We caught up with Ms Jennifer Kang during our recent trip to Dubai earlier this year. We spent an evening with her overlooking the magnificent Buj Al Arab from Souk Madimat Jumeirah and discussing her new lifestyle and exciting career with Standard Chartered. We also talked to Jennifer about her career in marketing. Below is an excerpt:
Why did you move on to Dubai?
An opportunity came up with Standard Chartered Bank to head up the Brand and Sustainability division for the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan. It was an exciting role and the thought of being in a new country was also intriguing so without much hesitation, I decided to move to Dubai.
How has the transition been for you and your family, moving from Brunei to Dubai. What do you miss most about Brunei?
Moving a whole family is not as easy as I thought it would be. I was quite naïve and thought it would be as simple as packing the things you wanted with you, getting on a plane and moving. But it was a bit more complex than that with schools to be found, paper work to be sorted out and so forth. Though some of it took some time, transitioning has been relatively easy. We are all well settled now with all in place. While we definitely are enjoying Dubai, we miss Brunei immensely, especially family, friends and food.
How would you normally describe Brunei to your friends in Dubai?
Many people are curious about Brunei and we describe it as a lovely place to live in- small with over 400,000 people, good quality of life, pristine rainforests, family oriented and easily accessible from Dubai with direct flights.
Looking back at the very successful corporate career that you had in Brunei, what was the one most important lesson that you learnt in the last decade or so?
Decade makes me sound too old!! Throughout my career, there have been lessons to be learnt daily. Be it something about work or about myself. But one of the most important lessons for me has been about being able to strike a good work-life balance. That is, being able to separate work from home and home from work to be able to give your best no matter what you are doing.
What advice would you give to young Bruneians in marketing who are aspiring to climb the corporate ladder?
Do your best and to enjoy the ride. Remain passionate and keep striving to make a positive difference. Continue to look for inspiration to do things differently and continue to innovate.
What have you learnt so far about working and living in one of the world’s fastest growing economies?
First of all, let’s talk a bit more about what I have personally learnt from Dubai so far. Dubai is extremely international and diversified. At Standard Chartered alone we have around 73 nationalities in the United Arab Emirates. Moving to a different country where things are done in different ways has also added to this great learning experience. Hence, personally, for me, there have been lessons about understanding different cultures as well as how best to communicate and adapt one’s way of communication to suit each individual.
Even simple things like driving. When I first came here, I was quite overwhelmed by the driving and someone explained to me that it is the world coming together resulting in different driving styles. I was also impressed with how ‘digital’ life is here. Everything is online. From checking on progress of your ID card application to being sent SMS alerts on which stage it’s at to paying for a parking ticket via your phone.
“I am inspired by life’s touching moments – the little things that make a difference.”
What are the top 3 things you should do when you visit Dubai?
1. Definitely a desert safari- this is such a unique adventure that cannot be missed.
2. A trip to the spice souk (only because I like eating and marvel at the variety of spices you can get here).
3. If you enjoy shopping, the malls here are absolutely amazing.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by stories of achievement, perseverance, courage and positive change. I am also inspired by life’s touching momentsthe little things that make a difference.
Jennifer is originally from Kuching. She is married to a Bruneian with two wonderful children (which makes her a Bruneian according to our dictionary). Jennifer spent over a decade in Brunei and had a thriving marketing career that earned her a reputation for excellence, professionalism and drive. She headed the Marketing Department of Standard Chartered Brunei before moving to Dubai to further her career.