If he is seated next to you on a flight, chances are he will strike a conversation; that’s how he gets new ideas. And Essa Sulaiman Ahmad flies a lot. He is the VP India & Nepal, of Emirates after all. In an exclusive interview with Ocider, this is what he says about work, life and work-life balance.
How do you maintain work-life balance? You are such a busy professional!
Most importantly, I set my priorities right. I make sure that I am on top of things, as it happens, around the country. I work hard around the week. On weekends I am with family and friends, socialising. I try to take out time to go to the gym. Also, travelling is a part of my job, but I also travel for leisure. I try to take out time to travel and explore the beauty of India.
What’re the cool things about your job?
The aviation industry is a challenging market. Its dynamic nature keeps you going, non-stop with undefined working hours. There is always something new and exciting happening – new insights on travellers, technological innovations, strategies to make flying easy and comfortable. As a professional, I learn something new every day. Besides, my job also allows me to meet new people and interact with them, be it passengers, our crew members or our employees, from all over the world. There is always a goldmine of info coming in. That eventually directs me to think and act imaginatively towards making the Emirates experience worthy. I also learn from people about the economy of a country, the financial scenario, etc.
What’re the challenges? Any instance that really had you on a spot?
Setting up a station at a new destination is always challenging. I remember setting up a station at Zambia within just 43 days. We managed to bring all the aspects – Airport, Reservation, Cargo, Catering, training people, sourcing locations for offices, setting up offices, working with the locales – all together in just 43 days! What an experience that was!
Can you give us some travel tips from your experiences in travel?
Pack light, carry lots of water to stay hydrated, and please take pictures – enjoy the scenery and the experience. And yes, make a friend on every trip you take.
So you have made friends with the passenger seated next to you? Are you the quiet type or the talkative type?
I am the talkative type. I meet a lot of people from various walks of life while flying. I meet businessmen, cinematographers, spiritual gurus, adventure seekers and enjoy the conversations which usually go beyond just the flight.
Would you like your children to join the aviation industry?
Yes, of course! Aviation industry is a vast industry with so many attributes and in the end of it all builds prosperity of a country, creating pathways and corridors for investments. So surely I would like my children to join this dynamic industry.
What is the latest destination Emirates is flying to? Any new routes?
This June, we started flights to to Zagreb, Croatia. The inaugural flight had 350 passengers on board. As for new routes, we meet with the Tourism Boards and Tour operators to understand the possible destinations we can explore. We also try to get views and ideas from our frequent flyers to expand our network.