Being a Director in Dubai: Farah’s story

March 30, 2022

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Simon-Kucher is a truly global company, with office locations all over the globe. More than 6,000 kilometers from our headquarters in Bonn, our small but punchy team in Dubai advises market leaders in various B2C and B2B focused industries on how to achieve profitable revenue growth. We talked to Director Farah Thalji about her experiences.

During Women's History Month, we celebrate the stories and achievements of our female Simon-Kucher colleagues. This year, we introduced Paulette, our Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, recorded a video with colleagues around the globe, spoke to Hannah about her internship experience, and interviewed Florence about her journey as a consultant.

To conclude this great month, we wanted to learn more about what life is like for a consultant at one of Simon-Kucher’s smaller offices in a very fast-growing market. Meet Farah Thalji, Director in our Consumer Goods & Retail as well as Leisure, Transport and Tourism Practices in Dubai.

Hi Farah, thanks so much for talking to us. Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Sure! My name is Farah and I joined Simon-Kucher in 2019. I’m based in our Dubai office and my areas of expertise include development of commercial strategies, pricing excellence, go-to-market, and deals transaction advisory for the consumer industry. I was born and raised across multiple countries in the Middle East and have always lived my life as an expat, including the time I studied in the US. I’m always eager to meet new people and travel to new places! That’s why Simon-Kucher’s global mindset is such a good fit for me.

That’s good to hear! What else excites you about your work at Simon-Kucher?

I love that we combine the best of both worlds: the resources and possibilities of a global company, and the absence of bureaucracy and strict hierarchical levels of a larger firm. It comes with a very accepting attitude towards suggesting changes and improvements to the way we work. It truly feels like the CEOs are ready to listen to any ideas proposed and do their best to support the full ecosystem of our colleagues.

At the same time, my personal work life is very fulfilling. Not only do I get to work on many exciting projects, but I can also indulge my passions and make use of them here in the office. For instance, writing is one of my hobbies, so I’m pleased that I had a chance to contribute in this way to the Dubai office’s marketing initiatives. We managed to ramp up our media presence and hold successful conferences. This has given me the opportunity to author press releases and be a public face for the firm, which is very exciting!

What is the best piece of career advice you’ve received, and what advice would you give to people on the same career path?

I think the most effective thing I’ve been told is that as you become a leader and grow in your career, you have to find that style that resonates most with who you are. Whether that is a quirky sense of humor, a level of introversion, or some other trait. There is no “wrong” way to be, as long as you act with respect for yourself and your colleagues. It’s tempting to want to copy or closely emulate those you look up to. But the reality is that you can only sustain what is most true to yourself. That will of course evolve over time, and we can always improve, but I’m a firm believer that your colleagues and clients will turn to you more and develop more authentic relationships with you if you bring your truest self to the job.

In your opinion, what makes Simon-Kucher a special place to work?

In Dubai, we’re a smaller office – just about 15 people – but I think it makes for a very fun, close-knit group. Our open office plan means that we’re in constant touch with each other and can share experiences and know-how easily. This also translates into the evenings: many colleagues are friends outside of work, which makes working together even more fun!

On a more global level, I’m very proud that Simon-Kucher is committed to a certain set of values. The company believes in building a culture that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and has taken specific steps to do so. That’s why I’m very excited to have Paulette join the team to put a strong focus on fostering DE&I initiatives. I want to be sure that my firm truly reflects the society around me. What I’ve most appreciated is learning about the different backgrounds of my colleagues, whether it’s how to be a better ally to LGBTQ+ colleagues or how to support new parents navigating the work/life balance. I’ve always grown up in quite a diverse environment, demographically speaking, and I’m a big believer that having a mix of individuals is a strength for any organization.

Speaking of which, what about your work/life balance? How do you like to spend you spare time and how do you balance private and working life?

As I mentioned above, I love to write! One of my childhood dreams was to become a writer, so I try to feed that passion, whether it’s writing short stories or helping a friend with a blog post. I’ve also more recently taken up horse riding – another activity crossed off my bucket list. It’s quite tough but I’ve found that it’s an amazing activity to incorporate into my travels.

Regarding the balance between private and work life – I’m still figuring that one out! It’s very easy to focus too much on the one or the other. But I’ve realized that I need to make the conscious decision and block some time to spend with my family or do sports, otherwise it’s not happening. So, I’ve tried to figure out what activities give me peace or help me recharge and try to schedule time for them during the week. It also helps that many of my friends are in the same industry, so they can relate.

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