5 Issues No one Tells You About Working within the Center East


I used to be in my early 30’s when my former boss – an American,  referred to as me for a proposal that modified my life ceaselessly.

He was providing me a job within the Center East – Alexandria, Egypt to be exact.

I accepted with out a lot thought. I used to be terrified and excited on the similar time.

I used to be going to guide a crew of Egyptians – Wow fascinated about it now made it appear to be essentially the most unimaginable feat.

But it surely wasn’t unimaginable. It was a whole lot of issues, however one factor is for positive, it was not that.  

So off I went within the early weeks of January 2012 from the Philippines and all the best way to Alexandria, Egypt. Wearing layers because it was the winter season with 2 full checked in luggage, a bucket stuffed with nervousness and a touch of hope.

I used to be excited and able to conquer the world – no less than Alexandria, Egypt that’s. 

Me on the base of the Pyramid of Giza Cairo, Egypt

So, I’ll share with you 5 issues that I realized working within the Center East and what folks don’t inform you.

That is a kind of issues that I needed to really expertise to know. There have been a number of situations that I arrived 10 minutes earlier than the appointment and located myself ready for 1 to 2 hours earlier than folks began arriving.

It was initially irritating, however ultimately I got here to appreciate that they weren’t being impolite, it was a lifestyle.

So, observe that if you set an appointment, be late. Chances are high everybody else shall be late too.

Within the firm I used to work for, we had been 2 within the senior chief crew of 12. Once I went to a coaching in Cairo the place majority of name middle leaders met, there have been 4 out of 20.

And of that, I used to be the one one in my 30’s. The remainder of the ladies leaders had been of their late 40’s and early 50’s.

I felt at the moment that I needed to do my half in not solely being a pacesetter however a girl chief.  One thing I’ve by no means actually skilled earlier than.

Having grown up in a rustic the place there have been 2 girls Presidents in my lifetime after which shifting to a rustic the place it’s a uncommon feat to be a girl chief, it was overwhelming however really humbling on the similar time.

So, to my fellow Woman Bosses on the market, that is one thing that you’ll expertise if you work within the Center East.

Me and my Ladies Management Workforce in Egypt

Take the chance to form the tradition the place you possibly can affect as a result of it helps set up girls leaders greater than you in all probability have skilled working in Asia, North America or Europe.

It’ll include its personal challenges, after all. However you’ll be ready the place you possibly can really make a distinction and encourage girls within the Center East to step up and be acknowledged as wonderful leaders that they really are.

3. Ramadan is an expertise.

I say this as a result of there’s the non secular facet of this but additionally the half the place folks quick – no water, no meals, no cigarettes from dawn to sunset.

Once I went by way of my first Ramadan, I needed to really be aware of a whole lot of issues.

Like having espresso within the workplace was one thing I needed to delay and, in some days, fully neglect about as a result of it simply appears impolite to be ingesting espresso whereas my crew has not eaten or drank something the entire day.

My crew appreciated this, and it was a small value to pay actually when in comparison with my crew’s sacrifice.

Since I labored in a worldwide name middle, I needed to speak to my counterparts from different nations to regulate break schedules to accommodate when the “breaking of the quick” occurs for my crew.

My counterparts from the US and Philippines had been all glad to conform and help. Whereas it’s a small adjustment, it’s one thing that I used to be aware to make sure the crew is engaged as the entire nation goes by way of Ramadan.

Take a look at my 50 Workforce Engagement Actions Information that may Rework your Workforce Right this moment!

If you happen to get the possibility to expertise Ramadan within the Center East, it’s one of the peaceable and great expertise you can ever witness in your life.

Get pleasure from it along with your colleagues whereas being aware on how one can be supportive. They are going to admire it greater than you already know.

Whereas I’ve seen this occur in North America and Asia, the Center East takes this to an entire new stage.

Probably the most memorable experiences I had was having to speak to the dad and mom of one in all my crew members asking me to refuse selling their daughter as a result of she was already engaged to a man who will give her a greater life. That the corporate needed to cease giving silly concepts to their daughter on being profitable within the office.

Whereas this appears ridiculous (consider me I used to be equally shocked), I respect the mother or father’s concern for his or her daughter.

In that assembly, I had blended emotions on simply how the dialog was going however I used to be additionally respectful as a result of I noticed simply how influential households are within the careers of their little children.

On the finish of that assembly, we agreed to disagree. I defined to the dad and mom simply how gifted their daughter is and that she has management potential that’s why she is being provided the promotion.

I politely informed them that I cannot cease the promotion of their daughter and that as an grownup, she should both take it or not. The choice shall be her daughter’s and never the corporate’s.

They weren’t pleased with the way it ended however that’s how I dealt with that.

After that assembly, I believed lengthy and onerous about that have. If one in all my crew members is experiencing this with their households, likelihood is, it’s additionally taking place to my different crew members and they’re simply not telling me.

Fairly quickly I shall be hounded by their dad and mom too. And I did not desire a repeat of that assembly for positive.

The subsequent factor I did was to have an open home occasion the place my crew can deliver of their households. I used to be going to make it a venue to speak to the households concerning the work that we do and the way nice their sons/daughters had been doing.

I used to be nervous on the way it will go however I used to be decided to strive a unique strategy on engagement due to simply how highly effective their households will be of their worker expertise.

The day got here and my stress ranges had been in an all-time excessive.

Within the occasion, I talked about what the corporate was about, how their little children had been making a distinction in our shopper’s buyer expertise. I awarded the highest performers with their household to finish the occasion.

Me and my Management Workforce in Egypt

It was successful and I had the dad and mom thanking me for what I do and for giving them a possibility to actually perceive the work that their kids do as nicely.

I used to be over the moon. Like I can’t wipe the smile on my face sort of happiness that day.

This grew to become an everyday occasion and anticipated by my crew too as they showcase the place they work and have their households round within the middle. Extra importantly, witness them getting awarded for being a Prime Performer within the firm.

I used to be more than pleased with the outcomes  – lower in attrition, improve in worker satisfaction and a extremely engaged crew on the similar time. Win- win!

Once you work within the Center East, know that household performs fairly an vital function within the lives of your staff. Be respectful of this and discover methods to interact your groups that will contain their households.

Competitors within the office generally is a good factor because it motivates the crew to strive tougher and be artistic. In working within the Center East,

I’ve noticed that competitors will be fairly intense.

In a number of situations, I’ve seen competitors so intense that it turns into private. What I noticed then was that my crew was very passionate with what they try this competitors escalated quick.

I’ve additionally noticed that comparability to a different particular person’s achievements made the competitors harder particularly if the competitors gained. The comparability was in an entire new stage altogether and catastrophe was in sight.

Oftentimes I discovered myself having to deal with the crew’s points due to intense competitors that strained the crew’s relationships.

Strains have blurred that the competitors grew to become an avenue to assault one other particular person’s life and criticize to a fault what needs to be or what shouldn’t be and so on. It was a large number!

That is a kind of issues that you just’ll must take care of because it occurs and one thing that shall be come up in the event you work within the Center East.

What I realized on this complete ordeal although is studying completely different approaches in resolving battle and communication. I used to suppose I had sturdy communication expertise earlier than I began working within the Center East however after I began dealing with these troublesome eventualities, I needed to up my sport.

Ultimately, I realized that variety meant really being open not solely to different folks’s backgrounds but additionally permitting your self to vary your mindset to customise the message that won’t solely be accepted but additionally embraced by the crew as nicely.

So, there you may have it. 

Residing and dealing within the Center East stay to be essentially the most life-changing expertise I’ve ever achieved in my life. I’ve realized so many issues that I wouldn’t have skilled had I stated “No” to my former boss and stayed within the confines of my workplace in Manila.

So, in the event you get the possibility to work within the Center East, take it. Don’t be afraid.

You’ll determine it out as you go.  You’ll meet folks and expertise a tradition that books and the information don’t even do justice.

I’ve met a few of my life-long buddies within the Center East and glad that they’re nonetheless very a lot a part of my life immediately. I additionally met my husband in Egypt and now now we have an overactive 3 yr previous in tow.

Life has really modified for me and I would not have it another manner. 

So, will I do it yet again?

Are you kidding?


About Daisy Casio

Daisy Casio is a Passionate Operations Chief with over 16 years of labor expertise in numerous management roles. She has run various groups in a number of places and has constructed groups from the bottom up. She is the Founding father of ChampLeaders Weblog devoted to remodeling leaders to Champions. She writes about management, administration, productiveness, profession ideas, crew engagement and plenty of extra. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here