How Katie ended up in Abu Dhabi

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Katie Heaton

Leaving the UK to come and live a million miles away (or so it seemed) was a big decision in many ways.

I had a job that I loved and friends and family everywhere I looked. That’s hard to leave behind.

In other ways it was an easy decision, spending a few years working in a mysterious place would be a fantastic cultural experience, and look great on my CV.

After leaving JMU Journalism and Liverpool in 2009, I landed myself a great job at Freshfield Marketing Communications in Preston, right on my doorstep.

In my role as a PR Executive I quickly learnt a lot about the media, the work that goes on behind the scenes, and what you really need to keep people interested in what your client is doing or saying. After just over a year I was promoted to a Senior Executive role.

Earlier this year I was presented with the opportunity to come and live in Abu Dhabi. After some serious time spent searching the internet for information about the city, the culture, the people, and of course the job opportunities, I was sold. Within a month my bags were packed and I was on a plane bound for the UAE.

The day after I landed I was interviewed by Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson hotels on Yas Island, just 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi city centre, and within two weeks I had signed my contract and I started as PR and Marketing Manager this year.

Day-to-day I am responsible for making sure our target customers are aware of the brands and what each hotel has to offer. This involves a variety of different aspects including PR, advertising, direct marketing and in-house promotions.

Radisson Blu is a 4-star hotel, with almost 400 rooms, two restaurants, a spa and a gym, while Park Inn is a 3-star with just over 200 rooms and one restaurant. The initial challenge was learning that the same thing doesn’t work for both, but my experience working for an agency with more than ten clients to manage daily helps me to separate the brands.

It takes some time to settle in to any new job, but when working in a new country it comes with some extra challenges. At first everything seems different, people don’t work at the same pace, and many things don’t seem logical.

But you have to embrace it and take in the culture of where you are, and soon enough you start to settle in. Now I am used to the day-to-day way of working in the Middle East, and I am sure I have brought some of my British influence to the office as well!

© Abu Dhabi Travel

There is a lot to love about living in Abu Dhabi, not only that the sun shines every day! One of my favourite things is the people. Everywhere you go you meet someone from somewhere different. In my office there are Spanish, Swedish, Arabic, Indian, South African and Turkish, to name a few.

This does mean that most of the time people around me are speaking and I don’t have a clue what’s going on, but I love it. You would never get this level of multiculturalism in Preston (no offence to Preston).

Back in the beginning of my journalism degree at Liverpool John Moores University, I would never have imagined I would end up living in the Middle East – I never even thought I would leave Lancashire!

But the skills I gained while studying and the experience I’ve had since I left university really inspired me to keep pushing and not give up until you reach the top – even if that does take you out of your comfort zone and away from what you know; it’s not a bad thing, in my opinion.

I am planning to spend a few years over here, I have a lot more to learn and there are a lot of opportunities to progress in my career. It’s also pretty close to some great holiday destinations – I recently spent two weeks in Thailand – so until I’ve covered all of them I will have to stay put!

After that, who knows where I will end up?

UPDATE: Katie is now working for a sports PR & marketing agency in Abu Dhabi, organising events and communications, plus sponsorship activation with major companies. 



About Katie Heaton, Class of 2009