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Hotelier forms program to develop conversational English among jobseekers

22 August 2016 | News

Hotelier Roxana Jaffer says a key to her success is a habit anyone can form
By Anne Lora Santos



The Filipino Times had a pleasurable opportunity to sit down with Mrs. Roxana Jaffer, the effervescent and adept CEO of Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha over a cup of coffee. Whilst we discussed several topics and shared many anecdotes, the memorable statement that made an impression, was that, “everyone has the potential of great achievement- it has to start from within; from focusing and learning to change one’s mindset; everything is possible, if one believes in oneself.”


Jaffer, CEO of Holiday Inn Dubai in Al Barsha, started an early career in the UK as an accountant for Dunkin Donuts and moving up in her career, holding crucial roles in business start-ups as an extremely successful Managing Director of new ventures. Ten years ago, she moved to Dubai to join her husband, expecting to retire. That was not to be!!


After being head hunted by a venture capital enterprise, to re-structure one of their dormant companies – which she successfully did – she landed a task of completing two building projects and handling the pre-opening of two hotels simultaneously and profiling several restaurants, bars and a nightclub.



Today she has not looked back. In a foreign country, with no previous experience in project management or interior design her only armor was herself, her belief in herself and her drive to succeed.


Rapidly she learnt the ropes of hospitality and in the competitive landscape of Dubai she is proud to announce that hotels and restaurants under her tutelage have slowly been recognized, becoming award winners and becoming household names. Today, she is sought after to share her expertise, never refusing to mentor discerning youngsters so they may learn the ropes and become successful.



Jaffer counts herself lucky. Lucky, that she was thrown challenges to excel, and which she relished. She took up the challenge, by refreshing her schooling wanting to understand how the new generation of the technological world ticked. As a mature student she accomplished an online MBA degree in Leadership with University of Liverpool and last year attended Harvard Business School learning about ‘Changing the Game’.



Whilst she has several other qualifications and diplomas, Jaffer is quick to point out that regardless of secular training, one must always take up any venture as a challenge. At the outset, strategies and objectives to work towards must be planned and insists on good leadership to steer the ship in place, before hiring the right team. To become successful, one needs a good team and her motto is to hire people who have passion, not qualifications as she states, “Skills can be taught, but passion cannot be learnt.”
Jaffer is very quick to point out that her success is due to her team who being passionate are willing to learn and profess her mantras that she lives by;


• ‘I’ Believe in Me
• Focus on excellence not success
• Leadership is about teamwork
• Without followers you are not a leader
• Success can only be grasped through self-awareness
• Learn to laugh at inadequacies and strengthen weakness
• Work Smart , not Hard
• You don’t have to be born a leader to become one



Aside from business, Jaffer said that being a CEO is not only about making a profit. Running a responsible business, entwining approaches for ‘people’ and ‘planet’ with business strategies in looking after the environment and helping the less privileged achieve their goals is just as important as being successful monetarily.


Jaffer believes by getting her staff to work towards a common goal can help strengthen the bond among her staff. Through staffs efforts in fundraising events and under her leadership, Holiday Inn Al Barsha was able to generate assistance to 67,382 Hungry Victims by sending energy biscuits to help disaster victims of Typhoon Haiyaan in December 2013 and last year managed to unite a Filipina nurse diagnosed with breast cancer to meet her son after 23 years of separation.

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Being a social entrepreneur, Jaffer is the founder of an NGO ‘Advent for Building Human Capital’ (abc) with chapters running in India, Pakistan and the UAE. It is an initiative to help build human capital so the less privileged and unemployed are developed to take up ideal employment in hospitality through ‘English for Hospitality’. Those with talent but not language skills required to make it in the hospitality sector have been impacted successfully by abc.


She said that what keeps her going is the sheer joy of giving.


Today she is excited with her new venture, Bodega Garage’- a Filipina Nightclub that opened at Holiday Inn Al Barsha a few weeks ago. She is confident that everyone will come in their Jeepneys to ‘park themselves’ and have a swell time, Manila Style.



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Bodega Garage @ The Q Underground (80)



Source : The Filipino Times

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