Jean Renaud Durbin (JR) continues the series of interviews in the DUBAI PROFILE NEWS Blog (DPN) that every week is hosting a new one. Paris was the city were Jean spend his first years of his life and Dubai the place which offer him the success. He is a great example of how you may manage with hard work to climb on the top. Managing a leading marketing company, located in Dubai, “THE CONTENT FACTORY” (http://www.tcf-me.com/) present us the balance between answering your last e-mail late night in your office with combining it along with a good night kiss from your daughter. French elegance experiencing the Dubai Dream. Let’s meet him better!
DPN: Jean, you are a French man, living the last 13 years in United Arab Emirates and you are married 6 years with a Filipina lady. Where is your real home?
JR: I proud myself of being an international person in a global world. My home is anywhere with my wife and daughter. It’s been Dubai for a while, we like it here; it is a great place to be business wise and quality of life wise. Can we call Dubai home all our life? I don’t think so, the pressure of the city and the weather get’s heavier as you grow older. So in a decade or so we will talk about “retiring home” we will then look into “neutral” territories which isn’t France or Philippines.
DPN: From 2004 you are running together with your business partner a really successful marketing agency in Dubai, “The Content Factory” (www.tcf-me.com). Tell us some things about your business.
JR: It’s a challenging business to be into, especially in Dubai and the Middle East at large. With so many “good looking agencies” around it is hard to compete as a boutique agency like us. During the golden age of Dubai many agencies just popped up, had big plans, big ideas, big account won, and when the trouble started, they just disappeared. We steered through all this by being true to ourselves, being brutally honest with what can and can’t be done; we were talking about ROI back in 2004 when the acronyms hadn’t even reached Dubai yet. We are working with clients literally as an extension of their team.
DPN: You started your career as a waiter and you ended up being a really successful Marketer with a great Portfolio of projects. Is the key to success the hard work or the good luck?
JR: Lot’s of hard work yes, but no luck, taking a chance is a better word. Sometimes you got to take a leap of faith and just do it. If you do it right, it will pay off. I took a chance in coming to Dubai as a waiter to start with. I didn’t even know where Dubai was in 1998. I didn’t even speak English at all at that time. I received a call on May 1st 1998, flew in Dubai on May 14th, leaving everything behind in Paris.
DPN: You live and work in Dubai a number of years. What does this city means for you?
JR: Dubai is very special to me. It is the land of opportunities. It is a global platform like nowhere else around the world. A village on the world scale where we can really mix along well. It is neither a perfect city nor society, but it offers a lot that people too often take for granted.
DPN: Eiffel Tower in Paris or Burj Khalifa in Dubai?
JR: Eiffel Tower! No hesitation at all!
DPN: Living in a global financial recession, doing business in Europe or Asia is the smart move for a person who wants to establish a new project?
JR: I think Europe is totally over rated for entrepreneurs. I see too many hurdles to do business, capital needed is huge, then the system kicks in etc...Many times it’s a nightmare. Asia is better in terms of opportunities, provided you have the right partners, and the right understanding of the culture. If you do not adapt then for sure you will fail. The Middle East, to me, remains the biggest opportunity of all in our lifetime.
DPN: What are the most important lessons you have learned in life?
JR: Plan a little, live in the present and cherish your past.
DPN: Who is the most important person in your life?
JR: My daughter has taken over my life completely!
DPN: Even being a person who lives among events and PR describe me when in life you felt most alone?
JR: I never really felt alone in my life. All the time I have been surrounded by good people. And there is a reason for that. I only see the good in people. I do not care for people that have twisted mind or malicious agendas.
DPN: Promoting a product is like planning the future of it. What does future hold for Jean Renaud Durbin?
JR: The future is to continue grow The Content Factory, move even more into digital solutions so in the long run my partner and I, will be both able to retire.
DPN: Let us know, which is the last movie you went to see?
JR: “Rango”, a couple of weeks ago
DPN: Through your work life you met a lot of interesting people from Nobel Prize winners to Prime Ministers and football celebrities. Whom out of them is the most outstanding personality and why?
JR: Meeting Desmond Tutu, the Nobel peace prize 1984 for his fight against apartheid, was an amazing experience. He was really down to earth, very humble and said something that really strike me and that stuck in my head from that day. He said: “I was saying the same things over and over before I got the Nobel Prize and no-one listened, once I got it, the world was all-ear”. In that sentence, to me he basically summed up the inherent flaws of our society. On the other hand, meeting the great football star Zinedine Zidane was pretty cool too!
DPN: Take us through one of your latest big projects.
JR: The latest big completed project I can mention at the moment was a complete Dubai Shopping Festival promotion on behalf of SanDisk Middle East. We planned the whole thing alongside the client for over 2 months, it included public relation elements, social media inclusions, database work, activation in all major electronic stores in the UAE, loads of designs and printing involved and then a raffle to win a big prize. It was a Great success.
DPN: Jean you are a married person with a young daughter. How does work life balance with personal life?
JR: Well, let me put it this way, I can’t go to bed without my daughter goodnight kiss, nor I can go to bed with an unread mail in my mailbox! I do work all the time, but I have the ability to switch off my brain when required and focus on being a father and husband.
DPN: An old actor said at the past that many men can make a fortune but very few can build a family. Do you agree?
JR: I totally agree. In the end, family comes first, you got to keep balanced. Fortune is accessory to better living.
DPN: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, which actor would you like to see play the lead role as you?
JR: Russell Crowe
DPN: Describe us yourself in 3 words.
JR: Passionate, hyperactive, caring