Tell us about you, your experience and time in the Middle East.
I moved to Dubai from Kuwait back in 1997 and had a fabulous two years managing the Forte Grand sports and beach resort which is now Le Royal Meridien Jumeirah Beach Hotel. After 18 years in the health, fitness and sports management industry I took a sabbatical and travelled for 6 months – using the time to create a new vision map for the next chapter of my career.
On my return to Dubai I took up a post as Business Development Manager for an adventure travel company and used the time to build my experience in the field. Within months of starting the new post I had the opportunity to go to Malaysia on an educational trip through the tourism board – it was during this trip I saw Mount Kota Kinabalu and decided that I would come back and climb it the following year to celebrate my 40th birthday. To cut a long story short I climbed the mountain and managed to persuade 5 other women to climb with me . On reaching the Summit at 4095m I had my “ eureka” moment – a flash of inspiration to start my own adventure travel business with a mission to inspire and encourage more women to unlock their highest potential, connect with new cultures and challenges themselves in the great outdoors. A year after this first climb I led a team of 17 women to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Upon the teams return to Dubai I finally found the courage to leave my post and start Mountain High ( www.mountainhighme.com ) in 2003 and the rest , as they say , is history.
Over the last 13 years I have had the honor and pleasure to train and lead multi-national teams of women and men on 59 expeditions to over 20 countries to include the Arctic and Antarctica. On a personal level I have climbed 19 high altitude mountains reaching a personal best of 7000m on a peak in Tibet . During this time period I re-invested in myself and studied NLP , Mindfulness, Stress Management and Zen Leadership in order to position myself as an integrated personal leadership specialist offering a blended teaching methodology.
I had the opportunity to work in Hong Kong for two years as a result of Calin ( my husband ) been transferred there in 2010 . I established Mountain High Asia and split my time between Hong Kong and Dubai. Whilst I was in Hong Kong I developed my speaking and teaching career and have been building on this over the last 4 years. In 2012 we moved back to the UAE and settled in Abu Dhabi
This year I published my first book “ Moving Mountains” , a personal development book aimed at enabling readers to access the mountain within them , move any mountains that stand in the way of their success and be inspired to climb a real mountain in the process. The book is now the foundation for many of my talks , workshops and leadership training programmes. It’s a fusion of my story , client’s stories, inspirational quotes and lots of bright ideas to get people moving. https://www.amazon.com/Moving-Mountains-Discover-Mountain-You/dp/1784520896
Having lived in the Middle East for many years I find it a very dynamic place to live and work – and a great base to travel to and from. It’s exciting to see how personal and professional leadership has grown into an essential part of learning and development for teams and organizations of all levels. More and more organizations are placing a high priority on the overall health, wellness, and happiness of their employees and reaping the benefits from having more physically, mentally and emotionally balanced teams performing at their peak. In addition to speaking ,teaching and running expeditions I have teamed up with several venue’s to offer corporate retreats ; quality time out for teams to re-charge, re-fresh , reflect, co –create and envision a new path to success. More and more companies are tuning in to the benefits of time out in/ off site , to step out of auto-pilot into NOW, being totally present and open to new possibilities.
In 2015 I partnered with Anna Heystek, Director of Escape Events in Abu Dhabi to co-create the Women’s Peak Performance Summit www.womenspeakperformance.com to offer women( and men who support women’s advancement ) , an opportunity to network with each other and learn from a series of master classes lead by a team of experienced professionals to cover all areas of a women’s life ( physical , social, career, environment , mind, financial and emotional intelligence ) The Summit is an annual event and will be held on Saturday 20th May in 2017 .
How would you describe the culture of your business?
I set up Mountain High in 2003 and Julie Lewis Consulting in 2014 ( www.juleslewis.com Both businesses have been built on my passion for personal development using a range of methodologies that I have studied and certified in over the last 25 years.
Health, wellness , nature, personal growth, adventure , energy, peak performance , resilience, courage and a zest for life are central to both businesses. The greatest reward is seeing clients realize their own dreams and ambitions in all areas of their life. By taking inspired action you inspire and enable others to do the same . I am a great believer in leading by example and following/ offering a more Socratic leadership style ; that is asking questions and engaging in discussion rather than issuing instructions and orders. Wisdom and deep learning are gained by experiences so through my work we offer lots of valuable experiences and enable clients to keep moving forward on the journey to their own personal or professional Summit. The core culture of my business is based around constant learning through doing; blending simple ancient wisdom with the art and science of success …. and having fun in the process.
How easy is it for you to get direct access to the decision makers in your company?
One of the joys of being self-employed is being able to make your own decisions about what you do , where you do it and with whom you do it. It’s much easier to adapt and change to the market when you are in the driving seat. It's also great to be able to partner with other people and organizations with shared values on a project by project basis . Flexibility , creativity and resourcefulness are all essential when you are blazing new trails !
What are your biggest challenges in the next 5 years?
Now is the time to focus on the next chapter of my career which will involve more speaking, teaching and writing on a more global platform. Leveraging digital technology to connect with a wider audience is on the action plan – the challenge with this is being up to date with and mastering the latest technology !
Having lived as an expat in the Middle East and Asia for the last 20 years the biggest challenge ( which I am sure is a big one for all expats ! ) is deciding where to set up basecamp once we leave the UAE. One thing I know for sure is that while ever I am breathing I will be giving 100 % to whatever I do – be that taking time out , firing on full cylinders, writing more books, speaking, leading retreats / expeditions , spending time with family and friends or simply just BEING !
What is your philosophy?
You only live once so live it NOW … be happy , healthy , follow your heart , travel often , learn something new every day , be a beacon of light and love to all YOU ARE HUMAN SUNSHINE