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Rami Mashini: Determination + Passion = A Successful Leader

Rami Mashini, GTA’s vice president of Sales and Marketing for the Middle East, Africa, Turkey & India in a candid conversation with Charmaine Fernz talks about his passion for everything; right from work to food, a strong belief in determination leads to success and a well-balanced approach to family and career is what rounds-up his personality….

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Rami Mashini best describes his career path as driven by sheer passion and determination. The passion for being in the hospitality industry can be credited to his family-run restaurant business. He reminisces saying: “It’s common that we all worked in our restaurants which were family-owned. However, my uncles had a problem with me waiting on tables being the owner’s son and constantly gave me a piece of their mind. But for me, it was all about work – be it waiting on tables or even working in the kitchen – I loved every bit of it.”

Rami worked in his family-run restaurants for a little over three years before he pursued a career in hotel management. He then took up teaching within the military service, where he was a kitchen instructor in a small government-managed training school. Teaching as a career did not fascinate him because he wanted to travel and see the world. Following his dream, he landed in Dubai working for the Al Habtoor Metropolitan Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road for a starting salary of AED 1,200 in 1987.

He just worked a year and before leaving back for Jordan in 1988. During his time in Jordan, Rami fell back on his teaching career. The lure of Dubai was so compelling that he returned and was here to stay from 1996. He took on several roles in the food and beverage department; He proudly says: “I was the first Jordanian to be selected as the food and beverage manager at one the InterContinental Hotel Group property. This was an achievement for me as all previous F&B managers were expats.”

Rami attributes his success to the sheer passion for the industry which according to him will only make a person a better professional. He also fondly remembers the time when he came to Dubai – the hospitality industry was at just 6000-7000 rooms and is proud of what it had evolved to today. He consistently also interacts with hoteliers of new and existing properties to see how best they can further improve the hospitality industry.

Moving ahead in his career, the game-changer in his life was his new assignment at GTA in 2003. This move opened doors to global exposure with extensive travel. His new job gave him many opportunities to forge successful partnerships, one of which was with DTCM. He even received an award for GTA’s keen initiative to promote Dubai.

Rami has an equally strong opinion on the travel industry. He says: “In my experience of 14-15 years in GTA, I have seen so many issues affect the tourism industry, but, industry bounces back every time. What I also love about this industry is that no matter what happens people will still travel. Today, travel has become more of a necessity than a luxury; coupled with education and knowledge.”

He cites an example wherein in the past, families took a vacation once every two years, but today, the trend is to travel every year or even twice a year. Schools are also including a lot of travel in their curriculum. Having seen this evolution, Rami enjoys being part of this ever-evolving industry.

The Professional

Rami as a professional is of the strong belief that every person should love their job. It is this love and passion that will eventually take them to great heights. Getting personal, he says: “I tell my kids that you don’t need to come to work because you need to work, you need to love what you do.”

As an individual, Rami possesses a very strong self-esteem and an even stronger belief in the dignity and respect of people. These are his main principles of life be it with self or even with employees. This gives not just his employees but also clients the confidence that he walks the talk. He also feels that honesty and transparency are essential in any business interaction. As a leader, he has always led from the front, knows his limits and tries to get the best out of his employees. He proudly says “my employees who work for me presently or even those who have moved on, feel very proud to be associated with me.”

Rami as a professional also like being involved in his employees day to day activities but his bigger responsibilities do not give him much time. He does miss this as he is a people’s person and a culture addict who loves mixing with different kinds of people. He is also of the view that everyone needs to know where to draw the balance. He explains his view of a balanced approach saying: “I do strike the balance as I do not delve too much into details, but I like delivery. In my opinion, if my employee delivers even 60-70% of his job, I consider it done as the fine tuning can always come later with the details.”

He very strongly cites his dislike for people who lack dignity and transparency. In his view, strong personal values are what make a good leader.

The Biggest Challenge

Rami feels that tourism is an amazing product to see. Unfortunately, it is not a ‘must have’ for many people, who replace a holiday for something more important in life. This can be due to financial insecurities or any other personal reasons. Another factor is that any issue be it small or large has an impact on the performance this industry and in turn, people’s travel. Finally, the biggest challenge is recovery of a product post a crisis.

Motivating Factor

Rami admires a few people; one of whom is His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai. He commends him for his vision and how he has transformed this city into a world-class product placing it on the global map. He also admires Jeff Bezos of Amazon for his vision and the impact of his brand on the world today.

Qualities of a Good Leader

Rami strongly believes that every leader should be self-motivated and possess a positive energy. A leader should also a vision and direction for growth. Both qualities according to Rami fall back on his personal values and belief system which aids them in any leadership skills. Every leader should also have the focus and determination to make something of themselves. Taking responsibility of your team and their families future is also important as a team is dependent on a as a leader.

Every leader should lead from front is Rami’s view. He cites an example: “There is an important principle in cycling, which is when in a group if you are not with them, you are in the way of the people behind you. The leader of the group needs to know if the group is cycling at the same pace or are there any barriers for people at the back to move ahead. If there are barriers, the leader needs to ensure he removes them in a timely manner.”

A leader should also be fair in his working ethics and give people an opportunity to grow. “Any strong leader who needs to succeed, should have at least three to four people working below him who want his job. If they want his job, he knows they will work harder to get to his position,” he adds.

Guiding principles

  • Love what you do and do it with passion
  • Life is unfair so live it. Have a fighting spirit
  • Have a strong belief system

Family Life

Rami has been happily married for 19 years, though, he knows his wife for 23 years. They once worked together. His family consists of two kids – a girl (17 years) and boy (12 years). He loves being around his family and proudly calls his wife a successful career-women, who has managed to raise a very healthy and happy family along with him.

Donning the role of a Husband and Father

On a lighter note, Rami says that his wife considers him another kid at home as he is a very different personality, when home. He reminisces a time when his wife quoted a dialogue from a movie which goes: “If you are the head of the family, I am the neck that keeps it all together”. Rami firmly believes this to be so true for his wife and himself. The kids being born and raised in Dubai certainly consider the UAE as their home after Jordan. The family travels to Jordan twice a year during the summers and at Christmas.

As a father, Rami admits to being a bit conservative with his daughter. These values come from his strong beliefs of being a Middle Eastern man. He also pushes both his kids in terms of their education which is essential for a good life ahead. He confidently says: “I am working on making them fit for their future. In order to make your kids ready for the future, you have to ensure that they work hard in any area of life.”

As a couple, they ensure that they instil a modest upbringing among their kids coupled with humble values. Despite having access to the best in travel, Rami ensures that they travel in the normal class on a flight or take a basic room in a hotel.

Vacationing

Rami’s ultimate city that he loves is New York – it is the atmosphere and lifestyle that attracts him to the city. The next best would be London for its sheer city life, outdoors and dining scene – the flavour exuded by the city cannot be found elsewhere. Rami loves travelling so believes that there is something unique to every destination. He is an out-an-out city person, loves outdoor activities, indulging in different cultures and loves trying out different cuisines. He is also a passionate mature cook.

On an Active Note

Rami loves the outdoor and has been cycling for almost six to seven years. In recent times, cycling has been put on the back-burner due to his busy schedule. He loved to play basketball and considers himself a good player. He also calls himself a culture addict and loves socializing. Not much of an avid reader, Rami loves the movies and especially those which show determination. One of his favourites is the Tom Hank starrer ‘Cast Away’. A recent movie which did have an impact on him was the Gerard Butler starrer ‘P.S. I Love You’.  He loved the way, the main protagonist planned the entire year ahead for his wife. On the music front, he loves to listen to classical music and Jazz. His favourites are undoubtedly Frank Sinatra and in the new lot – Amy Winehouse – who he thinks was a legend.

On the Food Trail

Rami loves Indian food and red meat. He is of the opinion that Indian food is not just about curry; whoever understands the kitchen knows the flavours made from spices. In his view, it is a very rich cuisine. He loves his kebabs, kormas, and Dals. He does dish out a yummy butter chicken and biryani but excels in Pasta and Arabic cuisine. One of his favourite dishes to cook is Mansaf which is a traditional Arabic dish.

Principles in Life

  1. Passion for any aspect of life is very important
  2. Self-esteem is very essential for any individual
  3. Respect every individual, if you want to gain respect
  4. Have the determination to succeed
  5. Be grateful for whatever you have. Instead of always looking up, look down and be grounded
  6. Karma is highly-under-rated