Hotel News Middle East catches up with Natashia Hajee, new director of communications at Shangri-La Dubai
Describe your first ever role in the hotel industry? My first ever role was as an assistant communications manager and it was one of the best experiences of my career. The industry is so dynamic and there are always opportunities to be as creative as possible and to tell stories. I had a wonderful team to work with which made every day very enjoyable.
Who is the person who has inspired you most in your career? I think there are two people who have inspired me in my career and in fact, continue to do so. The first is my father. He has the most amazing work ethic and the best attitude when dealing with difficult situations. He always taught me the value of hard work and being kind to those around me. It is amazing what you can accomplish by just being nice. The second person would be Hayley Sturgess, my previous director of communications. She is a true leader and mentor. She taught me everything I know about the hospitality industry, our roles in the hotel and how to work in such a dynamic environment. We were always on the same page and it was just such a joy to come into work every day. How many people can genuinely say that? The knowledge that I gained from working under her is something I will forever cherish. She continues to be my mentor even though she has now moved back home to the UK.
How do you view the hotel scene in the region? It is so dynamic and so fascinating. The city itself is always evolving and this just provides us more opportunities to evolve with it. With so much competition the only option is to get creative, which I love!
What is the biggest challenge of your role? I think the biggest challenge is always making sure I keep ideas fresh and provide the leadership team with as much support as I can. With so many different demands, you always have to make sure you are there for everyone equally.
What is your favourite aspect of your role? Being creative! I love coming up with fun and innovative ideas.
If you could work in any hotel in the world which would it be? I would actually open up my own little bed and breakfast somewhere in the countryside, either in Europe or Canada.
What tip would you share with new staff starting out in the hotel industry in the region? Be flexible and adaptable – this industry is fast paced, exciting and so just be ready.