Career Advice From Sinead El Sibai

With a career in marketing spanning three decades SINEAD EL SIBAI, Senior Vice President of Marketing at DUBAI DUTY FREE, tells THE GLOSS what she’s learned about business …


What has had a formative influence on your career?

Joining the advertising agency, Fortune Promoseven in Dubai in October 1988 had a major influence on my career in marketing. I was new to Dubai and new to the role of PR manager and had to learn a huge amount about the Middle East and about the PR role, and I had to learn it quickly. I was spurred on a great deal by the agency’s Irish managing director, Donal Kilalea, who had great energy (and still has) and he encouraged me to push myself and learn fast.

Are there any how-to manuals or books which you recommend?

I have no doubt that there are some great how-to books out there, but nothing can replace experience in the workplace and I would encourage anyone to work hard and be prepared to learn something new from everyone you work with.

What would your advice be to others hoping to have a career in marketing?

There are so many facets to marketing and it really can be a very exciting career choice, but you have to be prepared to work hard, to pay your dues, to listen and learn from those who have experience and to work long hours, there is no clocking off at 5pm.

What are some of the achievements of which you are most proud?

I am proud to have worked with Colm McLoughlin and the team at Dubai Duty Free on so many world class events that have helped promote Dubai as a leading sports and leisure destination. Being involved in organising and promoting a major event such as the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which attracts the top tennis players in the world, is such a great experience and you learn so much from it. As an Irish person I am also very proud when our events in Ireland – the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open – are a big success.

What have you learned about the rules of business over the last few decades?

I have had great opportunities in my career here in the UAE over the past almost three decades and being a female has never worked against me, so if anything I have learnt that there are no barriers to women succeeding in business.

What are the key staples of your working wardrobe?

A well-cut trouser suit, preferably not black, and a long-sleeved wrap dress that can work from day to evening.

Penny McCormick

The Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup is coming up in November (22 – 23), which attracts over 120 players from the travel retail industry for two days in Dubai. Also in Dubai, the Dubai Airshow and Gala Dinner will be staged at the Atlantis, The Palm (December 15) with a performance from Jennifer Lopez.

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