Our team at Travel Trade Maldives decided to sit down and gain some insight into the inspiring story of young Ibrahim Mirnan Maniu, Cluster Assistant Sales Manager at Crossroads Maldives. Like many professionals, he has worked his way up the ladder from the bottom with prestigious brands and has succeeded in attaining a post that he set out for.
My name is Ibrahim Mirnan Maniu, I’m 26 years old and I currently work at Crossroads Maldives. I’m looking after sales for two resorts which are Hardrock Hotel Maldives and SAii Lagoon Maldives under the Crossroads Maldives project. Before joining here, I have worked with Joali Maldives, Vakkaru Maldives and with Outrigger Konotta Maldives in Sales and Marketing positions.
How did you get started with your career?
Starting from my school days, I was always interested in working in the hospitality industry. Honestly, I thought I was going to be a General Manager someday but the more I thought about it, I realized that it wasn’t for me. That I never really had the ambition to be a General Manager. But Sales and Marketing was an area I wanted to pursue and with the personality that I have – it seemed like the right area for me as I am someone who can talk easily and connect with people, which is one of the key things required for a sales professional. This is how I got into Sales & Marketing.
My first job wasn’t in Sales & Marketing. And when you really look into it, you can see this particular field is very much occupied by expats. Hence, I was a bit reluctant about whether I can pursue a career in this field. Right after I came back from my studies in Malaysia, I got the opportunity to work at a company called Open Hotelier which is a travel tech firm in the Maldives. A travel tech firm is something you normally won’t hear off in this country, so it kind of grabbed my interest. It allowed me to take on a marketing post, which I believe was a good start.
This is how I actually got introduced into the industry. Through this, I got the opportunity to meet numerous sales and marketing professionals from resorts and hotels. After meeting with them, and seeing their line of work, I realized it was possible for me to take on a role there and do something similar. After working with Open Hotelier for two years, I had to leave them. During this period, I just took a chance and applied for a marketing post at Outrigger Konotta Maldives. The DOSM at that time told me that they were taking a chance with me as I didn’t have a background in the hospitality industry before. I told her that she won’t regret it and I believe I was able to prove her and the team that despite my lack of experience in the industry, I was able to make a stand with my line of work.
The first few days at Outrigger made me realize that everything was very new for me, that I had a lot to learn. But I always knew that I could find a way to complete the tasks that they gave me, ensuring it was done to the best mark. My DOSM would mostly be traveling on business trips and since there wasn’t a dedicated sales team, I was the only sales and marketing person based on the resort at the time. I was very much involved in all the areas and it taught me a lot. As I was doing a bit of sales there, I thought this might be a good area for me to try as it piqued my interest rather than marketing.
So, I applied to Vakkaru Maldives as a Sales Coordinator and since I had my experience with Outrigger to show for, I was lucky enough to get the post I applied for. I believe luck played a role here as well, as someone put their trust in me and hired me as a Sales Coordinator while my past experience was mostly in marketing. At Vakkaru Maldives, I had to work with a boss who was very experienced in the Maldives and I was able to learn a lot from her. I think this is the place that lead me to the role I am in right now. After Vakkaru Maldives, I went to Joali where I was kind of offered a sales position but it didn’t work out according to plan. However, I met my current Director of Sales at Vakkaru Maldives and when she started working on this project, she offered me to come and join her. And that is how I got the opportunity to come here to this position. She has been my greatest mentor who saw my potential from the very beginning and offered a helping hand exactly when I needed it. I am forever thankful for her.
What do you consider as some of your notable successes?
If I really think back, when I started with Outrigger Maldives in December of 2016 and when I look at today, less than 3 years from that time, I feel like it is a very small time frame for the development rate that I have achieved. I would say that the speed I was able to climb up the ladder is something I am very proud of and I think this was mainly due to my belief to never settle for something that I think is not good enough for me. Sometimes people find it difficult to move forward from their current position because of job security, comfort, and convenience. I think I would say this is my biggest success so far.
A few things I would like to highlight is when I was working as a Sales Coordinator, taking up the challenges of Sales Managers. I always saw competition everywhere, and I knew you have to work not just hard but smart in order to succeed and to keep developing yourself to reach the top. You have to be part of the team yet you also have to work on improving yourself on a daily basis. Through this, I was actually able to get a royal family booking as well for Vakkaru Maldives. And was able to create a name for myself amongst the travel agents which I think is very important in the sales industry.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced in your career so far?
The biggest challenge for me was to start in the industry, finding the opportunities can be quite tricky as employers mostly look for someone who is very experienced. I’m not sure how they expect to find someone who fits these criteria if they are unwilling to give a chance for new entrants. For me, the biggest challenge was my first hospitality sales and marketing job. At the beginning, meeting the sales targets and goals were a bit tough as everyone in your team sort of relies on you to meet the targets and expand the business opportunities. Mostly because this is the main area where you make the revenue for the company, and as a salesperson, you are constantly chasing a figure. I believe it will always be like this but that is what makes us who we are and how people would measure the performance of a sales professional.
Even though this is the biggest challenge for any salesperson, it is also the area that promises extensive growth over a short period of time. Other than that, I found it quite difficult to maintain a busy schedule, especially if you have business trips lined up you have to prepare early on and ensure all the reports and necessary details are covered after the trip.
What would you advise young adults who wish to pursue a career in this field?
One thing would be, to never stop looking for exactly what you want. If you are unable to grasp that first opportunity, take on something close to it and believe in yourself that somewhere along the line you will be able to if you work hard enough. It might take some time yes, but as long as you keep striving forward, you can expect to see yourself in the position you hoped to be in or even a better one.
My biggest advice for young adults or anyone interested to enter this field would be to have a clear mindset on their goals and expectations. To never be afraid to ask for what you deserve because if you feel like you deserve a promotion, you have to go and ask for it. No one will come and hand it over to you, just because you have been working hard for it. The worst thing that can happen is getting a big fat no.
The second thing is to never settle for something that you think isn’t for you. Some days it’s going to feel like that you’re not moving forward and that you are not making any progress, but keep in mind that growth is something that happens over time. Hence, always keep going forward till you find your groove. You will always be a work in progress and consistency is key. Good things come to those who go out and earn it, Everyday!