Interview with Site Young Leader Airaj Issacs, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Site Young Leader, Airaj Issacs is the Associate Director, Business Development for the MCI Middle East Office based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. His role includes developing new business opportunities for MCI with the corporate, public and association sectors in the Middle East region.

Site Source: Why did you choose the Travel & Hospitality industry as a profession?

Airaj Issacs: Like most people I have met in the industry, my education background is not from the MICE industry. I completed my undergraduate degree from the University of Western Ontario in Finance and Economics in 2007 and I finished my MBA from the University of Wollongong in Dubai in 2011.

I have always had a strong work ethic, and have always believed working with creative and passionate people would be the right work environment for me. The MICE industry is full of hard working and passionate people who need to be creative on a regular basis. The more MICE professionals I met, the more I was convinced that this was the industry for me. And, of course, like many young professional who entered the workforce, I was enticed by the potential of traveling. I am fortunate to have regional and international travel as part of my current role with MCI. 

Site: What are your career aspirations?

Airaj: My career aspirations are many, but at the moment I am focusing on a challenging career aspiration: to develop the Middle East region as a major MICE destination. This includes not only Dubai, but also Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Saudi Arabia. In the more long terms I also want to start developing Africa as well.

Site: What or who motivated you to join Site?

Airaj: When I joined the industry, Site was already a benchmark association for our industry. Since my education background is not from the industry I was keen on learning from an association where the senior MICE professionals offered education, presentations, white papers and discussions and Site offers this. Some people who have been great champions and my catalysts to join have been David Sand, Aoife Delaney, Sebastien Tondeur and of course Sumaira Isaacs. 

Site: What do you feel are the most valuable benefits of being a member of Site, specifically Site Young Leaders Program?

Airaj: Site offers education based on real-time experience from industry peers. This is truly my most valuable benefit. I attended the Site Global Conference in Beijing, China in 2012 and I learned insights from the entire MICE industry including senior MICE professionals, end customers and industry suppliers.

I am currently a committee member of the Site Young Leaders Program, which has been interesting because I have been engaged with a full committee of like-minded young people who are in the industry to truly make it better. The most valuable experience with the YLP is that we are working as volunteers to create a platform for our generation to exchange learning, ideas, and experiences.

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