Best of the Maldives: Artist-in-Residence – Kandima

Kandima - artist in residence 1

Aima Musko and I got way back. When I had just started Maldives Complete and she had just started her career in art. She’s helped me with the website (doing the new logo this past year) and I guess you could say that I helped her as her first customer. I knew that she had been a part of the featured artist series at Kandima, but I hadn’t realised that she had stayed on as an artist-in-residence at the resort until we visited there in July. She caught me up on all the latest and greatest in her artistic exploits as well as her exciting plans for the future. And here in a Maldives Complete exclusive, she is sharing a bit of her creative life on the island of Kandima…

  • Which atoll are you from?
    G.Dh. Fiyoari (Huvadhoo Atoll) but have always lived in Malè
      
  • What art training have you had?
  • Visual Arts in High School at Mahindra United World College of India and Foundation in Visual Communications at The One Academy in Malaysia.
      
  • What is your big frustration as an artist?
  • Other than getting easily frustrated as a perfectionist, being limited and restricted as to what can be exhibited here.
      
  • What was the first painting you ever sold (tell us your side of the story)?
  • While working at Transparency Maldives in 2011, I was asked to be the artist on a video that was celebrating women and had to make a painting for it. The video “Salhi Anhenun” (Cool Women) was uploaded to YouTube and after a few days I was contacted by the production team saying that they had someone interested in purchasing my painting. I met Bruce at a Cafe in Malè and since that day, I’m so happy to know that my painting has been hanging in his house all the way in UK for the past 7 years!
      
  • What artists have influenced you?
  • With Social Media like Instagram, I’m following various artists from all over the world with different mediums and techniques and have been continuously influenced by their styles. However I would say visiting the Art Exhibitions in Malè when I was younger and seeing the works of Artists from Maldives (Afu, Ika and Eagan to name a few) really left a lasting impression on me. Having creative friends and drawing together in school, working in different creative fields.. I’m constantly inspired and influenced.
      
  • What is the biggest misconception about art that you face?
    That good art is how realistic you can draw. Also that if you are an artist, you will be good in every aspect of art and the mediums.
      
  • If you could buy one piece of art in the world (money is no object, it could be millions), which one would it be?
    A painting by Ika of a Blue lady holding a cigarette that I saw in a house I visited with a friend about a decade ago. It just always stuck with me and I would love to own it for the impact it had on me. The second would be “The Kiss” by Gustavo Klimt. Smile
      

You can check out her personal online gallery here.

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Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Female Apprentice Snorkel Guide – AaaVeee

AaaVeee - snorkel guide

One of our favourite parts of visiting the Maldives over so many years and working on it so regularly with the website are the many friends we have made from this paradise. One of my motivations for all the work (and money) I put into Maldives Complete, is that I feel more like a participant and more a part of this wonderful place rather than just a here-today-gone-tomorrow spectator with a credit card. This year’s tour in particular was full of reunions with old friends. And we had the chance to meet other fascinating individuals during our travels.

People like Thoyyibaa Ahmed at AaaVee. She is the Maldives’ first female resort snorkel guide. Well, I should say “snorkel guide apprentice”. She is still learning the details under the auspices of the guruVa dive centre. But she inspired us with her enthusiasm for this iconic activity in her home country where many women historically haven’t even learned to swim in the past.

Those gender biases are shifting you are now seeing more and more women entering into the activity both for fun and professionally. Women like Zoona Naseem who became the first female PADI instructor (working out the Male suburb Villimale) and many more like her as demonstrated by the recent Women’s Day Dive which attracted record numbers.

Maldives Complete had the opportunity to sit down with Thoyyibaa to learn about her quest to share this aquatic scenery with all guests…

  • What is your name?Thoyyibaa Ahmed
  • What atoll are you from?Male
  • What got you interested in being a snorkel guide?The ocean is my love. I first tried to dive, but I had health problems that did not allow me to dive. So then I choose to look at snorkeling. My best friend was a snorkel guide, but had to stop when she had a baby. She recommended that I try it.
  • What languages do you speak?Dhivehi and English mainly, but I am learning Italian and German. I am studying all the fish names. The names are very important.
  • What is the favourite thing you see snorkeling?Turtles.
  • When did you start learning to swim?Three months ago. It is my new experience. The dive master is teaching me. The first time I went in the water, I was very scared. If I am tired or weak, I will use a life jacket for safety. I am really grateful to AaaVeee for giving me this opportunity to learn to become a snorkel guide.
  • What do your friends and family think of your job direction? – My mother is very surprised because this is the first time I’ve ever done something like this. All my family and friends are giving me their full support. I never give up. I keep trying. My mother is always asking questions about how it is going.
  • Who uses a snorkel guide? – Any guest really, but some guests come here alone and they need a buddy to accompany them.
  • Any advice for any other women interesting in snorkeling?Snorkeling is the best thing I have done. There is no reason to be scared. Women and girls who have not learned to swim should not be scared. You can do whatever you want. Don’t give up.

Best of the Maldives: Bed Decorating Diversity – Kuramathi

Kuramathi - bed art 1

I wasn’t quite sure what to call this recognition, but I knew I need to call out Kuramathi’s exceptional touches to old fashioned relaxation. Kuramathi was the first resort that I ever posted for its distinctive bed-art marking. They have clearly made it a resort trademark, in fact taking it up a notch with the latest generation of bedroom artistes.

All of the creations shown here are the work of 24 year old room attendant Adam Naseer.  Kuramathi shared these details about his work…

  • “Adam has been working in another resort for about two years after he found out about Kuramathi on the internet and from some friends (who also work here) and decided to work for Kuramathi, this is now one year ago. He works at the Thundi area of the island and takes care of about 4 to 5 villas per day. His favourite part is decorating the bed or even the bath with towel art including flowers. It is his passion to make the guests happy and to see their smile on their face as he always receives a grateful feedback and the guests always want to have a picture with Adam and his designs. Mostly he likes to make heart shaped or honeymoon designs.”

My favourite is his birthday greeting complete with towel birthday cake (see photo at top).

For a gallery of Maldives bed decorating masterpieces, check out the Maldives Complete “Bed Art” Pinterest board.

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Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Designer – Kandolhu

Kandolhu - designer

Maldivians are not just working in the resorts, they are building and designing them. One of the pioneers leading the way in envisioning spaces with the same aesthetic beauty that the destination has become renowned for is Mohammed Shafeeq. Part of the local Maldivian GX Associates architecture firm which have designed many top properties in the Maldives, he was introduced to us by the Kandolhu resort who were particularly proud of the award-winning work that he did in the redesign of their resort a number of years ago. I caught up with Shafeeq to learn a bit more about his background and perspectives…

  • Where are you from in the Maldives
    I am from Male’ and also brought up in Male.
  • Where did you study?
  • I studied in Maldives (in Male’) completed my A Levels and then went onto university in the UK at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne to study architecture.
  • What was the first thing you designed?
    The first thing I designed was a small island in the North of Male’ Atoll which was basically a concept sketch on art paper which was developed to be a small resort by the owners.
  • Which other resorts did you design?
    Some of the resorts we designed include Anantara Dhigu, Anantara Kihavah Villas, Anantara Veli, Baros, Coco Palm Boduhithi, Coco Palm Dhunikolhu, Constance Halaveli Resort, Four Seasons Resort, Fridays Resort, Hilton Irufushi, Huvafenfushi, Kurumba, LUX Maldives, Maafushivaru, Mudhdhoo and some of the more recent ones are the Thundi in Kuramathi and Milaidhoo.
  • How has your approach changed as you do different properties?
    The approach always follow the trends in fashion, lifestyle and technology and the tastes of the travelers and I always try to stay ahead by reviewing other competing developments in the region.
  • Have you designed any non-resort properties in the Maldives?
    Yes, I did much residential and civic work before specialising in hospitality design and they include private residences, apartment blocks, law courts, hospitals, schools and prisons even.
  • What is something they didn’t you in design school that you had to learn the hard way through experience?
    What I learned through experience is the delicacy and expertise required when you model the built environment to appease the senses of the users to make them feel totally comfortable and create an ambience that is akin to a home with a magical touch.
  • Which designer has had the greatest influence on you?
  • Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • If you were given a blank cheque and a completely free reign to design the resort of your dreams, what sorts of design element would it feature?
  • It would feature a back to basics, barefoot and eco friendly nature resort with an extremely luxurious ambiance where natural and built environment will have no boundaries.
  • What are some of the constraints or considerations to designing for a remote location in a tropical environment?
    The constraints are mostly to do with the size of the island and the requirement of the client to have a set number of villas and spaces on that island but to afford the best views and settings for each and every public building and guest villa.
  • Are there any projects you are working on that you can share with us?
    Right now we are working on two projects in Baa Atoll, One in Raa Atoll, One in Noonu Atoll and Two in Male’ Atoll.

Best of the Maldives: Soneva Jani– Youngest Training Manager

Soneva Fushi - Ashraf Adnan training manager

May 1st today is known round the world as International Workers Day. A chance to celebrate and support the workforce that drives our lives and welfares. One of the best way to lift up a work force is with education and training.

A new generation of Maldivians are on the vanguard of building the country into one of the world’s finest travel destinations. An exemplary example is Ashraf Adnan at Soneva Jani who at 26 is the Maldives’ youngest training manager.

Soneva’s acclaimed ethos of sustainability is not just about the environment but start with the very people working hard to create the finest guest experiences. Sara Ballinger, of the The Daisy Gray Partnership, was his Ashraf’s first manager at Soneva and she spoke to him about his career (with Maldives Complete adding a few of its own questions). I was particularly intrigued since Leadership and Management is my other pet interest (so leadership and management in the Maldives is double delight for me)…

Q: Where do you come from in the Maldives?
A: I come from Guraidhoo in the Kaafu Atoll.

Q: What was your first job?
A: After completing my education I got my first job at age 19 when my brother told me about a job opening at Olhuveli Beach and Spa resort as HR Administrator and Coordinator. In truth I wasn’t learning much, it wasn’t a five star resort and I was ambitious, so I took a distance learning course which I funded myself and after two years I achieved a further qualification in HR Management. That gave me the confidence to apply for a position at the 5 star ‘LUX Maldives’ resort in the South Ari Atoll as HR & Training coordinator.

Q: Who or what influenced you early in your career and how?
A: I spent the next 18 months in my role under the management of Mr Hussain Afeef who is the most successful learning & development professional in the Maldives in my opinion and is also Maldivian. At this point the thought of standing up in front of people terrified me. I had no interest in doing that at all, but Mr Afeef inspired me with the way he delivered. I watched him at work in the training room and in time I got up the courage to try standing up and talking to people. I wasn’t perfect from the start but with continued encouragement and coaching I built up my confidence and my skills and after a time I started to deliver some of the training myself.

Q: What brought you to Soneva Fushi?
A: One day I saw a job advertised as Assistant Training Manager at Soneva Fushi in the Baa Atoll. Soneva had a reputation as being one of the very best resorts in the Maldives and also for having a culture of responsibility for the environment and for protecting this beautiful country of ours. I heard that they also looked after local communities and were more ethical and sustainable than most luxury hospitality brands. I really wanted to work for them! I was so happy to be offered the position and really worked hard at building my skills by practice, practice, practice and watching video’s online, reading about how to deliver great training and more practice! At this time, I did not have a manager to learn from and so I did my own self development. Delivering became easier, but without a manager of my own to teach me I didn’t know whether I was doing a good job or not.

Q: How did you prepare yourself for training leadership and management?
A: Sara Ballinger joined as my manager and I really started to learn about how to deliver leadership training and how to think about training in a different way. I learned how to plan and write and read training plans, how to present the information in the sessions, how to read the audience and handle them and deal with problems when they arose. Sara gave me the opportunity to go to Thailand to work in our sister property Soneva Kiri for a month. This was great exposure and really helped me to understand how to work with different cultures and in different ways. We did so much great stuff! Learning Olympics, a brand new Induction, lots of presentations skills, train the trainer and leadership training. The reason I am now a training manager is because I learnt from my leaders

Q: What has been the key to your achievements so far?
A: Coming out of my comfort zone and taking a risk. Without trying you will never know! You ask ‘but what if I fail’ – I ask ‘what if I don’t?’ Try anyway. Also you must believe in yourself if you want others to believe in you. And self development, don’t expect others to do all the work for you – you have to take responsibility for your own learning.

Q: What are the biggest obstacles that you have faced?
A: People want experience, so breaking into the egg-shell can be hard if you have no contacts. Start somewhere, even if it’s not the job of your dreams and is a lower position, just to get a start. Then chase your dream!

Q: Soneva recently opened its new Jani property. What is different training for a new opening property compared to an established property?
A: The difference between training for a new property and established property is that in a new opening property, training programmes are designed in a way with great potential to be a part of the team and to progress rapidly within the company. From the very basics to Heath and Safety, resort policies and procedures, brand trainings etc. In any pre-opening employees will take part in all the training programme that company has to offer.

Q: What is your favorite book about leadership and management?
A: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s gives great lesson about personal change and growth.

Q: What is one of the biggest myths about training?
A: People get confused between a teacher and a trainer. 🙂

Q: If you had $1 million to invest on an a training initiative in the Maldives, what would you spend it on?
A: I would open a training institution in the Maldives specially for those youngsters who are seeking for job opportunities in the Maldives resorts. One of the main challenge youth of the Maldives faces is when they start hunting for jobs in the tourism industry, due to lack of experiences it makes very hard for them to find a job. An institution where we can train and certify them in every role there is to offer in a resort.

Q: What do you see in your future?
A: I am inspired by the people I have been working with here at Soneva. I look at my bosses’ jobs and I wonder what I can learn, how I can follow and then I will try to be them one day! I will be Director of Learning & Development one day and then Group Director of Learning & Development. I have a new manager now and I am looking forward to continuing my development with him. I have a clear view of my future and I am excited about the journey.

Q: What do you like to do when not at work?
A: I love to surf, play guitar and read, non-fiction – books which are inspirational and teach me something.

Best of the Maldives – Celebrity Selfies – Bunyamin Ahmed

Bunyamein instagram 1

Yesterday’s National Day celebrates Maldives independence from foreigner control, but one countryman – Bunyamin Ahmed (known to many as “Benjo”) – has become a one-man photographic greeter of famous foreign guests to the Maldives. His Instagram feed is a must-follow for celebrity spotters. Especially if you can’t even recognise them. He has an uncanny eye for the glitterati who flood into this paradise destination as apparently an unmatchable charm to get selfies with them. He’s snapped singers and models, but his true forte is the footie.

Men post to blogs and Instagram about 10 times less frequently than women. But Ahmed is one feed which redresses that gender balance catching some of the only pictures of the superstars blokes who visit.

Male’s Velana International Airport (MLE) is arguably the best celebrity spotting place on the planet. The fabulous and famous are drawn to the country’s postcard perfect islands and all pass through its small single room arrival hall.  Every visit we spot some well known personality loitering by the baggage claim next to us.

Maldives Complete caught up with Ahmed for another exclusive interview about his luminary lens…

1. Where are you from in the Maldives? – I’m from Male’ City, the capital of Maldives.

2. What is your job? – My celebrity hunting began back in 2006, when I joined Island Aviation as a Customer Services Assistant. Left the job in 2012 and in early 2016 joined Srilankan Airlines as a station assistant. That’s my current job.

3. Who was your first photo? – Gianluca Zambrotta, Ex- Italian National team defender. 10 days in to my job, back in 2006. I got so excited. Since I’ve been seeing these people in video games and on TV. I wanted to make a huge collection of all the famous people I get to meet. Still gets star struck every single time I meet someone famous. Still gets the shaky feeling when I click pics for others too.

4. Do you have a standard way to approach celebrities passing through and ask for their picture? – Yeah of course, I just don’t ask them out of manners or respect. Always look to give the respect they deserve. Normally I approach them right away or while they are at the baggage belt waiting for bags (that’s how I approach if I’m to meet them on arrival to Maldives). If I meet them on departure, I try to give them the space they need to finish check-in first, or other times depending on the personality or the particular celebrity’s mood I ask for autographs while they are at the check-in counter (subject to the check-in queue of that particular flight he or she is travelling on) and then if nice, start a conversation and ask for pics. Rejection doesn’t faze me. Not trying or not having the guts to ask does. Because if they agree it’s a massive success and if they don’t there’s nothing to lose. Whatever you get is a bonus.

5. Which celebrity were you most pleased to meet? – One of the best days was when I got to meet my fav club Manchester United’s boss Jose Mourinho. Also getting to meet one of my fav model Devon Windsor and today I met my fav all time singer Frankie Bridge (1/5 of British girl band The Saturdays). Those are few great days.

6. Who would you most like to meet? – I’ve got so many names for that question. Two big names I’ve met but no pics, since they are big big football stars. Guess who they are – David Beckham (my all time fav footballer) and Cristiano Ronaldo 😉 . Would love to meet Sir Alex Ferguson one day and pics with both Cristiano and Beckham too. To be honest, my ‘dream list’ is very long. Every Man United squad player is a dream (lucky enough have met some of them). Also big pop stars such as Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Ariana are few names. Some big names among Victoria’s Secret models are also in my list, like Candice, Behatii, Adriana. So many I don’t know where to stop.

7. They don’t appear to be selfies, so who takes the pictures? – Good question. That’s right. Not selfies but I got selfies some of them too, but that’s after taking a proper pic. Since I worked as a Customer Services Assistant at Airport Company before, I still got friends working there. So those friends, namely Nadheem, Evan and Mazin knows how my pics has to be, coz I don’t settle for just anything. Quality has to be super good. Cheeky part is sometimes the celeb partner take pics for me too. Remember Italian soccer star Francesco Totti’s wife taking the pic for me. And most recently today Wayne Bridge (ex-England defender ) took the pic of his wife Frankie Bridge for me. Frankie and Wayne who I met this morning are by far the most amazing, down to earth people of all [see photo above].

8. Do you have any tips for other celebrity spotters on how to ask for a picture? – Indeed. I’m pleased with my very own success rate. I believe my technique is the key (just kidding) . I don’t want a pic with a celebrity at any cost (except for very big names :p ) Since I’m not a paparazzi, I want them to willingly pose for a pic with me, which doubles my happiness. Actually you need to ask with respect. I always use the first name when addressing to celebrities. I’ve got likes from many celebs on Instagram for their pics with me. So I advise not to feel them disturbed or annoyed. Just make them feel comfortable.

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Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Artist Exhibition – Loama Maldives at Maamigili

Loama Maldives at Maamigili - art exhibition

From the extremes of primitive to avant garde, Maldivian artists also excel at classic art forms like oils and etchings. Not surprisingly, that home of the arts, Loama Maldives at Maamigili is an opportune place to sample these masterpieces…

“Loama Art Gallery is affiliated with the National Art Gallery, Maldives, and shows contemporary art from the Maldives. It offers a valuable platform for artists to exhibit and sell their work to a local and international audience. Contemporary art in Maldives has seen significant changes in themes and style over the last few decades. On the Path of a Dream brings together the work of contemporary artists whose diverse and surprising themes examine their innate senses borne while living in the Maldives. These artists have works that span decades and explores their subjects in-depth, visiting and revisiting ideas that form the identity of people inhabiting these islands. Loama Art Gallery aims to hold four exhibitions annually and the current exhibition at the overwater art gallery features five Maldivian artists who we are proud to present”

  • Afzal Shafiu Hassan (directly below) – “although he works mostly with oil water colors. In 1994, at the age of 18, Afu began his professional career as a postages stamp designer at Maldives Post.”
  • Eagan Badheeu (above) – “Impressionist landscapes and seascapes depicting the culture and lifestyle of the Maldives are his signature subjects…He earned initial recognition in the year 2000 when his works were exhibited in ‘Funoas’ (the beginning of southwest monsoon) Art exhibition held at Esjehi Gallery in Malé.”
  • Aminath Hilmy (bottom) – “As a young girl her playground was sea hibiscus groves by the beach on Thinadhoo, Gaaf Dhaal Atoll. Her mother, Fathimath Hussain, was a Kasabu (embroidery) maker and a tailor. These skills were induced to young Aminath Hilmly and is reminiscent in her style of work…Aminath Hilmy has shown her work in Esjehi Gallery and National Art Gallery in Male.”

An this esteemed group is not alone so I have added the new category Tag “Maldivian Artist” to the blog today so you can peruse a virtual exhibition of local mastery.

A summary of the exhibit can be found here.

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Best of the Maldives: Female GM – Summer Island

Summer Island - GM

America didn’t quite go for its only female chief executive, but in a land known more for its glass floors, Mariya Shareef is breaking a few glass ceilings with her appointment as General Manager of Summer Island – the only female GM in the Maldives at present. Maldives Complete had a chance to catch up with her for an exclusive interview about her career and views on tourism in her country…

  • What was your first ever job?
    The first job I ever had was helping a friend’s mom sell school uniform badges just before the school season started – I must have been around 14 – 15 years old. As a reward for this work, we were treated to a nice meal. I took it seriously, I was always there, punctual, and I memorised the prices of all the badges. I worked alongside a friend, who remains close to me now, and we would sit and chat as we waited for clients. It was such fun!
  • What was your first job in hospitality?
    I worked in Bandos island resort as a pastry assistant. I always thought I would become a pastry chef someday, but my career has taken me into management.
  • What has been your favourite sighting on the Summer Island house reef?
    The little ‘Nemo’ clown fish and anemones near the jetty. It is the first thing you see when you arrive on the island. I never tire of looking at them – they are such pretty little ones.
  • What has been an idea (eg new dish, a new activity, a new offer) that completely failed?
    I wish I could remember a specific idea or incident. Of course, I have failed at things. Lots of ideas have been rejected, and there has always been things I wanted to do but couldn’t, or that I started and stopped midway through. Failure, I think, goes hand in hand with success. If you never make any mistakes, it probably means you are too risk averse. As long as you always learn from your mistakes, it’s an important part of growing and developing.
  • How have the guests changed over your career?
    I think the clientele who holiday in the Maldives haven’t changed that much over the years. The country still has a well-preserved image as the perfect honeymoon or romantic destination. Probably, the honeymooners have overtaken the divers now, who were the first group who started coming when tourism first began. Nowadays, we also have new groups visiting such as surfers. The market keeps expanding, especially with the introduction of new tourism offers such as guesthouses on local islands, as well as cruises and safari boats that cater to surfers. There are also more family orientated resorts. I would say the country is more open now for different segments of guests and we are better able to cater to different needs, different age groups, activities and nationalities. But the honeymoon image is still the one for which the Maldives is world famous.
  • How have the management challenges changed over your career?
    Management style differs from company to company. I have always been happy where ever I worked and have been quite blessed with good bosses. I had the privilege of working with foreign and local management. I believe things will change, and the new generation needs to bring change. I believe locally managed companies are changing for the better. As one of the only Maldivian women to hold the post of resort manager, I hope to be a good example of such change. I am not only happy for myself, but for the positive change the company has brought – it is very motivating.
  • What is your favourite dish served at Summer Island restaurants?
    I love food, so everything I eat is always good! The best food I had in Summer Island was a very yummy prawn curry. And I shouldn’t forget the satay in the snack menu, which we also sometime have on the buffet – it’s so good!
  • If you had $1 million to add one single feature to Summer Island, what would it be?
    With $1 million I would do lots small things, predominantly to the staff areas. I would redo the football pitch with astro-turf, pave the badminton court, add one more floor to the staff lounge and bring in more snooker tables, table tennis tables, and other sports; do up the cafeteria nicely, add lots of cozy areas for staff to lounge and mingle. A Million Dollars will also go along way to “comp” offer complementary experiences.
  • What’s one question I didn’t ask that you either wish I asked or were surprised that I didn’t ask (and what the answer)?
    Maybe, ‘how does it feel to be in this position now?’ and my answer would be, it feels like I am finally home. I was and have always been in love with this beautiful island and its people, including the management and the owners. They are such wonderful people. Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming – but in a very happy way. And today, when I think about all these questions, and everyone talking about me; being in the media and all that, I have never felt anything different from my people here at ‘home’. I started this new job with huge responsibilities on my shoulders but when I saw the smiles on everyone’s faces, I knew I had the support of my colleagues. I have been in this new job for about 20 days now but I know that I’m not alone and that is a great feeling. I never feel I am being treated differently because I am a woman, or because I’m young… this place simply makes me feel like I am home.

Best of the Maldives: HR Leadership – LUX South Ari Atoll

LUX South Ari Atoll - Hussein Afeef

May Day today is a time to celebrate the workers of the world and their contributions to society. A fine time to commend LUX South Ari Atoll and their work every day of the year to enhance the work and personal lives of the staff as recognized with the recent commendation of their Director of Training, Development and Quality Assurance…

“The resort is proud to share that Director of Training, Development and Quality Assurance, Mr. Hussein Afeef has been recognized as one of the ‘100 most influential Global HR Professionals’ at the 3rd Global Training Conference which was held in Mumbai, India on February 15 2016. On the same day Afeef was also awarded with the ‘Global Training and Development Leadership Award’ handed over by one of the founders of World HRD Congress 2016, Dr. R. L. Bhatia.”

Actually, I find pretty much most of the resorts to have a very staff-centric ethos which makes sense as their entire business is about people. That is, Maldivian people hosting people from around the world to share a bit of their paradise. Maldives Complete was able to secure an interview with Hussein Afeef to get a more in depth look at his award-winning perspectives…

• What was your education?

I completed a Bachelors Degree in Hospitality Management in Malaysia and Masters of Business Administration in British School of Commerce awarded by London School of Commerce. PHD research is set to start from June 2016.

• What was your first job at a resort?

My first job at Resort was HR Administration for three resorts Bandos Island Resorts, Four Seasons and Cocoa Island-based mainly at Male’ and often visited all three resorts. I also had three internships at Bangkok, Singapore, and Malaysia before taking a full-time resort based role at One&Only Reethi Rah.

What is one of the most common intra-staff conflicts and how do your resolve it?

The biggest challenge we face is miscommunication and cultural diversity understandings within colleagues. However we have learned over the years, the success and best way to resolve it to provide enough service and culture related education to Team Members and to create transparency between all departments and Team Members especially when it comes to sharing information.

• What is one of the most common staff personal issues and how do your support them to resolve it?

Mostly conflicts between Team Members around taking personal responsibility for getting things done. Here at LUX* we have created a service culture that empowers Team Members to be proactive and take personal responsibility. Therefore, I don’t see such an issue right now at our work environment.

• What skill set is the hardest to find?

Good Leadership skills and how to be great leaders. Time Management, being a constant role model, sharing and living by positive attitudes are some of the hardest soft skills to find within Team Members. That’s why we continually educate and teach our colleagues and results has been fantastic.

• What has been the most popular training you have provided?

Service Culture Programs designed by UP Your Service, FISH! Philosophy, Leadership Programs from John Maxwell are some of the most popular programs are deliver and customize to our Team needs.

• What is the least popular training (e.g., difficulty, tedium)?

To be honest, I don’t have a particular topic like that. It depends on the trainer, even Health, and Safety, Fire Awareness or Hygiene training sessions are popular here as we try our best to bring the best-outsourced instructors. When teachers are incredible, regardless of the topic, course will be well received by Team Members

• Have you introduced any policies that provide greater flexibility for the staff and how they do their jobs?

We have many policies and procedures that assist our Team Members do to and deliver what they do best. Our Managers are regularly coached regarding empowerment and flexibility of work, thus same filters through all levels.

• What is the most popular perk to being on staff at LUX South Ari Atoll?

Regular welfare and employee relation activities, Competitive Compensation package in terms of monetary value, world-class training and development programs, opportunities and Team Members being able to have their freedom at work and are open to creativity and innovative ideas. I consider these as benefits that other organizations may lack.

Best of the Maldives: Sand Painting – JA Manafara

JA Manafaru - sand painting Figi

While the glitterati use sand to paint themselves, artist Ahmed Shahid of JA Manafaru uses paint to adorn sand. When he is not working in the resort boutique, he creates a variety of sand compositions, but his specialty is football motifs. The resort reports “He works at the boutique. He is a very good self taught artist who makes these designs. They are made for guests, when we are aware of a football team that they support.” His proudest moment was when one of his favourite players, Luis Figo, posed with one of his creations when visiting the resort (see above).

JA Manafaru - sand painting Man City

JA Manafaru - sand painting 2