1. Tell us about you, your experience and time in the Middle East.
I am from the UK and moved here in Jan 2007 after working in Medicine and then for the last 20 years education. My career has been slightly unconventional which I feel has helped me to date and kept me grounded.
For the last 10 years I have worked at a senior/board level for 3 of the largest education organisations in the Middle East region in all aspects of leadership, professional development, business development, technology, training and school start-up. I have led and designed education Professional Development programmes including International Leadership, Coaching, Teacher Training, Masters and Digital Technology programmes, drawing upon best practice internationally.
I’m also an Apple Distinguished Educator having led on many innovating technology initiatives which have led to sustainable change across the region and internationally.
For the last 12 months I have worked as an independent consultant in the government and private sector on various projects related to corporate and school leadership, education consultancy, school management, school start-up, IT digital strategy and innovation in the MENA region and Internationally.
2. How would you describe the business culture of the Middle East
The need for regular face to face presence in the region is extremely important here to build up trust over a period of time. Start up companies need to put their roots down in the region for long term gains and ensure they have seed money to allow for that trust building time. Decision makers tend to buy into you and not necessarily the company you work for so having high integrity, being accepting of cultural differences and having a little patience helps. By all means bring effective business models from the west here, but don’t impose them on people, use them as hypothesis instead.
3. How easy is it for you to get direct access to the decision makers in your company?
Being independent now I rely a lot on my networks over the last ten years to meet with the right people. The importance of networks in the region cannot be underestimated and is key in generating business. I try to ensure whichever company I work for or represent that I produce quality to enhance reputation. When I leave, I do so amicably. The networks in my field, although international are small in terms of ‘who knows who’ and it is important to remain credible in the region and internationally. What you do and what you say on a daily basis determines your credibility. A good acid test is to ask the question, do people think the same about you as you do yourself? And if not are you going to do something about it?
4. What are your biggest challenges in the next 5 years?
I am passionate about making a difference in education, training and technology in the region. Finding like minded people and organisations whom I could work with would be great. I am keen to work on a project for the long term to see through a vision into reality. I hope opportunities come as I feel I have another chapter or two left. Oh yes, I also have the small matter of my doctorate to try and finish off…
5. What is your philosophy?
To try and remain true to my own values, drivers and motives. This enables me to have a moral purpose and clear vision. This has taught me a lot in my own leadership and that happiness and effectiveness are inextricably linked, dependant on skills, ethos and synergies within it. Treat others how you would like to be treated yourself! It’s all about doing more good things more often….