Maldivians Working Abroad: Rizan Afeef

Our team at Travel Trade Maldives decided to gain some insight into the inspirational story of Rizan Afeef, Director of Human Resources at Rosewood Little Dix in the British Virgin Islands.

What interests you about your particular job?

We are given an opportunity every day to create inspiring and lasting relationships, learn new things, live our passions and solve complex problems that can impact the lives of millions of people. Businesses don’t make products – people make products. And that concept of the workplace is a very ‘human’ place to be doesn’t change despite all the advancement towards technology we are witnessing; it’s more or less a chance to be more human and stand out from the crowd.

How long have you been working abroad?

My adventurous spirit & passion towards the exploration of new environments and cultures has fueled me take on a couple of international assignments in exotic locations such as Desroches Island – Seychelles, Xishuangbanna – China, Sepang – Malaysia, Colombo – Sri Lanka and presently based in Virgin Gorda – British Virgin Islands. I’ve spent around a total of 6+ of my career years working in the international arena apart from the Maldives.

Why are you willing to work overseas?

Having international exposure not only broadens your horizons but equips you with a unique understanding and skill-set that’s highly sought-after. Global exposure can also result in an appreciation and awareness of other cultures, values and markets, having these broader values allows you to build up the sensitivity and necessary skills to operate in an international landscape, as well as a greater understanding in the complexities and developments in international economies. Once you have an appreciation of different cultures at work and an understanding of how to support growing businesses in emerging markets, you position yourself well to take on senior change/HR transformation and strategic HR roles.

How did you adapt to overseas work culture?

Embarking on a programme of cross-cultural training is invaluable before taking up international assignments; making an effort to learn and understand the mindset and prejudices as well as what to expect in the new culture is of vital importance. It is highly encouraged to build up a picture of the new culture by reading literature, newspapers, employment act and blogs. Connecting with your new employer and bridging relationships with colleagues prior to physically commencing have also helped me settle and adapt in no time as I’ve had the opportunity to clear out my questions well in advance. Apart from the above, maintaining a positive mindset and allowing myself to be approachable whilst starting out with the basic assumption that people in the new culture are friendly and welcoming, even if there are hiccups in communicating have without doubt helped me position successfully well in international environments.

Do you believe that working abroad helps your career? Why?

If you work in a foreign environment, your adaptability, flexibility and communication skills are inevitably going to improve. Also, the chance to work with a diverse set of people to achieve common goals will help improve your team-working skills. You will be forced to accept different viewpoints that will inevitably help boost your objectiveness, reasoning and fairness, all of which are qualities that are essential for a successful leader. Another great opportunity to work abroad is that they also allow you to experience the local culture; this is not only interesting from a personal perspective, but it can also help boost your professional skills. As business is not conducted in the same manner across the world, experiencing a different way to work can help you get a better understanding of certain practices.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

To be able to partner or work with a prominent NGO such as UNICEF, World Vision, Solve Education etc. to alleviate suffering, help communities rebuild and strengthen resilience for the future and to become an inspiring advocate for poverty eradication that integrates a focus on children to steer.