Olive Strachan North West Export Champion 2016
Inspiring Business North West
phone +44 (0) 161 209 3950
World of Opportunity Awaits

Earlier this month I was privileged to be part of the line-up of speakers for the UKTI North West ‘spotlight on the Middle East’ event in Runcorn. This event was specifically to help businesses to understand and take advantage of the opportunities available in the Middle East. This is a topic in the first issue of People Management Middle East. Peter Cheese Chief Executive; CIPD mentions that he believes that HR can make a huge difference in the Middle East. Bearing this in mind the CIPD now have offices in Dubai. They have increased their presence on the ground over the past year hosting several networking events including Peter Cheese speaking at the Annual HR Summit in Bahrain.

Having had the pleasure of working with UKTI North West for a number of years being part of their Passport to Export programme and having availed myself of their excellent services on numerous occasions I find them invaluable and would recommend UKTI to any organisations that operates globally. At the Runcorn event Clive Drinkwater, Julian Birchett, Sandra Thornber and the team organised an interesting and informative experience for all the attendees.

It was an event that I thoroughly enjoyed and found extremely beneficial. Emma Parsons from the Bahrain Embassy gave an informative presentation on living and working in Bahrain offering some excellent hints and tips together with pertinent contacts. Glenn Cooper of ATG Access took us through his journey of building an international business focusing on Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the highs and lows but also sharing the benefit of his experience. Diana from The English Manner shared her experience of working in the United Arab Emirates. As one of the speakers I shared Olive Strachan Resources and my experience of working in Qatar and Bahrain since 2004.

As a speaker on the day but also having the opportunity to listen to other speaker’s one of the key messages that was reinforced time and time again was regarding ‘Cultural Sensitivity’. It is vital to:

Complete your research:
  • Explore and immerse yourself in the culture
  • Learn the laws and the social etiquette
  • Try to learn some of the language – I always learn how to say good morning in the country I am working in.
  • Understand economic drivers and future plans e.g. there is a drive from an almost total reliance on oil and gas to a sustainable future as knowledge and innovation led markets.
Build a personal brand:
  • Have a key differentiator
  • Present yourself well
  • Dress/speak appropriately
  • Have an area of expertise
‘Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.’ Jeff Bezos, Founder Amazon

Know your social media channels:

Know Your  Social Media Channels

So it is vital that your organisation has a social media presence or you will be missing out on a large and lucrative market.

Build your network:

In the Middle East there is a big emphasis on recommendations and being well thought of is more important than being widely known.

Having a previous client refer you to a future one is the most effective manner of creating a presence.

If you are part of a trade or professional body this is a great way of making contact.

I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the UKTI are both excellent methods of making contact with international clients. If you attend the annual CIPD conference in Manchester there were many international organisations who were also in attendance and the UKTI have many trade missions that facilitate introductions to business contacts.


Statistics from CIPD People Management magazine for the Middle East state that 37% of Middle East organisations plan to increase spending on employee training.

Women entrepreneurs are forging ahead in the Middle East and I have first-hand experience of this. A few years ago when I worked in Oman delivering a Springboard session to women entrepreneurs I was impressed by the variety of businesses and the amount of savvy professional women running their own businesses.

In addition, the penetration of smartphones in the Middle East is amongst the highest in the world!

As I previously mentioned having worked in the Middle East for 10 years I would recommend that we grasp the opportunity to work there. I have made some lovely friends who I am in contact with on a regular basis either in person or by using social media. The generosity and kindness I have received has been wonderful.

If you would like any further details about working in the Middle East or to attend our Cultural Sensitivity programme. Call me on: Office : 0161 209 3950, Mobile: 07739 763 750

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