When you started and the changes you have seen My partner and I started the business in 2009 when the recession in the UAE really began to bite. A lot of people though we were mad but the slowdown in the company’s that each of us were employed by at the time made it an easier decision. We went sailing for 6 months to take the time out to formulate our plans and then arrived back ready to embark on something completely new. Our passion for sailing was the catalyst although in this part of the world the charter business is mainly about motor yachts.
After a difficult few years the business is definitely picking up and we feel it especially on the corporate side, with clients spending more on entertaining and in house conferences/training events. When we started, there were very few Charter Agency’s however as economic conditions improved there are suddenly lots of individuals offering yachts without a registered company or any professional expertise in the field. It is not good for the industry as a whole as they offer yachts that may not be commercially registered and have inadequate safety checks. Cheap is not necessarily good but unfortunately a lot of people don’t see that until a problem occurs.
Being a business woman in UAE, what is it like? These days it is not difficult to be a woman in business in the UAE. My business partner is however male and an Arabic speaker so we just use the right person with the right client. As a team we can meet most challenges.
Challenges and eccentricities of working in the UAE I have been in the UAE for many years and I understand the pace of work and what you have to do in order to get the job done. The melting pot of nationalities requires a thoughtful approach to business – you can’t just think about yourself and what you want, you have to consider the person on the receiving end and tailor the request to give motivation and encouragement.
About the business you work in The marine business between charter and brokerage is a 24/7 kind of industry so the challenge is to maintain a work/home balance. It is always easy to keep on going especially when it is your own business but part of being successful is the wisdom to know when you need some down time.
The business is becoming increasingly regulated, which I believe is a good thing, as safety onboard must be a priority. We also need to provide a high level of customer service and be responsive to any complaints. There is no room for complacency as we strive to operate with the same level of professionalism as the major international yacht brokers.
How you got to where you are today I knew from a young age that I wanted to travel, live and work overseas and I initially joined British Airways on their management training scheme as I felt this would open the doors for me. I have lived and worked across the globe – China, India, Sudan and throughout the Middle East. Yachting is in my blood and every job I have held outside the industry from operations and commerce to marketing, advertising and PR, gave me a different set of skills and a new perspective which I eventually used to start my own business.
Anything you would change or be different Not really. The road is rocky at times but it is the challenges as well as the rewards that have given me the personal strength to do the job I do.