Sharan Hussain is a British mum of 2 from Greenwich. Beverley Rose is a British mum of 2 from Suffolk. Both share a passion for travel that has led them to build their own successful, mum-friendly careers as Travel Counsellors. Here they tell us more about life in Dubai and how they manage being career women and mums.
Lots of us living here are home away from home. Where’s your hometown in the UK and do you think that Dubai feels like home to you?
Sharan – I’ve been in Dubai for 13 years, and it definitely feels like home – even more so since we bought our first property here.
Bev – I’m originally from London too, although our family lived in a village for 15 years so we’ve found Dubai to be a different pace of life. I’ll admit we did find it quite difficult to leave our family and friends behind, but it does feel like home now as we’re all really happy and we managed to settle in quite quickly. Making good friends is key in Dubai (and I’m lucky to say that many have been through my work, which has been lovely).
With your job, you must have the world at your fingertips! What has been your favourite holiday destination and why?
Bev – That’s so tricky but Lapland when my kids were younger. The look on my children’s faces seeing Santa will stay with me forever and coming in a close second would be Florida as when they got older, there was a huge variety of fun things to do there. Also, I’m squeezing in the Canadian Rockies for the beautiful landscapes and fresh air we don’t get here.
Sharan – It would have to be the Seychelles – and staying at Silhouette Island. Never have I been to a more natural place; so serene, so exquisite and yet so simple in life too.
It’s not long until the end of the school term. What are your plans for spending this long summer holiday?
Bev – At the beginning of the Summer we are off to Portugal then I’m in the UK for 5 weeks where I’ll be able to do lots of work while the kids have fun with family and friends. From Dubai we are going to Mauritius just before the kids return to school. We don’t normally have holidays in the summer but we haven’t travelled as much as we would have liked to lately so we’ve decided to treat ourselves this year.
Sharan – We’re off to England for a few weeks, working from home, catching up with family, some UK retail therapy and a few day trips to see friends and family. We’re off to Spain before heading back to Dubai. I like to plan all my holidays so I do feel pretty organised and I usually know exactly what I need in terms of shopping too!
So you’ll know that most British mums stock up on things when we visit the UK. What are your must-have items to pack in your suitcase that you can’t be without?
Bev – Greeting cards and loads of chocolate because it just doesn’t taste the same does it?
Sharan – Mine’s the usual suspects like hair, skincare and make up essentials. I tend to go light so I can come back with loads of shopping from John Lewis, M&S, Anthropolgy and I’ll always have a look in Primark for their great prices too!
I think we’re all excited to be heading back home soon… What is it about home that you miss the most?
Sharan – It would have to be the lakes and parks, the garden and seeing ladybirds – and probably the sound of the ice cream van coming down the street! I think my kids love the novelty of being able to wash the cars, hop on and off buses and trains and their annual trip to see the Queen.
Bev – Mine is walking our dog on the green fields and beaches near our house. I know the kids miss playing football in the mud but I don’t miss cleaning their muddy boots or filthy kits!
What age were your children when you returned to work and did you struggle much trying to balance being a mum and working?
Bev – My husband worked away when we lived in the UK so it was quite difficult for me to return to my previous role in travel once I had children. Instead I volunteered at the local preschool and primary school when they were little and went on become a teaching assistant and obtain a college qualification. It was a struggle at times especially when one of them was ill, as working mums know, so it’s been great returning to travel and being a Travel Counsellor as I have complete flexibility and control of my schedule.
Sharan – My daughter was 5 and my son was 2.5 years when I went back to work, (doing what I’m doing now). It was a bit tough at first just getting into the swing of the changes and the big thing for me is that I still wanted to be available for the children so they didn’t feel I was missing anything. It’s made a huge difference having family that have been understanding and encouraging and the children have adjusted really well. It’s helped that I’ve kept them involved of course – I’m always talking about my work and explaining what mummy does – and at the same time we’re able to go places, educate them about Geography and see the world, which we all love.
So what does a Travel Counsellor actually do?
Bev – We build a relationship with our customers by getting to know them personally. People choose to travel for a variety of reasons and everyone has their likes and dislikes, so whether it’s a getaway to relax and unwind, a sightseeing trip, adventure holiday or even a business trip, we tailor make travel arrangements to suit our customers personal preferences.
Sharan – Much the same for me; I really see myself as a travel experience specialist – with an eye for detail and we’re all 100% dedicated towards providing the travel arrangements that someone’s looking for.
What made you decide to become a Travel Counsellor
Bev – I had been in the travel industry for a long time prior to coming to Dubai and about 1 year after we relocated here I saw the opportunity to own my own business, in an industry that I love, plus it fitted around my family as I could run the business from home. I am now into my third year as a Travel Counsellor and it continues to be a perfect fit. Lots of people in Dubai are very well travelled or have a passion for travel so being a Travel Counsellor is an attractive option to them. It’s not essential to have a travel industry background to be a TC as they have an academy program, you’ve just got to be self-motivated and organised which has worked well for me!
Sharan – I was looking for a new challenge and I wanted to get back into work in travel after having kids, but it had to be something that I could manage alongside my parenting role. I didn’t realise when I first heard about them, that’s it’s a huge company with ½ a Billion pounds turnover and there are 1,600 of us in the global team. It means that we have really strong buying power (so we can offer holidays that are great value for money at the end of the day.) The team here give you the professional development you need to reinstall the confidence that you need when you’ve been out of the workplace for a while and that was really important to me. I’m pretty sure I’m making a difference as almost of my all my clients have become repeat customers, and that’s a real motivator.
How do you juggle being both a mum and Travel Counsellors?
Bev – I have two sporty kids who have a lot of after school matches and activities. I like to go along and support them and this wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t organise my working week well.
Sharan – Exactly! Organisation is key. I’m a busy person and I have plans for pretty much everything in my life! From the business plan, kid’s school/activities plan, meal plans and of course some “me” plans.
What is your ideal mum’s ‘me time’ then?
Bev – I must be getting old because a nice bubble bath and an early night is the ideal me time after a really busy week.
Sharan – I love Hatha and Ashtanga yoga, I think I’ve made ‘retail therapy’ an obvious one, but I also love having dinner with my friends, following stock market trading and I think I have a slight addiction to spa’s coming on (following a recent visit to Talise!)
What’s the last book you read and last TV series you watched?
Bev – The last book I read was Behind Closed Doors which my sister lent me and was about the so called ‘perfect marriage’ and I recently watched the controversial Thirteen Reasons Why series because I wanted to see for myself what everyone was talking about. I found it very uncomfortable viewing but an important watch in today’s world, especially having teenagers myself.
Sharan – I’m not a huge fan of TV unless its Bloomberg – the last book I read was about the brief history of mankind and I like to read poetry too.
You’ve both lived in Dubai for some time so you must have discovered a few hidden gems in your time here. Please share your favourite places to go and things to do that will be great tips for other British mums!
Bev – I really can’t claim to have discovered many gems myself because I get all my tips from British Mums Dubai group! For the amount of time I spend taking my kids to sports fixtures I think I could tell you where every school in Dubai is though!
Sharan – Being an old soul who loves history, I recently found this quaint shop near the trade centre selling antiques from around the world, but mostly from Persia, but my favourite spot has to be Kite beach – the sea is just amazing.
What’s your favourite family-friendly restaurant in Dubai and why?
Bev – As my kids are older its more about the food that they like so it’s Jumeriah islands Club, Maison Mathis or PF Changs for us.
Sharan – We love going to eat at Wagamama, Zaroob and Pars Iranian Kitchen as well as the buzzing food stations at Saffron – Atlantis.
When you have friends of family visiting for the first time, what are your top 3 hidden gems to show them in Dubai?
Bev – A BBQ in the desert watching the sun go down is always a hit and the ladies especially like the afternoon tea at the Palace.
Sharan – Taking visitors on a platinum heritage desert safari is always a hit – as is a trip to Bastakiya for a more local cultural feeling and then Meena Bazaar to make a small yet worthy investment. Everyone appreciates the glittery skyline at sunset and modern infrastructure that sets this city apart from many.
If you have a burning passion for travel along with a sprinkling of entrepreneurial spirit then finding out a bit more about running your own home-based business as a Travel Counsellor could also be for you!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more or you can also register for one of the upcoming free discovery presentations;