The cultural differences between Dubai and Europe were intimidating in the beginning. Firstly, I had a lot of preconceived notions about how I would be treated as a woman. I was happy to see that there is a lot of gender equality in Dubai. The other big shock was that negotiating is a common practice here – even in grocery stores and pharmacies!
I also faced challenges professionally. I had to understand a new business culture and role, rebuild my network and make sure I kept in touch with my existing contacts. And I wanted to ensure that my replacement in Romania was well supported, so I helped with training. Plus, we have a very small team in Dubai. I was used to working with a large team and delegating work – so this was a change!
However, I decided to focus on the opportunities instead. Thanks to my background, I have insight into how other markets operate, and can leverage and implement best practices from Northern Europe over here. I’m also learning Arabic; there are some words that have no direct translation, and I love having a window into culture through this vocabulary.
The smaller team I have here has showed me that I can achieve what I need to – even with fewer resources. I’ve learnt how to work faster, smarter, and prioritize better. I’m now a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt, a methodology that focuses on improving business processes by reducing the likelihood of errors, and I use its best practices in my day-to-day work.