when temperatures are too high (during the summer season).
Have you found anything challenging in living in Qatar and how have you overcome that challenge?
Differences in business habits are the most challenging issues I’ve encountered. I’ve overcome them by keeping an open mind, talking to a lot of people who were more experienced than me and never getting discouraged. After two years in Doha, I even felt confident enough to set up my own company in Qatar.
What advice would you give to a lawyer moving to Qatar?
My advice would be to build their local network as soon as possible. To that end, they shouldn’t stay behind their desk all day but go out, attend conferences and social events. Qataris might be difficult to liaise with at first. But once they understand that you are here to support the country’s development, then you are most welcome!
For more information regarding in-house legal and compliance roles in Qatar and the Middle East contact Iain Rainey at Iain.email@example.com