Q/ How long have you been in Dubai and give us a brief career history prior to starting up your business
A/ I moved from Kuwait to Dubai in 1997 to take up the post of Sports and Beach resort manager at what is now Le Royal Meridian Jumeirah Beach Hotel . I graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with a degree in sports science so my career path revolved around health, fitness and sports management in the private and public sectors to include 5 star Hotels. I spent 18 years in this field then took a travel sabbatical in 1999 - this formed the foundation for my next career move into adventure travel! I took up the post of Business Development Manager for Voyagers Xtreme in Dubai and worked with them for two years before starting my own business - Mountain High.
Q/ Can you give us the reasons for starting business, what motivated you
A/ Having experienced the elation of climbing my first mountain in 2002 on my 40th birthday and going on to lead a team of 18 women on a trek to Everest Base Camp in 2003 I really wanted to encourage and inspire more women to get into action and take charge of their health through expeditions , retreats and workshops . I took a leap of faith and left my full time job to start Mountain High with a mission to empower as many women as possible to step out of their comfort zone, take charge of their health, get into action and connect with new cultures through travel.
Q/ How long was it before you were up and running
A/ I was very lucky to set up within 2 months of leaving my full time post. I met a great couple who had a travel company (Creative Travel Solutions) in Dubai Media City and they gave me the opportunity to set up as a division of their company which took away so much of the paperwork and finances to set up as a standalone business!
Q/ What challenges did you come across and how did you overcome them
A/ All good things come to an end and a year after I started with Creative Travel Solutions they sold up and moved to the USA! Thankfully I was able to join another DMC company and continue the business. I then moved to Hong Kong for a couple of years (it’s super easy to start a business there!) The challenge was to make sure I kept things running in the UAE as I started to build market awareness in Hong Kong! I made several trips to the UAE during my time in Hong Kong - this made it so much easier to pick up and run again when we moved back to the UAE in February 2012! We are now based in Abu Dhabi. The time I spent in Hong Kong gave me the opportunity to focus on short retreats, workshops and speaking more as everyone is so time poor there that the expedition side of my business was out of the question.
Q/ What were your success achievements and what was your proudest moments
A/ I consider myself so lucky to have travelled to over twenty countries ,including the Arctic and Antarctica , and to have lead over 50 expeditions with amazing teams of women who I have learnt so much from ! I am a great believer in the positive effects of being in nature and I love to see people thrive and achieve their goals on expeditions - doing things they thought they could not do - like climbing a mountain or racing a dragon boat! In 2012 I took a team of breast cancer survivors to Antarctica and together with the help of several people we have produced a short film and a book about the expedition which I believe is a great achievement and tribute to all women.
Q/ How do you see your personal progression
A/ The last decade of Mountain High has been amazing, I have been so lucky to meet so many incredible women and see so many amazing places around the globe. The travel and retreats will continue as there are still so many amazing places to explore, however, it's time to package all the lessons and experiences along with the new courses I have been taking to take my career to a new level of speaking, teaching and writing and positioning myself as a leader in the field of integrated personal leadership (physical, mental, spiritual and emotional mastery) with a focus on simple daily habits to counteract our complex modern lives!