Archive for the ‘ESL Jobs’ Category

A map would be a good idea.

July 5, 2014

Final day in KL. Had a very productive time so far and will certainly be coming back. There is a huge amount of business to be had and I want my fair share for m2r Education.

If you recall, we had the ‘privilege’ of having a tour guide with us on the KL part of the mission. Shame he couldn’t actually find anywhere. On our final day, Columbus was again with us. I was particularly looking forward to our first meeting, with the Ministry of Human Resources and Skills.  Working in recruitment this would be a perfect meeting and one I would get a lot of information from. The rest of the delegation also felt the same way. We boarded the bus with a huge sense of anticipation and Marco Polo put us all at ease as we headed off to Putrajaya, located 25 km south of Kuala Lumpur. Putrajaya serves as the federal administrative centre of Malaysia. Did you know that Putrajaya has nine bridges and 14 different designs of street lamps? Well, our intrepid guide filled us in with extremely fascinating facts as we headed to our first meeting.

Putrajaya. One bridge and one set of street lamps.

Putrajaya. One bridge and one set of street lamps.

Now. this first meeting was scheduled for 9am.  Excitement on the bus was building as I am sure you can imagine. Vasco da Gama was in complete control. After all, he was a tour guide, assigned to us and obviously knew his job. We put down his indiscretion the previous evening to nerves. 9am came and went and a high degree of deja vu was setting in. Putrajaya is very stunning but do we really need to see the same bridge 50 times? Maybe he was ensuring we saw every single street lamp before we alighted.

10am came and went. So did 10.15am. Hmmmm. Maybe our tour guide wasn’t all he seems. Surely not as it would make no sense whatsoever that we had been given a guide who couldn’t even find his way out of a paper bag, would it? Well, let’s put it this way, don’t buy him a paper bag for his birthday.

We were lost. He had no clue where the ministry was. Brilliant. His comeback was that he was a ‘tourist guide’ and the not a business tour guide. Oh cheers. Great planning then. No meeting but at least we saw 5 million street lamps and bridges. Less Columbus and more Columbo.

Off to the next meeting in that case! Thankfully he knew where this one was. Just. He also managed to successfully negotiate his own locale and find the rest of the day’s meetings too.

President's Palace, Putrajaya

President’s Palace, Putrajaya. Had worse meetings…

Being able to have a meeting in the above building was incredible. We were all seated in a UN style room which gave some of the group the opportunity to grab forty winks. No names mentioned and if I showed you the picture I would pixelate their  faces anyway….

Almost the UN

Almost the UN..

Very good meeting though, extremely informative and came out with information overload. Thoroughly impressed.

The final meeting was rather odd, only because it started in a manner to which none of us were accustomed. I have no intention of being derogatory to our hosts but it really showed how different cultures express themselves. As usual we all had to introduce ourselves, I have no issue with this and of course, makes follow up meetings a lot easier to arrange. What we didn’t expect was that each and every one of the 28 delegates received a hearty round of applause by the 5 company representatives who were hosting the meeting. As you can imagine, the introductions took some time to get through and we had to stifle laughter for fear of appearing extremely rude. Again, I must stress, I would never ever denigrate a host, especially one that was gracious and gave us food and gifts, it was just not what we were used to, that was all!

After what seemed like an eternity in getting back to the hotel it was decided that we should spend our last night exploring the sights of Changkat. We did. This is all I am saying on the matter. Click the link!

So it was farewell Malaysia, a thoroughly mind blowing trip for me and one which gave me tremendous confidence that we could secure a lot of business there. The group were bonding very well and although we were all very tired, struggling with jet lag and the humidity, no one was grumbling or complaining. So far so good.

Before I sign off I must tell you about my own Columbus / Columbo experience as we left for Indonesia. Now, suffice to say and in my defence, most people almost followed suit. I stress the almost.

Picture the scene. The airport for the Air Asia flight is literally bolted onto a shopping mall. You therefore drag your case and carry on bags past all the shops before you arrive at departures. Very few signs, it is merely stumbled upon. I wonder how many people have gone out for a leisurely shop and ended up on a flight to Vietnam…

So, I ended up in the airport and like most overseas airports I have visited, the first thing you do (or so I thought) is get all your bags scanned before check in. So, scanned and through, I wandered, somewhat aimlessly and also alone, through the airport looking for check in. After 10 minutes of walking I began to notice that I was the only one pulling a 25kg suitcase. Still, unfazed, I pressed on in true British style. Until I saw the gate. Then sheer panic set in. I had somehow managed to get all the way through immigration and 2 security checks with my suitcase that contained items such as razor blades, aerosols etc etc. Rather worrying when you think about it!

At that precise moment my thoughts we not about the lack of proper airport security checks but more of how on earth am I going to get my case on the plane!!! Some rather bemused Air Asia staff took pity on me, the way they looked suggested I was the first ever person to commit such a level of idiocy. I was assured that if I took my case all the way to the plane it would be manually tagged and essentially treated like a pushchair. Thankfully it was and arrived safe and sound in Jakarta. The only thing that didn’t make it was my dignity……

So seasoned and unseasoned travelers alike, take heed. No matter how much you travel, new ‘interesting’ experiences will always find you. It’s how you deal with them that counts.

Adieu.

Kuala Lumpur – Now the fun begins

July 2, 2014

Day 5

After a few days in KL I suppose it was only fitting that I did some proper work, after all that was the reason I was there in the first place. I had spent one day at an Education Fair which was good for contacts but The Training Gateway had arranged a packed program for us all and I needed to showcase my new name badge anyway…

A bit of a disclaimer here. If you find my account of the actual trade mission tiring then I would advise you not to bother going on one. I have been on trips with people who are not ready for such an ordeal and I can tell you, it is grating. Only commit if you have the energy, drive and enthusiasm required for such a trip. This isn’t a holiday (honestly!).

After I had packed away my lilo and water wings (joke) the serious business of showcasing m2r Education began. As with all missions, an introduction into the market / country is essential and as usual, we started with a visit to the British Embassy. Above a bank. In a coach with a tour guide. I didn’t realise I had booked onto a women’s institute holiday to South East Asia. But at least I know where Michael Jackson stayed now. Shame he had no idea where the meetings were though.

I like visiting British soil when I am away, just to get a decent cup of tea mainly. However, as this was a new country for me, I went into the first set of meetings with my eyes open, the same cannot be said for other members of the group however… The information presented was very informative and certainly gave me tremendous enthusiasm for the rest of the time in KL. The facts and figures relating to Malaysia were mind blowing and the educational blueprint is certainly worth a look.

After what seemed like an eternity the initial briefings came to a close. Don’t get me wrong, they were very good, especially the one who decided to present 73 slides to an audience of rather drowsy delegates (hot, stuffy room) in a rather monotone voice…. Seriously, they were good.

Two further meetings followed, with organisations specifically aimed at the training and education sector. I am not going to bore you (any further) my dissecting every single meeting, suffice to say the company and audience were well matched. Just a shame that jet lag was following most of us around and there was a lot of head nodding to be seen…. Someone needs to make a little crane that is attached to eyelids to keep them open. Hence my point earlier, missions are tough, do not think you can breeze through them.

From my perspective, the final meeting of the day was the best. Obviously I am on a trade mission mainly for selfish reasons and therefore I am looking for recruitment related opportunities. Meeting an organisation who represented 500 international schools and were happy to push our details to them was music to my ears. One of the Directors was a guy I originally met at the education fair on the previous Saturday, he was happy to see me again and of course, cemented the fact that I represented a serious and committed organisation. Take note, on a mission always look to see what other events are happening around it and make sure you attend.

Today was also the first day the group was together for work related purposes, no cliques were developing (unlike last time…) and everyone was getting on really well. When tiredness is setting in, having a good bunch of people around you helps. It also means that we can take snaps of those who decide to catch flies at inopportune moments too…..

On all trade missions, one of the great benefits is the networking. Not just between the group but also at organised events. This was no different. So after a very quick turnaround it was out for an evening of meeting all those great and good within the world of education in KL and further afield. Slight issue though, our brilliant tour guide, yet again, had no idea where he was going. I suspect his guided tours are of his own house and even then he gets lost.

Our bus. Not lost for once.

Our bus. Not lost for once.

After 500 years we made it to the networking reception, a very nice rooftop terrace owned by the Director of UKTI in Kuala Lumpur. It is always good to be fashionably late… By 2 hours. These events are always good, if you make the most of the occasion. There have been too many times when I have witnessed people at these events just chatting to their mates and then complaining that it was a poor turnout. I am not a massive fan of networking but so far, no one has shouted at me, punched me or even been slightly rude. Just get out there, have a go and see what happens. I left with some great contacts and have never seen so many sweaty people in one place in my life. No I don’t frequent those types of places thank you.

All in all a very good first ‘proper’ day in KL. Made some good contacts, got a good overview of the landscape, only nodded off once (honest) and sweated more that I actually intended to. Thanks heavens for hotel laundry. We may have gone out to relax after an action packed day but if you think I am going to blog that, then you have another thing coming…. One more full business day in KL to follow plus a rather interesting experience at the airport en route to Jakarta to come next!! Until next time folks…

A warm welcome

A warm welcome

Kuala Lumpur. Part 2. Better do some work…

June 29, 2014

The storm is approaching……

After an epic trip, a very interesting first day, it was almost time to meet my colleagues that would / could either make or break the trip. It is so critical to be part of a dynamic, enthusiastic group when being part of a trade mission.  The days are very long and a good strong group can drag you along when quite frankly, all you want to do is sleep. I’ll put you all out of your misery straight away, the group turned out to be……

Fantastic.

Initially only one turned up. Once the pleasantries had been done it was onto far more serious matters of a trip to China Town for even more great and cheap food followed by a few hours of haggling to buy things we wanted, not necessarily needed. Amazing experience and one I would heartily recommend. It is a vibrant area of KL, great for people watching and buying umpteen handbags. A good way to end the first day and certainly meant an air of positivity was already surrounding me.

China Town Kuala Lumpur

China Town Kuala Lumpur

China Town entrance Kuala Lumpur

China Town entrance Kuala Lumpur

Day 3

The reason I decided to come early to KL was not to blag a few days holiday, it was to attend the Education Fair which was taking place over the weekend prior to the mission. As we are an education recruitment company, it was perfect timing and gave me an opportunity to meet potential clients under one roof. The exhibition was pretty well attended with international universities, schools and technical vocational training centres present. It still amazes me how organisations who want to work overseas try to generate business over email and phone, If you are genuinely committed to a market, go and meet your potential clients face to face. Having said that, I am glad that we are in a minority and long may that continue! I received a very good reception and companies were certainly keen to discuss their requirements with me.

Malaysia is driving towards a common goal, Vision 2020. By this date, the country aims to be classed as a developed nation and to achieve this, one of the main areas is education, As a company we have great experience of upskilling and providing quality educators to allow a country to achieve its dream. Hopefully we can help Malaysia too.

33rd Malaysian Education Fair

33rd Malaysian Education Fair

This was my first ever foray into the education sector in Malaysia and I left filled with optimism and very enthused about the trade mission.

Day 4

I had planned (honest!) to spend 2 full days at the Education Fair but I managed to see all the exhibitors in one day. So, ‘annoyingly’ I had the day off. My justification was that I had already generated some great leads from the previous day, all emailed and some invited to the forthcoming trade reception. So, with absolutely no sense of guilt I turned into a tourist for the day. I heartily recommend going on the tour to the top of the Petronas Towers, the views are stunning. Again, now I have been I can confidently discuss roles in KL which will automatically elevate us over our ‘competitors’ who have never been.

View from the top of the Petronas Towers 2

From the top of the Petronas Towers

That evening was the first opportunity to meet the rest of the delegation. Now I have been on numerous missions over the years and meeting a new group is always a nervous affair, what if we don’t get on? We are all stuck with each other. Thankfully, nothing is further from the truth and yes, I do observe the bribery act. Great bunch, really focussed, some more sleepy than others, but everyone sharing the common goal of winning business. Brilliant. As usual no names mentioned!

This was shaping up to be a very good trip……….

 

27hrs to Kuala Lumpur. Just another crazy trip in the life of m2r…

June 28, 2014

The calm before the storm…

It is rare that a blog starts with an apology, unless you are a member of the current England football team. I am not and never will be. Thankfully. Anyway, apologies. This blog post is 2 weeks overdue but read all the following posts and you will understand why.

On the 11th June I embarked on our most ambitious business trip yet. A mere 6000 mile ‘hop’ to Kuala Lumpur, crossing the Equator via Jakarta on the way. The journey would last 27 hours. The same time it will take to read these series of posts (joke). To be fair, this didn’t phase me, mainly because I had not done such a journey for over 10 years and that was to Oz for a holiday. So, I had no recollection of what to expect and although I was warned about the humidity, again, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to face.

This trip was another trade mission, organised by the marvelous Training Gateway and UKTI. If you recall, I was part of a delegation to Oman, Qatar and Abu Dhabi in December of last year. If you have no idea what on earth I am going on about, search the blog. If you are already bored, then go make a sandwich.

This trade mission would last for 10 days, span the hemispheres, be mentally and physically taxing but ultimately spawn new clients and a new network of friends.

Day 1

After 25 hours via Dubai, I landed in Jakarta, along with the trade mission leader. Within a millisecond of clearing immigration I looked as if I had my own comedy rain cloud following me. It was not pleasant or easy on the nose. My traveling companion on the other hand, looked no different, as if she was walking around in permanent air con. It cost $25USD to sweat profusely in Jakarta for all of 2 hours. Well worth it. Following an uneventful if slightly niffy Air Asia flight to Kuala Lumpur and therefore crossing the Equator for the second time in 4 hours, the epic journey was over. Just the matter of a 90min drive to the hotel. In air con thankfully.

We stayed at the Grand Millennium Hotel in KL, lovely spot for 6 days. Slap bang in the middle of everything which is great, unless you want to sleep. Luckily I was jet lagged to high heaven and therefore sleep, unfortunately, was not on the agenda.

Day 2

After all of 3 hours, I awoke to a brand new view in my quest to develop overseas education for m2r Education.

The view of Kuala Lumpur from my hotel room

The view of Kuala Lumpur from my hotel room

As we are in the business of expatriation, it is very important that I get a good vibe as we, as a business, need to be confident that our teachers will enjoy their new surroundings. So far, so good. I arrived in KL 1 day before I had to do any actual work and 3 days before the actual mission was due to start. I used the time to get a good feel for the city, basically a fact finding mission. It also gave me some time to acclimatise, essential when about to embark on a packed programme which lasts from morning til night, every day. As you know from my posts, no names mentioned, but I suspect certain people will follow my lead next time and not arrive the evening before the mission begins, especially when the journey and time difference can be your enemy. You know who you are!!!

KL is a very interesting city and I was very impressed with how they look after the walking community. There are air conditioned, covered walkways which make crossing some parts of the city an absolute doddle. Generally when I travel overseas for work, I cannot walk anywhere for too long due to the heat, but here, there were no issues. Which was good because I had visions of resembling the witch from Wizard of Oz. You know, the ‘I’m melting scene…..’ I was advised to go to the Petronas Towers. When I arrived, I understood why. Simply stunning.

Petronas Twin Towers

Petronas Twin Towers

To take this photo, go the Traders Hotel at night, obviously. Watch out for the pool when you get out of the lift…..

I had the pleasure of using KL’s very good monorail system, it is pretty straightforward to use but for some reason, a 15 min trip to Little India for lunch turned into scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Still, not complaining as I got to see more of the city which all helps in my line of work.

KL certainly is a melting pot and I never felt uneasy at any point. Everyone was very friendly, the city is clean and food, well, stunning and incredible value for money. I was certainly confident of being able to promote the city to would be Teachers and Trainers looking for jobs in Malaysia.

anana Leaf Curry in Little India. £2 and stunning.

Banana Leaf Curry in Little India. £2 and stunning.

At this point the rest of the 28 person delegation had yet to arrive but that would change pretty soon…….

Exciting new ESL roles in Saudi Arabia! Teach in brand new colleges, August 2014 start dates.

April 24, 2014

If you approach life with energy, an enquiring mind and a sense of adventure then you’re what we’re looking for.

We have ESL teaching jobs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with roles available in both Al’Quwaiiyah (male & female) & Dammam (female).

The hiring company are a UK consortium company, made up of leading suppliers of vocational skills and employment programmes in the UK. They have been awarded a five year contract to provide training services for the esteemed Colleges of Excellence in Saudi Arabia delivering English and vocational curriculum across three colleges.

A teaching job with them offers you the chance to enjoy so much more than just work. The opportunity to explore the wealth of activities on offer as well as discovering a new country and rich cultural history are just some of the benefits of joining us in one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

Landing a job in Saudi Arabia will provide you with adventures and experiences you never imagined, giving you the opportunity to tell stories back home that your friends and family will never tire of hearing.

This is an incredible opportunity for anyone seeking the chance of a life-time, whether you’re based in a desert town or large city setting, this will be an experience like no other!

All Tutors will provide high quality teaching and access to learning, teaching English Language to students within the college group.

It is expected that the post holders will contribute to course design, development and review of the English Language programmes, sharing best practice and ideas for improvement where these are identified. They have staggered contract start dates throughout the summer, including July and early August 2014.

Team work is critical to their success, so upon joining the team a full induction will take place in the UK before you depart, which will be followed by a local induction taking place upon arrival in KSA.

This will be built around understanding the business, your role and the new environment you will be working and living in, whilst providing the opportunity to make some friends within the wider team.

The minimum requirements to apply for the role are as follows:

  • A minimum of three years’ teaching experience, preferably in an adult environment.
  • Where you are not a native English speaker, have an IELTS 7.5 or equivalent. You will be required to provide evidence of this prior to your interview.
  • Bachelor’s degree in English Language or Literature, TESOL, Applied Linguistics or education.
  • Hold a minimum of a CELTA qualification or equivalent. A DELTA qualification (or equivalent) being desirable.
  • Evidence of dynamic and innovative teaching practice.
  • Knowledge & ability to demonstrate an understanding of course structures, lesson planning, along with different learning styles and teaching methods.
  • Excellent communication and organisation skills.
  • A passion for people and the challenge of taking them on a journey.
  • Excellent ICT skills, an ICT qualification would be advantageous.

The package includes the following:

  • Salary of £24,000 – £32,000pa (Tax Free), depending on skills, experience and competence.
  • Flights to Saudi Arabia, with a return flight at the end of your contract;
  • Accommodation will be provided, along with transport to and from the college;
  • Health Insurance;
  • Visa;
  • End of Contract gratuity payment;
  • Mobile phone with credit, upon arrival to ensure that you can stay connected with the important people in your life.
  • Competitive holiday allowance.

Where applications are received from people outside of the UK, web based assessments will be utilised to assess competence, skills and experience. Possible assessment centres will be arranged in Saudi Arabia too.

The Assessment Centres will require the candidates to prepare a Micro Teach session, complete a competency based interview and participate in a group activity.

We are currently planning to hold assessments in the following locations:

London: 3 & 4th May 2014

(Further locations will be added when sufficient candidates are available)

Due to the high volumes of applications, only applicants short-listed for interview will be contacted.

Go to www.m2rglobal.com to apply.

Want a great ESL job in Saudi but don’t have a CELTA? No problem!!

February 7, 2014

m2r are seeking applications from qualified ESL Teachers who wish to work at a major university in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. NO CELTA REQUIRED TO ATTEND AN INTERVIEW AND GET AN OFFER.*

Teach English in Riyadh!

Teach English in Riyadh!

Contracts are one year renewable and positions are open to both male and female Teachers. Start date will be August 2014, ready for the new academic year and interviews are taking place between February and April in the UK and USA. We have a huge number of positions and offers will be made on the day.

Package includes visa, tax free basic salary dependent upon your qualifications and experience, accommodation and transportation to and from work (allowances for male teachers), Class A medical insurance, return flights, visa and mobile phone + SIM card. Full orientation is provided too.

Minimum criteria to apply: 2yrs full time classroom based ESL experience and BA degree. *You must have a CELTA / 120hr classroom based TEFL qualification by August 2014 to be able to join. Middle East experience is preferred but not essential. Due to visa regulations we can only accept applications from US, UK, Irish, Australian and New Zealand passport holders under the age of 58.

If you meet the minimum criteria then please contact us ASAP for an interview and more information. You are also more than welcome to drop by on the day, but please remember to bring hard copies of your CV, passport and qualifications otherwise an offer cannot be made.

We may be able to arrange a Skype or Riyadh based interview if required.

Interview dates and locations:

Feb 26th, 27th Leeds, Hilton DoubleTree

March 1st, 2nd, London, Hilton Kensington

March 27th, 28th Portland (TESOL OREGON)

March 30th, 31st New York, Hilton Midtown

April 25th, 26th Leeds, Hilton DoubleTree

April 28th, 29th London, Hilton Kensington

Please mention ‘m2r interviews’ when you arrive at the venue.

For a confirmed interview, contact Amy Anderson amy@m2rglobal.com or Charlotte Watson charlotte@m2rglobal.com now!

We look forward to hearing from you.

m2r at IEFE 2014

February 7, 2014

For the first time, I decided to visit IEFE (International Exhibition and Forum for Education) in Riyadh. The exhibition was being held at Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Centre, bizarrely, a place which few taxi drivers actually knew! Take note – it is no more that 30SAR  by taxi from Olaya, not the 60SAR that I was charged on the first day!

Riyadh Exhibition Centre

Riyadh Exhibition Centre

The event itself was marketed as an opportunity for international companies with a focus on education to interact and form partnerships with similar minded organisations from Saudi Arabia and the wider GCC. From what I witnessed, this seems to have been accomplished. Exhibitors included schools, colleges, universities, technology companies plus government entities and all were very welcoming and open to hearing about innovative services and products which could benefit them.

IEFE 2014

IEFE 2014

IEFE 2014

IEFE 2014

I was in attendance to promote our services, namely offering international support in reference to the recruitment and supply of Teachers and Trainers. Due to the high demand of these professionals in the Kingdom, I was very well received and made some excellent contacts. Being from the UK also helped, there is still a huge affinity with Great Britain and this did not go unnoticed. The UKTI stand was very popular and the staff manning it did a sterling job of promoting all the good things the country has to offer. I was privileged to have our brochures and new cast study on the stand too, this meant we were always at the forefront of all conversations regarding the supply of Teachers and Trainers into Saudi Arabia. I did receive some strong leads through visitors and also exhibitors approaching the stand too.

The wealth of information on the UKTI stand

The wealth of information on the UKTI stand

The wealth of information on the UKTI stand (including our brochures!)

The wealth of information on the UKTI stand (including our brochures!)

It was interesting to see the number of school children who came to the exhibition during the morning session, I am not overly sure what benefit (if any) they gained from this, apart from leaving with bag upon bag of pens, mugs and company literature, which I am sure they will read from cover to cover. I even witnessed one child pushing a shopping trolley as their arms could not carry the number of company products and goodies that they had procured.

Obviously I had my own agenda and if the contacts I made turn into business, then it will have been worthwhile.

If not, at least I will never run out of pens and mugs again.

Our brochure on the UKTI stand

Our brochure on the UKTI stand

Cats and violins

December 13, 2013

So here we are. The final night of the final trip of 2013. And what a year. We have visited 6 countries, done 18 flights, attended countless meetings and generated some fantastic new business as well as cementing those existing relationships. It has been tiring, stressful but very fulfilling and we will be doing it all over again in 2014.
I am writing this looking out at the corniche in Abu Dhabi. Very nice it is too. If Carlsberg did final hotels to round off a business trip……..

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Abu Dhabi certainly has some great potential for us and will be explored in much greater detail, as will the rest of the UAE. As with the rest of the GCC, education and training are two areas of huge focus and demand, therefore our wonderful services should be in great demand. Based on the conversations I have had, I feel very confident of having a good client base here by the end of 2014.
Trade Missions are always interesting vehicles in which to do business. Great for contacts but I do feel that some people come on these and expect it to be a bit of a jolly. They are not. Please, if you expect to have loads of ‘down time’ and be mollycoddled from the minute you arrive, don’t come. Simple as that. You are using a place that an adult could have taken.
Regarding my current location, I have to say it is simply stunning. This hotel is incredible and thank God we are part of the soft opening otherwise I would be washing dishes to pay for it. The £50k Christmas tree in the lobby says it all.

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I arrive home tomorrow, slightly nervous as to the amount of work we are going to have to do next year, over and above what we already have, but in today’s climate, I am not grumbling. To those who moaned and complained about the intensity of this particular trip, I am sure when you reflect you will realise how beneficial all the meetings were. If you don’t, stay at home and keep stirring the cauldron.
To the St Regis hotel, thank you for your amazing hotel but do us all a favour, change the music around the pool. It sounds like a cat has been trapped in a violin.
To the Training Gateway, the trip was too hectic and no water on the coach nearly killed me. (Joke, but then you already know that). Looking forward to being part of the next one.
Merry Christmas folks.

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And now, the end is near….

November 28, 2013

Well, as there is absolutely nothing to do here at King Fahd International Airport I may as well post my last Saudi trip related blog. Oh no I hear you cry! OH NO I HEAR YOU CRY. That’s better. (Pantomime season is almost upon us).

It has been an eventful 2 weeks. Riyadh was great for business, the focus was entirely on education and training and it was a great success. The city is massive, rammed with traffic and some pretty impressive buildings and unbelievably terrible driving.

My hotel, the Al Khozama oozed old school chic and service. Very friendly staff who actually took an interest as opposed to the plastic ones you get in some much bigger properties. I have not stayed in a hotel where you hand your proper key into reception when you leave every day for some time. Pretty cool actually.

Al Khozama Hotel, Riyadh

Al Khozama Hotel, Riyadh

 

The rain was heavy. Very heavy. Closing the whole of Saudi was slightly melodramatic but considering the state of the driving, lack of drainage and dodgy bridge constructions, I could see why. It was amusing to see pictures of one guy jet skiing down a road in Riyadh and another using a polystyrene block a as a raft! However a few years ago over 1000 people died in Jeddah due to the floods so it is an issue which needs to be addressed.

I will skirt over my aching back etc as I am sure you are just as fed up with it as I am. Safe to say it still aches, thanks for asking.

As usual the hospitality of my clients never ceases to amaze me. I genuinely do not expect anything in the way of gifts and I feel very awkward accepting them but it is rude to do anything else. It is very humbling and extremely kind. Receiving a wonderful gift from a candidate was even more surprising, most people we get a job for seem to disappear into the ether, so to feel a genuine warmth and gratitude makes my job a whole lot easier and satisfying. ‘Thank you’ is such an emotive phrase when delivered with dignity and feeling.

Of course I could not remain professional all the time:
*Sitting in the middle of the family section in the poshest hotel in Riyadh (Ritz Carlton) before being rescued by my client.
*Trying to open a wall thinking it was a door in another very posh hotel (Four Seasons).
*Being mistaken and then confirming that I am the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (he is over 6ft and white) so easy mistake…
*Killing time by going to a mall before discovering none of the shops would be opening for another 3 hours and I could not go anywhere so had to wander around aimlessly whilst the security guards wondered what on earth I was doing.

So you can see, international recruiter supreme I may be, but interspersed with bouts of idiocy.

After Riyadh I flew up to the Eastern Province to hook up with the UKTI trade mission. I always enjoy these missions as it is an excellent opportunity to make good contacts and showcase the company. As this part of Saudi was my route to entry several years ago, I always end up trying to see more people than I actually have time for. Plus the Arab culture is to arrange a meeting with nano seconds notice meaning a rigid schedule is never a good idea. I didn’t do too badly, a mix of confirmed and off the cuff meetings were had and all went pretty well. Even the bizarre client meeting (with a group that we have had tremendous recent success with) where one of the guys decided to rip into me for no reason whatsoever and I almost walked out. Even this one ended with us confirming more business and a vote of thanks! I am still shaking my head as to what twilight zone I wandered into.

It was particularly interesting to see some expat compounds. That is all I am saying on the matter!!

In summary, 2014 is going to be immense. My head hurts in trying to work out how we are going to fit it all in, but we will and it will all be a tremendous success. Coupled with the new contracts we have signed in Bahrain and Oman, plus existing clients increasing their requirements, I suspect next year will pass in a blink of an eye.

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Time flies

November 22, 2013

Has it been a week already? I am sure Riyadh has a time warp of some sort, after all, it has everything else!
My meetings went very well, clients were extremely appreciative of the effort I have made to come and visit them. I am genuinely interested in building solid partnerships and this has been gratefully accepted. When I work with organisations that truly value our support, input and advice, it makes the job easier and also gives added motivation to assist. Here I am treated as a partner and an equal and it is truly refreshing.

I still find it amazing that UK recruitment companies who want to work overseas but cannot be bothered to make the business trips required in order to cement relationships. This is why we are building an excellent reputation and you are not. Long may your laziness be our catalyst for growth.

As usual my trips are always laced with a modicum of hilarity, generally attributed to me leaving my brain back in the hotel room. This time was no exception. I think trying to open a wall thinking it was a door probably ranks as number one, but for those who understand the culture here, plonking myself down slap bang in the middle of the family section at the Ritz Carlton whilst waiting for my dinner companions ranks very close indeed. I think my utter naivety was the saving grace here.

If you are going to mistakenly sit in the family section, there are worse places than this..

If you are going to mistakenly sit in the family section, there are worse places than this..

Ritz Carlton, Riyadh. The most amazingly opulent hotel I have seen.

Riyadh is certainly a haven for shopping and opulence on a grand scale. I have never seen so many Versace shops in one city before, not to mention Leboutin, Louis Vuitton, Bugatti, Chanel and Debenhams. The past week has been an eye opener for me too. Having only worked in the Eastern Province before, I have never seen women’s only floors in malls with security guards making sure that it is a bone fide woman wishing to enter. Shops only open to families, men and women’s queues at fast food outlets and separate offices for sexes too. But, at no point have I felt any concern or have had any issues, totally the opposite. Everyone I have met has been friendly, helpful (apart from the taxi driver who dropped me at the wrong place and then admitted he could not read and had very bad eyesight) and gave me no cause to worry at all.

I have been treated to amazing dinners in unbelievable settings, received extremely humbling gifts and experienced hospitality that in the UK, companies would not even dream of doing. Nothing has been too much.

Trips to the British Embassy, major universities and colleges were extremely interesting and I leave with a knowledge bank that will now help to develop our strategy for 2014 and beyond. Companies need our help and we are best placed to serve. I plan to come back back in February for an education conference, I am sure this will come round in a blink of an eye.

The Kingdom Tower, Riyadh. An amazing building.

The Kingdom Tower, Riyadh. An amazing building.

Next stop Eastern Province – I wonder what the next week (aka 5 minutes) will bring.