Spotlight: Where Are You Now? Joanna Dawson

You’ve moved on from the UAE and we’d love to hear of your journey. Tell us about your experience, what prompted your move?

The key driver for moving back from the UK was to spend time with my father who was in the    latter stages of battling Parkinson’s disease. I knew there was not much time left.  At the same time I wanted to return to continue my International career based from the UK and re-engage   with the rich network that I have here, as well as my close friends and family.

What were the high points and low points of your time here and what reflections can you share?

The high points were between 2005 – 2008 when I was working for a UK Plc Whitbread and the Costa Coffee brand – supporting Franchise partners across the MENA region to grow their people and businesses.  I loved the travel, cultural exchange and the challenge of navigating operations and the day to day problems.  At the same time I was working for a ‘start- up’ really; we were ‘green eyed’ and pretty much learnt along the way – and made a lot of mistakes!  The leadership lessons I take from these years are priceless

Another significant high point was setting up Kompass Consultancy in Dubai with 2 business partners during late 2013.  Our Mission; ‘To inspire people and organisations to find performance and career success’ led to an intellectual and creative dynamic that continued to evolve over time. The sense of ownership for the first time of your own products and service was liberating, particularly after the hard graft of the first 2 years spending hours building the essential foundations.  Great to see that Kompass still flourishes and continues to support the region.

The lowest points had to be leaving Whitbread Plc and handing over – unknown to me – in the week of the peak of financial crash in 2008.  I had made my decision 6 months previously, so the timing was significant and ironic.  I was then out of work for the first time in my life in a   world that was totally fractured and de-stabilised.

What were the biggest challenges you faced ?

Looking for a job during a global financial crisis

Dealing with landlords and real estate agents!

Cycling across Cambodia and Vietnam with the Gulf for Good team to raise money to build a school: 500 kms in 5 days

Making the decision to finally leave – whilst knowing it was the right one!!

We’d love to hear about where you are now and your thoughts on what you will be doing in 5 years time. 

I am currently in the UK and have most recently moved into a new apartment that I proudly own  and can call home.  I think 5 years is a lengthy vision – certainly the next 2 years is about settlin into my own home, spending time with friends and family (which the pandemic has prevented) and working internationally and in the UK as a freelance coach and consultant.  I also want to join a great choir, get really fit again, travel to the places on my list of ‘must do soon!’ and  support a wider global community through my working practices. 

If you had your time again would you have done anything different?

Go more with my instinct; what FEELS right!

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