Many Finance and Tax Professionals relocate to the UAE with a dream of advancing their careers and gaining international exposure.
However, many times we receive messages like, ‘I am trying to find a job in Dubai, and this is all I have been offered,’ or ‘The designation I have received is not as per my expectations.
But the truth is, you might (not must) have to start at a level below your previous position.
Here is why…
No local experience
- Having local or GCC experience is important for companies in the UAE.
- Employers might favour candidates who understand how business is done locally, know the rules, and are familiar with the market conditions.
- “Usually in the UAE, they don’t recognize foreign work experience. But I was up for it and took a calculated risk. I knew I would bounce back and I did.” CA Yogesh Lakhani, Regional Finance Manager at Martrade Shipping & Logistics.
Lack of experience in the sector you are applying for
- In 2019, when CA Swati Bagri joined Amazon in Dubai, she had to take a step back in her career.
- At Amazon, she took on the role of a Finance Business Partner however, had she continued in India, she might have become the Head of FP&A at Mars.
- However, since she lacked experience in the e-commerce sector, she was willing to make that trade-off to gain exposure to it.
- The job market in places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, can be extremely competitive due to their attractiveness as international business hubs.
- Many individuals from around the world aspire to work in these locations, which can lead to a high volume of applicants for job openings.
So what do you do…
Take up the ‘relevant’ opportunity that comes your way
- Don’t wait for two or three years, expecting a great job offer to come your way.
- For instance, if your goal is to become an FP&A manager, it’s perfectly fine to start as an accountant and then make a switch later on. Many companies in the UAE are quite flexible when it comes to transferring employees between different functions.
- During a conversation with Swati Bagri, she shared her experience of taking a step back when she moved to Dubai. Swati clarified, “I am not suggesting that you should accept an internship role after holding the position of Finance Manager in India – that would not be advisable. However, if the opportunity arises for you to start as an Assistant Finance Manager instead of a Finance Manager and you are keen on gaining international experience, don’t hesitate to consider it. It’s a perfectly reasonable choice.”
Acquire local experience
- Tap into new learnings, become familiar with the market, and embrace new changes.
- Once you obtain adequate local experience it’ll be easier to shift roles or move up the ladder.
Don’t focus only on the salary part
- If you come across a well-respected company or firm that offers a bright career potential, SEIZE the opportunity!
- You will soon land a job at the level you deserve, with a salary two to three times what you currently make.
- “Don’t look at the salary, especially if you are thinking from a long-term perspective,” says Hany Elnaggar, Associate Partner (ME & GCC) at WTS Dhruva, a leading Tax firm in Dubai.
It’s essential to recognize that the above advice emphasizes a long-term career perspective.
Ultimately, Individuals must assess their unique circumstances and make choices that align with their immediate and long-term objectives.
The right career choice depends on a balance of personal goals, financial needs, market conditions, and individual situations.