Anne has been an expat since 1993 when she and her husband escaped the cold of Toronto, Canada and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They enjoyed the sun and sand for 14 years, while she worked in the PR field, and then decided it was time for a new adventure. Heading for even more sun and sand, they moved to Dubai in 2007.
Anne has graciously agree to share her story for those who are inspired to use their experience in public relations to build a career broad.
And with that I’ll let Anne tell her story…
The Move to Dubai
When we moved to Dubai in 2007, I had been working in public relations for 17 years. It’s an intense profession with long, demanding hours, managing crises and high profile events, juggling last minute media requests and managing expectations. In all honesty… I was burned out. I was not one of those trailing spouses who grudgingly left a career behind. We had talked about the move for a year and I was ready for a break. I revelled in the thought that I wouldn’t have to get up and go to work every day, at least not initially, and there really wouldn’t be any rush.
The Career Shift…By Choice or by Force?
I loved every minute of my PR career (well, most of them anyways), until I hit a wall. The last few years before we moved to Dubai, I had been battling chronic fatigue, while trying to keep up the hours and demands of a 24/7 industry. My body was telling me to slow down. My success story is not just about being successful living as an expat, but even more about accepting the fact that physically I couldn’t keep doing what I had been for so long.
The move came at the perfect time. To be among people who hadn’t seen the “full steam ahead” version of me and would only know the lower key, not-so-driven Anne who was happy to be behind the scenes (or so I thought) would be a relief. That worked for the first few months when my husband was buried in his new job and I was busy with the painters, plumbers and landscapers and getting settled into our new home. I was occupied and content. Then, when the dust cleared and all the workers were finished, I sat back and smiled. What now?
Time to Shine
I did the lunches, went to a ladies’ coffee morning, joined the American Women’s Association and even got on the board (I just can’t sit still). Then, the career woman in me started squirming. I was surprised it was so soon but I knew deep down inside that I couldn’t keep up the “lady who does lunch” persona for long.
So, I started thinking about what I should do. I knew that I couldn’t go back to the pace of the PR world. Physically, I just couldn’t hack it anymore. But, what could I do, happily and easily from home and be my own boss? Well, the most common thread that ran through every job I had ever had was…writing! I loved writing and I was good at it. It was mentally demanding but not physical and that fit the bill! It was a business I could set up with minor start up costs and very low overhead.
I started doing the research and discovered I could get licensed as a freelancer through Dubai Media City. All they required was an application, passport copy, professional degree (relating to a specific area of expertise), a letter of recommendation from a local business and a business plan (and licensing fees, AED 25,000 or US$6,800 for first year and an annual renewal fee of AED 20,000 or US$5,450).
I had already put a lot of thought into working for myself and had done some preliminary market research. I found that there was definitely a need for my expertise in business writing. They must have agreed since my application was approved in less than two weeks. I hung out my shingle and started running my copy writing business.
I’ve been very busy ever since and recently moved to Phuket. I have taken my portable career with me and just launched my first book, @Home in Dubai…Getting Connected Online and on the Ground published by Summertime Publishing. Hopefully @Home in Phuket will be next!
Since 2007, I have provided freelance writing services for international clients in both private and non-for-profit sectors in a multitude of industries. I specialize in PR, marketing, corporate communications and social media content.
What natural strengths and qualities were most important in helping you succeed/overcome your challenge?
The key strengths and qualities that I have that helped me overcome my challenge are patience and adaptability. From a professional perspective, I was born to write and I have a natural sense of curiosity, which makes for a good researcher (critical in the writing process).
What "lessons learned" would you like to share with other current or aspiring expats?
One of the most important things to do when launching into living as an expat is to do as much research as you can in advance. And, never underestimate the effect of jet lag. Give yourself a chance to catch up when you first arrive and accept help when it's offered.
What does the future hold for you?
I have just launched a new book to help expats moving to Dubai called @Home in Dubai...Getting Connected Online and on the Ground and will continue on as the series editor and hopefully write @Home in Phuket as well. I will also continue to do copy writing for corporate clients, small business owners and entrepreneurs through my company Global Writing Solutions.
I have a couple of e-books in the works that are 'How to' guides for authors (related to marketing and PR). I always like to keep things fresh so I'm trying my hand at fiction as well (just successfully completed National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, 2011).
Many thanks to Anne for sharing her story and words of wisdom!
And for those in need of freelance writing services, Anne specializes in PR, marketing, corporate comunications and social media content for international clients in both private and non-for-profit sectors in a multitude of industries as well as small business owners and enterpreneurs. You can learn more about her services at Global Writing Solutions.
EXPAT CAREER SUCCESS TIP: Writing your story is a great way to celebrate your accomplishments in life as well as uncover strengths, qualities and talents that could be keys to your personal and professional success.
Reflect on the things that Anne shared about her expereince that were critical to her professional success in Dubai. How could they help you move forward towards a successful career abroad? How could you cast your fears aside?
Then consider writing about your own story to see what what strengths, talents or lessons about work and life you might find. Come back and share what you discovered.
For tips on how to write your story, you can read Jo Parfitt's advice on this topic in "expat story" interview.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ career by choice can help you...become an expat and experience a global lifestyle ~ explore international career options and find work abroad ~ understand your Brand DNA and how you can perform at your best ~ clarify your personal brand to stand out and be sought after for top jobs overseas ~ develop branded tools and strategies to communicate your unique expertise in a differentiating, compelling way ~ strengthen and manage your online reputation to attract employers and clients worldwide ~ leverage your expert status to become highly visible, recognized and well compensated for the value you create ~ leverage social media to build your global online network ~ conduct an international job search ~ manage transitions and overcome challenges during international assignments ~ provide an international career coach and experienced guide to help you think, live & work global ~ optimize your career choices and discover success abroad on your terms by being your best self ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~