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Emirates' Jill Niven on the joys of forging relationships in travel

Emirates senior sales executive Jill Niven on countryside walks with her pooch, wanting to work in Glasgow airport as a child and showing off the carrier’s new aircraft to agents.

Jill Niven.jpg
Jill Niven.jpg

What’s your typical week?
I cover business and leisure customers for Emirates on the east coast of Scotland so my week is pretty varied, but I do have a rough structure. On Monday my team have an office admin day and the rest of the week I’m out and about on the road meeting a range of different partners. Most days I’m driving all over; to Edinburgh, Fife, Dundee and beyond. I probably cover a minimum of 100 miles a day.


How big is your sales team?
Our sales manager for Scotland and the north-east of England oversees five executives, of which I’m one. Between us, we cover the three airports; Glasgow, Newcastle and now our new Edinburgh route. I look after the central belt of Scotland – Edinburgh, Fife, Dundee and Perth – while my colleagues cover the west coast, Glasgow and Aberdeen and the north-east of England.


How many times did it take to pass your driving test?
I passed first time, within eight weeks of turning 17. I wanted my independence and couldn’t wait to get on the road to have the freedom of driving myself around, so I drove as much as I could. My dad was a star – he took me out to practise a lot.


What gives you road rage?
As I’m constantly on the road, getting stuck in traffic is inevitable and it can get really frustrating. Sitting in traffic, I always feel like I’m losing valuable time so I’m itching to get out of the traffic jam.


What’s your signature treat to deliver to agents?
As unbelievable as it sounds, our Emirates pens always go down a treat. I could go into a meeting with chocolates or cookies for agents, but it’s the branded pens they’re always after.


What do you like to do when you’re not on the road?
My favourite way to relax is going on long walks with my cockapoo, Maggie. There’s lots of beautiful countryside near where I live, such as Aberfoyle, the Trossachs and the Campsies, for her to run about.


What do you like most about your job?
The social aspect of getting to know agents and building strong one-on one relationships by meeting them for regular meetings and supporting them where we can. I’ve been working with Emirates for 12 years, with three years in a sales role.


What’s on your bucket list?
Florida Keys is on my bucket list, but I love South Africa and would go back again. I’d love to spend a few weeks there and go to Cape Town, Durban, the Battlefields area and stop off in the wine region.


How would you describe your company’s values?
Emirates is focused on delivering a leading experience for customers, not just for travellers on our routes, but with our partners too. We take time to build strong one-on-one relationships, where our customers know that they can count on us and that our service is second to none.


What key messages do you convey in an agent visit?
We are the largest international airline in the world with a network of more than 160 destinations, so I always talk about the connectivity we offer – providing travellers in Scotland with the most convenient routes possible to their chosen destination. Also, the new Boeing 777-300ER, which will be deployed on the Edinburgh service, is a state-of-the-art aircraft and I’ve been offering static tours for agents. They’ll be able to experience the fully enclosed private suites in First Class, the lie-flat beds in Business Class and the in-flight entertainment system in all cabins.


If you weren’t in travel?
Working in travel has always been my dream ever since I was a little girl. I live in Glasgow and, when I used to go on holidays from Glasgow airport, I would think this is where I want to work when I grow up. On the other hand, I’ve always been creative and have made wedding dresses, so maybe a career in fashion design could have been fun.

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