I was fortunate enough to be invited by Women In Travel to be a mentor at their session Entrepreneurship in Travel, during this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM), Dubai.
As a social enterprise, Women in Travel is dedicated to leveraging the global travel, tourism and hospitality industry and its suppliers, to provide women with the opportunity to fulfil their economic and individual potential.
Before the mentoring session began, I was part of the audience listening to a panel of four women in travel, who provided an extraordinarily honest overview of the challenges they have faced – and still face – working in the travel industry.
As I listened to their stories, I realised these challenges are not just limited to the travel industry, but all industries – because the issues they face are due to how women perceive themselves at work.
One panelist described how, at an interview for the senior position she now holds, she started to list out all the things she wasn’t good at – Excel spreadsheets, reports and so on – rather than focusing on her strengths. We laughed, ruefully, in the audience, as we recognised this character trait in ourselves.
‘Find your tribe’ was one of the key takeaways for helping participants to build confidence in themselves and at work. Surround yourself with women – and men – who are really passionate about something and are doing something about it, who will inspire you.
Include your team as part of your ‘tribe’, too: these are the people you work closely with, day by day, so it’s vital to support and nurture each other, so you can each develop, both professionally and on a personal level.
In part two of this blog, I will elaborate on the importance of mentoring and why ATM, to me, used to mean 2am deadlines and hundreds of pages of print.
Sarah Longbottom is Director of Strategy & Planning at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. | www.cbpr.me