Christina's professional identity has always been a big part of her. When her husband got a job offer in Qatar 5 years ago, she was not ready to put her own career on the back burner. While she had to give up her accountancy job in Denmark, Christina quickly turned this into an opportunity to start all over. She took a leap and immersed herself in an entirely new career abroad. From a dusty accountancy office in Denmark, she is now working an interactive job as real estate agent in the richest country in the world. She is truly an inspiring woman. Running a family with three young children, managing a household, and pursuing an international career abroad. Christina manages to do it all.
You used to work as an accountant in Denmark, how did you end up in real estate in Qatar?
Yes, in Denmark I worked as an accountant, until my husbands job brought us to Qatar. Moving abroad was an amazing opportunity for me. The first year, I stayed home to find my away around. But I was keen to get back to work and soon thereafter I met a Danish woman who worked in the real estate business. I found her job very interesting and wanted to know all about it. One thing led to another, and I got offered the opportunity to prove myself as a real estate agent. I started with six months of intensive training to learn all about the job and I am excited to call myself a real estate agent now!
Do you miss your professional life in Denmark?
To be honest? Not at all! When I worked as an accountant in Denmark, I was tied to the office all day. Now I live in Doha and I started a completely new and very different career. I went from an indoor office job, to a very interactive sales job where I get to meet a lot of interesting new people. So moving abroad gave me the opportunity to start a whole new career and reinvent myself both professionally and personally.
Did you have to make any adjustments when settling into the working expat life in Qatar?
There are of course some things that are different in Doha, compared to Denmark. Personally, I like to work in an organized fashion. For instance, I always make sure I am prepared and on time for the viewing of apartments and villas. However, I need to follow up on people quite often here in Doha. Much more than I would have had to in Denmark. It is something you have to get used to. People are more relaxed and easy-going here in Doha. Quite different from us punctual Danes!
What are the benefits of working in Qatar compared to Denmark?
To start out, there are financial benefits. In Qatar, you do not pay any taxes, yet. This means your earnings of 1 year are similar to working 3 years in Denmark. For me, the benefits are the flexibility and freedom my new job allows me. I can manage my own time now, rather than being tied to the office all day. Another thing that I really enjoy, is that I work with a great team of colleagues from a range of different nationalities. This means I get familiar with all kinds of other ways of thinking and working. This is to say about Qatar in general, living here exposes you to a huge diversity of cultures. It truly is an amazing country and it is very suitable for families. I have loved every second of my 5 years working and living here!
Did you have a problem getting a visa or work permit?
Luckily, obtaining a visa has never been an issue. Qatar works with a family sponsor system. This means I am sponsored by my husband who is employed here. The work permit was taken care of by my employer.
How is the job market in Qatar?
The job opportunities in Qatar are amazing. This is a ‘young’ country and it is still developing in many different industries.
Do you have any tips for expats looking to find a job in Qatar?
I am aware that many expat women do not experience such ease with finding a job. What I learned during my time in Qatar, is that it can be very beneficial to start with traineeship. This will get you started and allows you the opportunity prove your worth to the company. Networking is of huge value as well, especially in Doha. So try to surround yourself with as many working women as possible! I would advise expats to update your LinkedIn profile, and check the internet and newspapers regularly. Qatar has a lot of opportunities out there!
How is your work-life balance and what impact did your new career in Qatar have on your family life?
I was not ready to stay home and be a full-time mom. During my first year in Qatar, I stayed at home to find my way around and take care of my little son who was not in school yet. But after a year I started to miss my work. I really felt that I had to reclaim my professional identity. It is a big part of me and I can not do without. While I was excited to get back to work, I had to find something flexible. With a fulltime working husband, three young children and our decision not to hire a live-in maid, I needed that flexibility. Luckily, I found a job where I can manage my own time, so I can equally balance my work and family life. Working as a real estate agent in Doha has made me a happier wife and a better mom.