Meet Emaar's World's Greatest Hospitality Talent finalists

The eight finalists have been revealed for Emaar Hospitality Group's 'World's Greatest Hospitality Talent' competition, and were interviewed before casting week

The Address Downtown is just one of Emaar Hospitality Group's extensive portfolio.
The Address Downtown is just one of Emaar Hospitality Group's extensive portfolio.
Anastasia Ratkanova
Anastasia Ratkanova
Ashleigh Carroll
Ashleigh Carroll
Dean Zhu
Dean Zhu
Gabriel Juneau
Gabriel Juneau
Gabrielle Nicholson
Gabrielle Nicholson
Menna Fahmi
Menna Fahmi
Nivesh Bhagtani
Nivesh Bhagtani
Sula Powell
Sula Powell

The eight finalists have been revealed for Emaar Hospitality Group's 'World's Greatest Hospitality Talent' competition, and were interviewed by Hotelier Middle East before casting week.

The competition was open to candidates below the age of 26 from anywhere in the world, and hopefuls sent through a personal video for shortlisting. The one-week 'casting' will take place from July 22-26 in Dubai, and the judges have been confirmed to select the winner. The winner will undergo a three-year training under Emaar Hospitality Group’s senior leaders and work across the board to gain hands-on insights on corporate hospitality leadership. 

Applications were sent through from countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Canada, USA, Australia, China, Singapore, India, France, UK, Portugal, South Africa, West African nations, Switzerland and The Netherlands, among others.

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Click through to find out who they are... 

Anastasia Ratkanova

 

A post shared by Hotelier Middle East (@hotelierme) on Jul 12, 2018 at 11:58pm PDT

Why did you apply for the World’s Greatest Hospitality Talent competition?
The complexity of opening opportunities and disruptive challenges, within which the hospitality currently finds itself, triggers my passion for the industry. In the environment where the consumption shifts from products to experience, luxury becomes more democratised and technologies bring new tools, I see the ideal time to innovate. The entirely unique and holistic recruitment process of the WGHT competition characterises Emaar Hospitality Group for me. The company resonates with my personal values and long-term career aspirations. I want to work for a close-knit but globally expanding institution and experience both the opportunities and challenges that come with it. A steep learning curve of the three years’ programme is promised and I would like to fully immerse in the sphere of my interests and make my mark there.

What do you think you can offer the hospitality industry?
Both in professional and personal life, people refer to my natural ability to understand deep human needs. I can understand travellers on a personal level in order to create a truly personalised experience for customers. I can find the right balance between new technologies and human-to-human interaction in order to eliminate the risk of the hospitality environment becoming too robotic and cold. With my orientation towards culture and art, I could initiate the development of innovative design concepts and new activities, which is relevant when consumers demonstrate their willingness to connect with locals and use travelling as a self-enrichment instrument.

What are your ambitions?
To earn recognition for my hard work, my goal-driven attitude and my desire to excel at what I am doing. I aspire to become a leader in its truest sense: the person who can inspire people to reach their potential while working on a common goal. I aspire to have responsibility to lead a team  through all ups and downs by taking appropriate strategic decisions. Building my career as a manager with Emaar Hospitality Group will allow me to realise my ambitions.

Ashleigh Carroll

 

A post shared by Hotelier Middle East (@hotelierme) on Jul 11, 2018 at 5:39am PDT

Why did you apply for the World’s Greatest Hospitality Talent competition?
I’ve been very privileged to intern and then return to work at the world’s most luxurious hotel, a renowned icon of hospitality and luxury. The question that often is asked when I share this with people is, “So, if you’re already at the height of luxury, where to from here?” My 'where to' is the World’s Greatest Hospitality Talent competition: an opportunity that enables me to work alongside and be mentored by like-minded, passionate and experienced hospitality professionals keen on preparing me for the global hospitality stage.

What do you think you can offer the hospitality industry?
I am able to effectively communicate with more than half of the world’s population as a result of my fluency in English and Mandarin. Given that my Mandarin fluency has already proven to be a substantial advantage in the hospitality industry, I can only imagine how this will continue to be beneficial as the Chinese increasingly embrace international travel and luxury hospitality experiences. Additionally, growing up overseas exposed me to many cultures and has given me a great appreciation for the wonderful experiences and memories that travel brings. As such, I empathise and work well with people from all corners of the world, which is essential in the dynamic and people-oriented hotel sector.

What are your ambitions?
If I narrowed all of my life ambitions into one statement, it would be: “to use the many blessings I have been given—a charismatic personality, an international upbringing and an eagerness to learn—to serve as a leader, ensuring to empower and inspire all those whose lives I touch.” In terms of the next decade of my career, I desire to be a linchpin in developing Dubai’s luxury hospitality industry, particularly to accommodate the growing Chinese market, which were only granted the privilege of international travel a mere 20 years ago.

Dean Zhu

 

A post shared by Hotelier Middle East (@hotelierme) on Jul 12, 2018 at 11:48pm PDT

Why did you apply for the World’s Greatest Hospitality Talent competition?
I have known Emaar Hospitality Group through LinkedIn for couple years. EHG is not only one of the most outstanding hospitality business company in the world, but also the most valuable real estate company in Dubai. While taking my master courses for hotel real estate management at Michigan State University, I have done several researches on different real estate companies all over the world. Emaar Properties PJSC is a great mix of all kinds of real estate outlets, including hotels, resorts, shopping malls, business centres and residences. Most of my work experiences are from hotel, resort and club operations. A wider hospitality management job is what I need now, so I applied for a property advisor position through Emaar Careers. Anusha Midhun from Oliv kindly introduced the WGHT programme to me after reviewing my resume. WGHT programme provides a great opportunity for people like me who needs an organic environment to grow faster into a young leader in 3-5 years. Backed by EHG, the training programme will equip me across all vital departments in order to explore more potentials from me. This is exactly my goal in the coming five years: keep challenging myself and exploring hospitality industry.

What do you think you can offer the hospitality industry?
Besides the education and work experiences I have achieved in the past six years, the most essential elements or characteristics that I can offer the hospitality industry are personality and attitude. I was born in a tourism and beverage business family. Serving people and dealing with different situations are what I have been learning throughout my entire life. I have recognised that the hospitality industry is an easily entered industry, but not an easy-to-retain industry. How to think and act positively every day are what I have done at each of my positions. So I am always thinking from the other person’s point of view for both customers and co-workers. My professors and friends see me as a person who shows initiatives for everything. I enjoy leading the team and helping the whole group reach a better goal. I like meeting new people because I could always learn from them. This is also why I have chosen hospitality industry as my lifelong career. I can feel and understand people because I am working in a people’s industry. In short, the hospitality industry keeps me passionate and curious for my daily life, and I give all my strength and vitality back to it.

What are your ambitions?
Before I started my master's programme at MSU two years ago, my dream was to own and manage a boutique hotel with unique and outstanding products and services. That’s why I tried to rotate at all departments at hotels and clubs — in order to deeply understand service. Recently, after experiencing a great number of new-concept city models. I revised my ambitions. I want to oversee a business complex, which owns hotel, memberships, high-end shopping and dining facilities, offices and residences. It requires me to understand how to manage different hospitality business functions. I would like to see how an organised and high-quality community is created and how to provide people with an enjoyable and interactive environment. I believe Emaar is the best place to help me realise my dream.

Gabriel Juneau

 

A post shared by Hotelier Middle East (@hotelierme) on Jul 13, 2018 at 11:33pm PDT

Why did you apply for the World’s Greatest Hospitality Talent competition?
My passion for the hospitality industry started when I was eight years old. Throughout the years, I developed ambitious career aspirations and combining it with my passion, it became the catalyst of all actions that I am undertaking. Consequently, I have seen the WGHT contest as a perfectly suitable and amazing opportunity to fulfill my professional goals while increasing the speed of my learning process. Moreover, Dubai is a worldwide tourism cluster and represents the perfect location to learn from the best of the best about the industry. Lastly, I have witnessed that Emaar Hospitality group is currently burgeoning, and having the chance to participate actively in the growth of such a well-renowned brand would be a highly-rewarding challenge.

What do you think you can offer the hospitality industry? 
The world of hospitality abounds with knowledge, stories and challenges. Undoubtedly, I still have much to learn and discover about it. However, in this adventure into the industry, I’ll bring my teamwork and leadership abilities both of which are aligned with sustainable growth. My novel/youthful and creative ideas will challenge the status-quo. I am also confident that my positive, fun, optimistic and diplomatic mindset will be an invaluable asset. Lastly, my strong academic background and five-customer service in English, French and Mandarin will serve as the foundation to enhance the industry standard.

What are your ambitions? 
In the long-term, my ultimate goal would be to own and manage a worldwide hospitality group that includes hotels, resorts, F&B venues and vineyards. I can simply summarise it as combining my passions to a challenging, fun, ambitious and highly-rewarding career. In order to so, I also need to learn about the best practices of the industry, reach a general management position, enhance my leadership abilities, participate in the growth and development of a highly-regarded brand, completely master my Chinese language, learn Arabic and that is just to name a few!  Life is such an enjoyable process and there is so much to gain, share and learn from it!

Gabrielle Nicholson

 

A post shared by Hotelier Middle East (@hotelierme) on Jul 15, 2018 at 3:01am PDT

Why did you apply for the World’s Greatest Hospitality Talent competition?
Having been to Dubai on several occasions, I am very familiar with the Emaar brand, and when I saw the opening advertised online, my heart skipped a beat. It has been my career ambition for as long as I can remember. I have wanted to obtain a management position within the hospitality sector, but seeing a fast tracked route with such a prestigious and rapidly growing organisation, I knew it was an opportunity I could not miss. The prospect of shadowing and learning from the best and most experienced senior leaders at Emaar is something that hugely excites me. Additionally the opportunity to study for an Executive MBA and further my theoretical knowledge around management and leadership, building on the learnings of my International Business Management BA (Hons) degree was something that greatly appealed to me - I love to learn.

What do you think you can offer the hospitality industry?
I strongly believe I have the theoretical foundations and skillset, which is supported by over five years' part-time work experience in customer service orientated roles, to enable me to excel in the hospitality industry. Whilst all this is necessary, I feel most importantly, I have the personality and characteristics which I believe will give me the means to shine within the industry. My passionate and determined nature has been reflected in my university grades having consistently achieved a first-class in every year of study during my management degree, which is something I’m really proud of. My enthusiasm and commitment means I put 110% into everything I do, especially when it comes to exceeding customer expectations. This was demonstrated through the consultancy project I undertook during my final year at university, whereby the client was so thrilled with the innovative solutions myself and my team produced, we were invited to present to the organisation’s CEO and senior management team. Although working within teams and within hospitality can present many challenges, my positive attitude and resilience means that I might get knocked down 10 times but I will always get up 11, and most importantly, I will always have a smile on my face.

What are your ambitions?
My ultimate dream is to become a senior manager within the hospitality industry, in particular, within the hotel sector, which has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember. The thought of working in a fast paced, dynamic environment where no two days are the same, is something that really excites me, as well as the prospect of job role where I am able to bring my enthusiasm and creative ideas and know that I really can make a difference. I am conscious of the challenges within the hospitality industry and the reality of it taking several years to progress through an organisation to a senior position, however this has never discouraged me. Seeing the once in a life time opportunity arise with Emaar, which would give me the chance to propel my career, was an opportunity I knew I could not miss.

Menna Fahmi

 

A post shared by Hotelier Middle East (@hotelierme) on Jul 16, 2018 at 4:12am PDT

 

Why did you apply for the World’s Greatest Hospitality Talent competition?
I have been working in Emaar Hospitality Group for three years, during which I have been treated with the utmost respect and fairness. I was presented with diverse opportunities, all of which played an important role in helping me become the person that I am today. As a result, I applied to this programme because it would be a step forward for me to advance my capabilities, experiences, & knowledge – allowing me to be able to give Emaar Hospitality Group a leader they can be proud to have helped create. The second reason would be because I know that I am career oriented – I can lead with confidence, I am approachable, and I am a problem-solver. I am constantly trying to expand my knowledge and learn something new every day. A three-year MBA programme is an opportunity that excites me – to be able to learn more, in itself, is a reason to pursue this opportunity. I am optimistic about my future, especially one within Emaar Hospitality Group. I want to offer the best version of me, and I’m ready to face opportunities that will take me there.

What do you think you can offer the hospitality industry?
I’d like to believe that I am generally a hospitable person. It is not just my job to put a smile on people’s faces, but a personality trait. Empathy, kindness, and seeing people smile because of me - or something I’ve done for them - is a satisfaction on its own, even if it means going out of my way to achieve it. Everyone wants to feel welcome wherever they go, I know I do. Being hospitable is not just confined to your work space, the front desk, or with your colleagues; Hospitality has no specific destination, location, race, or environment, it is merely a representation of you – the sincerest, best version of yourself. With the goal-driven, passionate attitude that I have, I believe that I can offer my commitment, drive, passion, and sincerity to, not just the Hospitality industry, but the guests that experience it too.

What are your ambitions?
My ambition is to leave a lasting impact in whatever I do. I know I have creativity – I just want to have the means and resources to put it to the test and make a difference with it. My ambition is to have that one day within the hospitality field – To be innovate, creative, and to make bigger and better changes. Furthermore, having spent my entire career within Emaar, I am determined to be part of the driving force that brands Emaar as the best hospitality group in the world. I envision a long career with Emaar Hospitality Group and most of my personal ambitions line up with Emaar’s vision to be the worlds most trusted and valuable company, enriching lives, powered by the best people. I would want to contribute in creating an unparalleled experience for customers to ensure Emaar superiority - not only in luxury developments & retail - but also in customer satisfaction, innovation, and hospitality.

Through my childhood & my career, I have been surrounded by role-models who have been outstanding leaders; His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may he rest in peace, looked after his people & his country in ways that made Emiratis be proud of who they are and to serve this country with pride. He had ambition, and he shared it with his people. Similarly, Mr. Al Abbar has created an environment within Emaar that is conducive to diligence and growth. My ambition is to follow in these steps, and be a female leader who has helped make a difference and has helped inspire our people, Emaar Hospitality Group, and ultimately the United Arab Emirates.

Nivesh Bhagtani

Why did you apply for the World’s Greatest Hospitality Talent competition?
To further challenge myself in order to groom and develop myself as a dynamic and high potential hotel general manager. The purpose of this opportunity absolutely coincides with the short term goal of my life- to be one of the youngest hotel general managers before I attain the age of 30.
This opportunity is an amazing platform to showcase my potential and optimise it further to contribute immensely to the hospitality industry at the global level.

What do you think you can offer the hospitality industry?
I can offer ‘myself’ as a passionate leader to the hospitality industry who loves to overachieve and exceed the expectations of all the stakeholders - guests, owners and colleagues, and this has always rendered a feeling of contentment in me. My diverse experience along with my dedication and commitment to aim higher has always helped me in driving successful operations in a collaborative and an energetic way. I have been really passionate about networking and negotiations and that has helped me drive great results in my diverse roles of regional operations support, sales and marketing, and hotel operations. I believe in making things happen and trust that anything could be achieved by ‘doing the right thing’. I love to deal with problems ‘head on’ while I believe in resolving them at the ‘grassroots’ level.

What are your ambitions?
At the core of my heart, I possess a deep desire to be a CEO of an international hotel company one day, while being known as the ‘people’s person’. I wish to develop as many people I can and want to be looked up to as a role model by my team and by the people of the industry. My immediate focus has been to groom and develop myself as one of the youngest hotel general managers of the hospitality industry and to lead my team with impact and influence.

Sula Powell

Why did you apply for the World’s Greatest Hospitality Talent competition?
In my eyes, Emaar Hospitality Group is a future-facing firm that takes risks and continuously innovates to ensure they stay ahead of competitors. In my life I continuously push myself to grow and expand; this is evident from when I chose to move to the UAE alone at the age of 17 for  university, an experience that transformed my confidence and cultural understanding. I know I am not a finished article, but I believe I definitely have a good foundation, which can be built upon with Emaar Hospitality Group’s support. Essentially, I am looking for more than just a job; I am
looking for a long-term career in a firm where I can learn from the grass roots up and my talent is treated as an asset. I believe Emaar Hospitality Group is that firm and somewhere where both my personal and professional growth will be nurtured.

What do you think you can offer the hospitality industry?
Coming from a sports background, I have a natural competitive spirit as well as the capacity to work in teams and pay strong attention to detail. Hence, my desire to succeed and inspire others means I never fail, only learn. Likewise, being a results-oriented person means I welcome change and always seek to walk the talk. Moreover, I have worked since the age of 10, therefore, I am used to having responsibility and managing multiple priorities at once. Additionally, throughout my time doing modelling and beauty pageants, I have developed my self-confidence and ability to speak well in public. Overall, I am a very open-minded person who understands the importance of listening to others and building relationships. I am sure these competencies will fit well with the working environment at Emaar Hospitality Group and allow me to create and provide an unparalleled experience for all guests.

What are your ambitions?
Being someone who always looks to better themself, I want to continue my learning and boost my personal growth by furthering my understanding of technology, accountancy and how to invest. In addition to this, I fell in love with Dubai while I was living there; I really took to the culture and way of living. As such, I want to operate in the Middle East for the foreseeable future and be part of creating history. I also aspire to be fluent in Arabic and work in other parts of the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and contribute to their 2030 vision. I always say no dream is too big, and can truly see myself in a C-level executive role.

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