Embracing change is not an easy thing to do. However, Esra Parin, General Manager of JW Marriott Marquis City Center Doha, shares her story and shows the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone to achieve your goals.
“My motto is to work hard, be adventurous, try and try everything you’d like as much as possible.” – Esra Parin
OHLALA – Tell us a bit about yourself and how you reached the position you are in today. How was the path to arrive here?
Esra Parin – I always wanted to travel the world and explore it. I liked to watch the documentaries of Jacques Cousteau, Marco Polo, Silk Road and many more. I also had a deep interest in luxury, old-world manners, diplomacy, dining manners, hospitality, etc. I was clearly fascinated with the world of hospitality. I got my first full-time job with the worldfamous Ciragan Palace Hotel Kempinski and found my gateway to working abroad when I joined the cruise lines. I did a lot of travelling through the entire Caribbean and other beautiful places. After three and a half years, I returned to Turkey and got my first leadership role in a five-star hotel as banquet manager. And this was the big turn in my career. In 2009, I took a radical decision and moved to work in Dubai, Greece, then Doha. I stayed in Qatar for five and a half successful years. I then moved to Amman to open a hotel as the general manager. Three years later, I returned to Qatar, my second home, to take on the JW Marriott Marquis City Center, and here I am.
OHLALA – What have you achieved that makes you the proudest in your career?
EP – I am from a generation in my country where the girls were brought up to become someone with a job traditionally accepted, such as work in banks, be a teacher, doctor or even an engineer. But travelling the world or work in hotels was something a bit out of the ordinary at that time, let alone becoming a female leader. So, the saying was “but you can’t do that”, so I guess I am really proud I have proven to myself and others that I could, and I was courageous.
OHLALA – What do you think was the biggest challenge you had to face?
EP – The biggest challenge for me was to get the first job in a hotel and to leave my country in 1992 for the first time to work on the cruise lines, then to move once again, when I was 40 years old, to Dubai to adapt to a new environment, people, company. Yet, every time we step out of our comfort zones, I believe they are the most rewarding and most refreshing times. These moments make us feel alive, our perceptions widen, we boost our adrenaline because of excitement and even some level of anxiety. However, that is when we adapt, grow and develop and I think this brings us towards reaching our full potential.
OHLALA – How do you feel about having conquered so much as a woman? Is there any woman that served as an inspiration to you?
EP- I feel great, and I think there is so much more that I can and should do both for my personal growth as well as to humbly share my experiences and learnings with younger people around me to continue the journey. My inspiration is a lady who is one of my best friends and a second mother to me, who has guided and mentored me in my journey to reach out to whatever I was seeking for. My second guardian angel is my husband, who always believes in me and pushes me forward to be, do, and go forward. He was the one that pushed me to become a GM. So, I wish every woman or man has such mentors or partners in life that support them.
OHLALA – What’s your motto in life?
EP – My motto is to work hard, be adventurous, try and try everything you’d like as much as possible. If you try, at least you know you tried. And if anyone tells you you can’t do something, don’t listen to them; listen to your gut feeling! Live to the fullest!
OHLALA – How do you balance your personal life and work?
EP – I could not do that part well before, but now with my husband beside me, I try to balance better. Also, our friends are our wealth, so I try to spend quality time with the people I love, share knowledge, experience and a good meal. I love researching information, so I do whatever entices my curiosity. I have now started to learn golf, and I have dance and pottery on my list. I am learning Italian to speak to my husband, and I have travelled to more than 35 countries. I know I have a long bucket list of six continents and probably more than 100 countries to go, so I figured I need to start planning my time well.
OHLALA – What piece of advice do you give to young ladies out there starting their careers?
EP – Look for the answers to some questions such as what makes you the happiest? Being of service to people? Exploring something? Numbers? People? Playing an instrument? Medicine? Journalism? What is it that sparks and ignites passion in your stomach so you know that you should seek that further? Go for it, even if someone or people tell you that you can’t, because you can’t make money out of it, or it is dangerous, or whatever the reason is, listen to yourself and go for it.