Six inspiring women travel the world for work, rest and play
What does travel mean to fearless females who are, quite literally, conquering the world? We spoke to six inspirational women who are killing it in the workplace. Between them they’ve lived in and worked all over the world in high-profile jobs with companies including Instagram, Nike and The United Nations to name a few.
They all travel for work, pleasure, and to better themselves. Find out about their career highlights, and how both business and personal travel has changed their lives:
Priya Patel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Occupation: Brand Development Lead - Instagram.
Career highlights: The opportunity to live all over the world for work has been fantastic. I’ve had a 16 year career in some incredible companies and countries. At 28, I relocated from the UK to Singapore, to help run advertising for BBC World News; I’ve always admired the BBC and moving to Asia enabled me to have so many unique experiences. During my time in Singapore I switched from TV to Digital, to work with Google. Later I got itchy feet again and relocated with Google to Dubai. This brought a new set of challenges both in business operation, and because the society is still quite patriarchal. As a woman, I had to work harder and be more vocal than ever before - but this drive and attitude paid off. My most recent career highlight was moving to Facebook 3 years ago to help shape Instagram's business across the region. It's a project that I was, and am, immensely proud and excited to be a part of. Instagram is an incredible platform which combines discovery and inspiration, showcasing everything from travel, food and fashion - all things I love! My job allows me to meet members of the community who are so passionate about Instagram, and to travel around the Middle East educating both communities and advertisers.
What does travel mean to you, in both a professional and personal capacity? For me, travel is the ultimate nourishment for the soul. I love the feeling of excitement and trepidation that is present throughout every trip I take. I have been lucky to travel extensively both personally and professionally, and have so far been to 56 countries; every single experience gives me so much knowledge and energy. Personally I love to travel for new experiences, to see our stunning world in its purest form, to see how people live elsewhere; to hear what they hear, and to taste what they eat. I love food so every trip is a journey of food discovery too! Travel for work is usually a lot more structured, but I still love to meet new people, understand how they think and feel about their country, be introduced to their favourite places and have unique experiences. Last year on a work trip I was lucky enough to be on a private tour of the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, one of many priceless experiences.
Favourite female empowerment quote: - 'The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’ - Eleanor Roosvelt
Joslyn Thompson Rule, London, UK
Occupation: Nike Global Master Trainer, Crossfit Coach and Sports Therapist
Career highlights: For the past 6 years I have worked with Nike as one of their Global Master Trainers. This incredible role has enabled me to travel the world educating and recruiting trainers, consult on new products, and spend time both behind and in front of the camera on numerous global ad campaigns. Delivering fitness education to the Indian market and helping to develop some of the incredible trainers there has been a definite highlight.
What does travel mean to you, in both a professional and personal capacity? In a professional capacity it means that I can deliver the importance of health education globally to ensure individual ownership of health under the guidance of excellent trainers with the right skill set to deliver long lasting change. Through my work with Nike I have travelled to their global campus in Portland, Oregon and European HQ in The Netherlands. I have also travelled to South Africa, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Estonia, Latvia and France working with Nike trainers from around the world. As a Crossfit competitor I’ve travelled to Denmark and Sweden and on a personal level, travel is wonderful down time spent with my family enjoying new experiences together .
Favourite female empowerment quote:
“The most important relationship you have, is the one you have with yourself; you must have full faith in your gut instinct, it will not fail you, doubt will!”
Lily Sommer, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Occupation: Trade Policy Expert, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
Career highlights: The ultimate highlight of my career was the precursor to my career. I was the first student at my London inner-city state school to ever attend an Oxbridge institution. Studying at the University of Cambridge, and subsequently the London School of Economics, provided me with the foundations required to get me where I am today. Since my studies, my career has just fallen into place.
What does travel mean to you, in both a professional and personal capacity?
Travel has defined the person I am today. I am lucky enough to have travelled extensively from a very young age to places such as Indonesia, The Gambia, Australia and India. This has broadened my horizons. Meeting people from different cultures has helped me to see issues and problems from different angles, and being stuck in sticky situations in foreign countries has equipped me to handle uncertainties and setbacks in life. Working for the United Nations has also provided me with fantastic opportunities to travel all over the world. With my role at the UN I’ve visited many destinations, including Khartoum in Sudan, Buenos Aires in Argentina and Lagos in Nigeria. Travelling for work has enhanced my adaptability to different work cultures, networking practices and institutions.
Favourite female empowerment quote
“Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists
Ogo Okafor, London, UK
Occupation: Marketing Officer, Southbank Centre. Previously Marketing & Events Coordinator, IC Publications, a pan-African publishing house.
Career highlights: So many! Currently I work on literature event campaigns with Tom Hanks, Hillary Clinton, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chibundu Onuzo, and Zadie Smith to name a few. I also work on London Literature Festival and it’s amazing to be involved in the London arts scene.
Looking back I realise I was often too busy to really consider the amazing opportunities I’ve had through previous jobs. I’ve met several African presidents, attended World Bank meetings and was able to tap into a wealth of information about the work local African women do as community organisers.
Three of my favourite business trips (it was impossible to narrow down to just one):
Marrakesh, Morocco. We held an awards ceremony at the Taj Palace. Simply stunning. It featured celebrity performers including John Legend, Mos Def and Youssou N'Dour! Listening to these performances in the grounds of such a majestic venue, under the midnight stars, was unforgettable.
Kigali, Rwanda. Such a beautiful city! Here I worked with a local with street smarts and business acumen to rival any of the big dogs we hold as the standard in the west. He was the most efficient person I have ever worked with in my life. Such a pleasure.
Arusha, Tanzania. A rare business trip that offered a little tourist time - we went to an outdoor nightclub followed by street-food in the early hours with local colleagues. We also went on a safari. A pack of baboons ran across the road in front of our car - scary as the driver refused to close the window despite telling us that baboons could bite our fingers off!
What does travel mean to you, in both a professional and personal capacity? Travelling for work and pleasure are very different; for work you navigate as a business customer rather than a tourist. Instead of locating bars, you are trying to locate printers that can print in A4, and post offices that sell fancy envelopes. You see a country beyond the tourist infrastructure and instead more like a local, which I appreciate.
Personal travel has made me more fearless. Memorably at 24 I took my first solo trip, to Krakow, Poland. I was eager to experience travel as an independent woman and researched like crazy to find a great hostel, things to do and get the heads up on safety measures (I was cautious of being a young black woman travelling alone). Personal travel brings out the history and architecture geek in me. Something I rarely explore in London. Travelling with my husband and my friends is also a great means of nurturing relationships.
Favourite female empowerment quote: I'm not one for quotes, but I do like hearing statements about women learning to love themselves in their entirety. Confidence is an underestimated weapon in my opinion so I'm here for the encouragement.
Victoria Roberts, London, UK
Occupation: Full-stack software engineer, Ascential Events [Ed - coding for those less tech-savy among us]
Career highlights: Switching from a career at Channel 4 television to learn to code in my 30s, landing my first job as a developer, and realising it's never too late to chase your dreams.
What does travel mean to you, in both a professional and personal capacity? I am lucky to have seen amazing things in the far corners of the world and develop my professional skillset along the way - developing my digital skills through travel blogging, working at a magazine publication in Bolivia, as well as learning Spanish throughout Central and South America. I find travel a really personal thing. You can visit the same place as someone else - even at the same time - but what you see and feel creates your own individual experience that is unique to only you.
Favourite female empowerment quote
"The word ‘female,’ when inserted in front of something, is always with a note of surprise. Female COO, female pilot, female surgeon — as if the gender implies surprise … One day there won’t be female leaders. There will just be leaders."
- Sheryl Sandberg, Technology Executive and COO of Facebook.
Meera Judge, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Occupation: I am the Business Development Manager for a Capital Markets firm in the finance industry. I manage a team of 15 traders and work to develop the business covering risk, compliance, legal and business strategy.
Career highlights: Being headhunted for my current role in Dubai, by an old colleague who I met once over 3 years ago. I was the first person he thought of when he needed a Business Manager for the office here (he is the Senior Executive Officer) and at 34 I am one of the youngest woman of ethnicity in such a role. The opportunity to travel outside the City of London and make a name for myself in one of the fastest growing finance sectors outside of Europe this last year has been thrilling.
What does travel mean to you, in both a professional and personal capacity? Travel provides me with opportunities to live a life I only grew up dreaming of as a child, and is an extension of my self development and education. Whether it be the culture of the country, the people, the food, the sightseeing, the language. Life for me is all about learning and growing as an individual and fulfilling the dreams I had as a child to educate myself and see what the rest of the world has to offer outside of what I know. Working in Dubai with it’s fantastic global air travel connections gives me the perfect opportunity to explore the Asian subcontinent, an area I never would have had the ability to visit with the busy career I have, given the distance when I lived in London.
Favourite female empowerment quote:
“She left, because she’s driven and you’re parked”. I find this applies to anything and everyone in life.
*Article released on 10th November 2018 profiling inspirational female figures in the workplace as a celebration of women globally to mark 'Equal Pay Day' in the UK.
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