Meet Zainab Hussain Shihab, Marketing and Communications Manager at Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort and Spa. Zainab has been working abroad in Phuket, Thailand and our team at Travel Trade Maldives decided to gain some insight into her exciting story.

1. What interests you about your particular job?

What really drove me into hotel marketing is that it combines some of my biggest passions. That is words, beautiful imagery, business strategy, branding and of course people and culture.

I started my career in hospitality at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island which is part of Hilton’s luxury portfolio, and while I still work in the Hilton family, it is a very different type of hotel. Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort and Spa sits on 72 acres of tropical gardens, is one of South East Asia’s leading meetings and events hotels and features 662 rooms and suites.

The strategy and materials needed are completely different and I am learning new things every day.

2. How long have you been working abroad?

I first worked overseas as a content writer and promoter for various publications in Melbourne, Australia for about four years while I was in university. This included writing for arts, bridal and cultural magazines.

My current position here in Thailand however is my first international posting in the travel industry.

3. Why are you willing to work overseas?

For me moving overseas was not a tough decision. I have lived abroad most of my life and I think this really gave me a strong case of wanderlust from a young age. I love meeting new people and getting immersed in a foreign culture in a way you can’t really do unless you live it day to day.

A great thing about living and working in a foreign country is that it gives you greater awareness and understanding of other people and their way of life, and this will be a great asset no matter what industry you’re in.

4. How did you adapt to overseas work culture?

When working in a foreign environment it is really important to understand that the language you use, hand gestures and even how you make eye contact can be either culturally appropriate or inappropriate.

Thai culture is so rich and hospitable and of course this extends to their work and business culture too. I read quite a bit about the local culture, practices and history before I arrived and that really helped. Another great way to adapt quickly of course is observation. People watching is great way to learn about how people interact with one another.

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

Yes, I definitely think living and working abroad has helped improve my adaptability, cultural awareness and communication skills. Being able to lead and work collaboratively with a team from diverse backgrounds and opinions to achieve a common goal is definitely something that will aid my personal and professional development.

6. Is your family living abroad with you? If not, how do you balance your work and personal life?

I am very luck in that I was able to move to Thailand with my husband and he has been very supportive of me pursuing my career goals.

7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I hope to still be working in marketing and communications but with a wider scope, looking at destination marketing and creating strategies that really drive hotel level activities.