Adapting to cultural norms
Q: How has your previous work experience prepared you for the challenges of your role in the Middle East?
A: My previous work experience has equipped me with valuable skills and insights that directly align with the challenges that I face in my current role.
I’ve gained a deep understanding of cross-cultural communication and collaboration, having worked in diverse teams with individuals from various backgrounds.
This experience has honed my ability to navigate cultural nuances effectively – a crucial skill when working in the dynamic and multicultural environment of the Middle East.
Additionally, my roles have often called for adaptability and resilience in the face of challenges. I have managed projects in fast-paced and sometimes ambiguous situations, and through external challenges such as the pandemic and US boycotts of products due to regional conflicts.
Furthermore, I have an awareness of the economic and business landscape in the Middle East, gained through research and practical experience. This enables me to contribute strategically to the organisation’s goals in the region.
Q: The Middle East has a unique cultural and business environment. How have you adapted to the cultural nuances in both professional and social settings?
A: Adapting to the Middle East’s unique cultural and business environment has been a significant aspect of my professional journey.
I have developed an ability to navigate and appreciate the cultural nuances in professional and social settings. Respecting different cultures and beliefs is pivotal given the multicultural environment.
Professionally, I prioritise open communication and active listening to understand expectations, communication styles and hierarchical structures that may vary across cultures. This has enabled me to build strong working relationships with colleagues, clients and partners, fostering a collaborative environment.
And socially, I’ve proactively engaged in cultural learning experiences – both formal and informal.
This includes participating in local events, attending cultural workshops, and actively seeking to understand and respect local customs. This has not only facilitated smooth interactions but has also enabled me to forge genuine connections within the community.
I recognise the importance of adapting my communication style to be respectful of cultural norms. Whether it’s adjusting my tone or nonverbal cues, or conforming to local etiquette, I ensure that my interactions are culturally sensitive.
Q: Do you still cook traditional Sri Lankan meals?
A: We’re well known among the Sri Lankan community for preparing authentic Sri Lankan meals, thanks to my wife; we even brought clay pots from Sri Lanka for the authentic taste.
Finding quality ingredients – mainly spices – is challenging but we bring most of them from Sri Lanka since I travel often.