What inspired you to get into the hospitality industry?
Having a chef’s background I would say it is my love for food that made me take that step. I just love to visit restaurants, taste food, read about it, watch it on TV, explore the internet looking for new trends and even now, after being away from the kitchen operations for years, I don’t mind spending hours in the kitchen when friends or family are coming over. It’s even a great way to unwind.
How has your previous work experience inspired you to get to where you are today?
Being a chef gave me the opportunity to travel around the world and explore other cultures so I could easily adapt in a multi-cultural environment. It’s really a gift and something you need in the hospitality industry, especially in the Middle East. When I came to Abu Dhabi nine years ago for my first role as a restaurant chef, I really got inspired by my director of F&B at the time. He had presence, flair and leadership skills. Since then, I had this goal at the back of my mind.
How does this job add to your career progression?
For the last seven years, I’ve worked at Independent Restaurant Management Group which is totally different from working for an international hotel group. Even though I have worked in similar roles for both companies, my job at Marriott International feels like a first step into an international career.
Tell us a bit about the other markets you worked in and how that compares to your current role in dubai?
Before this role, I worked as an operations manager for seven restaurants and bars in the UAE. It’s quite an adjustment to move back to hotels as there are more policies and people involved when making decisions. Mostly this is an advantage as you have more input from experienced associates. Sometimes, however, it can be a disadvantage when you have to make decisions in a short period of time. But we all know that it’s always better to give important decisions a second thought or get another opinion.
What are some of the challenges you foresee, and the opportunities you see crop up from them?
We all know that the F&B market in Dubai is very challenging as almost every week new outlets are opening. Huge venues, luxurious interiors, famous chefs, spectacular entertainment, you name it and you will find it in Dubai. However, I strongly believe, in Sheraton JBR we still have the most important asset and that is our location. On JBR, a huge sea-faced garden and in front of the Ain Dubai Ferris Wheel, one of the most important future landmarks in Dubai. So Sheraton JBR will continue to be a strong F&B destination.
What would say are a few of your most significant accomplishments so far?
For me personally, stepping into Sheraton JBR and Marriott International as a director of F&B is one of the greatest accomplishments of my entire career. Hotels need more people coming from a dynamic environment like an independent hospitality company, but it’s not usually easy for leadership to warm up to this idea. Therefore, I’m thankful to my general manger and my team for believing in me and giving me this opportunity.
Can you describe any new initiatives or programmes that you’re planning to introduce as part of your new position?
We are working on our carnival brunch to make it one of the benchmark brunches within Dubai. With the BlueWaters Island project nearing a close, I would like to launch a sundowner brunch and some special days for the ladies at Bliss lounge, our beach club facing the Ain Dubai . For our Moods Bar, we are looking to extend it outside as we have a beautiful garden for the guests to enjoy.