Women in the workforce have been in the spotlight in the UAE recently with three companies launched in recent weeks designed to help women find career roles – Hopscotch, Mums@Work and Making Mumpreneurs added to the recent announcement that eight women had been handed ministerial roles in the recent UAE cabinet reshuffle.
Dhugga was speaking at Arabian Travel Market’s first ever session dedicated to women entitled ‘Women in Travel: Opportunities and Trends in the Middle East’. The session was moderated by Alessandra Alonso, Chief Mentor, Everyday Mentor and Carol Hay, Director of Marketing, UK and Europe Caribbean Tourism Organisation also joined the panel.
The topic was highlighted by Debrah Dhugga, MD of DUKES London and Dubai, who is also a career mentor to women, as she discussed how there are some fantastic prospects for women in this region but that more could be done to attract good candidates. I am inspired by the recent appointment for Dubai The minister of Happiness a female leader. Perhaps things will change and more companies will follow and give opportunity.
“There are lots of opportunities for women in business in the UAE and women shouldn’t be afraid to put themselves forward,” for AN opportunity she said. “There is also so much more that could be done to attract career minded women,” she continued.
“Women are hard workers and dedicated however within the travel and tourism sector specifically, it can be very challenging to carve out a career, motherhood and a partnership due to its 24/7 nature, but there are opportunities for flexible ways of working that would suit women with children, for instance.”
Dhugga went on to share her own experience of starting out as a hotel trainee manager.
“When I first took a board position I remember walking into the room and there were nine men sitting around the table,” she said. “All that was running through my mind was whether I should be wearing trousers rather than a skirt, I soon realised this didn’t matter at all. As long as you are in control of what you are doing, you believe in yourself and ask questions along the way then you are likely to succeed. I truly believe a mixed gender builds a better business. Men and women have different strengths pull them together and look at the results
On tackling the issue of balancing a family life with a career she had the following advice.
“As a mother, you need to be prepared to make sacrifices,” she said. “I have a son and a daughter who are now grown up and young professionals – but when they were younger, I paid more in childcare than I was earning – you have to weigh up what the overall, long-term benefits for the family.”
“I did make sacrifices as I travelled a lot, but I wouldn’t change my career path and I am sure my daughter will now follow in my footsteps,” she said. “Being organised is an absolute priority. I always had two lists on the go – a working day list and a family list. It’s also important to be honest with your employer about corporate social and weekend expectations, if you decide to commit to a full-time role.” Being a mother with young children
Currently, Debrah Dhugga is working on the launch of DUKES Dubai on Palm Jumeirah, which has a mixed gender executive team.
“I prefer having a mixed executive team as it provides a more creative dynamic, but we would like more female F&B applicants – we rarely get CVs from female chefs, for example, even though that trend is positive in the UK and the US.”
Owned by Dubai-based luxury property developer and holding company Seven Tides International, DUKES Dubai is the first international property for the DUKES Collection brand, whose flagship hotel DUKES London is a popular destination for GCC travellers.
Located on the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah and opening in Q4 2016, DUKES Dubai will add a distinctly British flavour to the city’s luxury hospitality offering. The property features 279 guestrooms and 227 hotel apartments and will offer world-class leisure, conference and entertainment facilities including a private beach and infinity pool.
A key part of the proposition is the Duchess Floor, which caters solely to women and is staffed by an all-female team. Rooms will boast increased security, fluffy bathrobes, premium toiletries, fresh flowers and glossy magazines – added extras based on demands identified through DUKES consumer research.