Name: Dan Corfield
From: London, UK
Current job title: Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Middle East & Africa for Hilton Worldwide
When did you arrive in the UAE?
I first came to the UAE in August 2014 and it’s my first time in the Middle East region. Prior to that I was based in the UK.
Where did you work prior?
I’ve been with Hilton Worldwide since 2009. Most recently I was a part of Hilton Worldwide’s European Communications team in London as Senior Manager, Brand Public Relations.
What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
Busy and interesting – a hotbed of action. I work mostly with media that have an interest in the travel industry and believe our sector has exciting and creative content to offer – everyone loves to travel, as well as hear about it!
Have these impressions changed much?
For me, it’s too early to tell – I’m rapidly discovering an intriguing side to Dubai – food, culture and art. It’s different to home, but I feel energy amongst the media here. I think we all have a crucial role in telling what is a fascinating story and showcasing the ‘secret sauce’ of what makes Dubai a special place to live, work and travel.
Tell us about your new role…
I work as part of a small, yet dynamic team, based at our MEA regional office in Internet City. We oversee communications across a region that consists of almost 150 hotels open or under development.
In my new role, my focus is on the corporate side, working with our senior leaders at a regional and global level – mostly in terms of our multi-brand growth story, profiling our company as an employer of choice, internal communications, as well our corporate responsibility programme ‘Travel With Purpose’ – which deployed signature activities in the Middle East as part of Hilton Worldwide’s Global Week of Service 2014.
Whether it’s our own team members, bloggers or journalists – there is huge appetite to hear about what we do as a company and I love helping my colleagues both at regional and hotel levels to tell that story.
What challenges do you face?
We operate across a diverse region, in multiple time zones and with a variety of stakeholders. Our approach is to act as an internal agency to our ‘clients’ in the business – which keeps us on our toes, given the 24/7 nature of hotels and the extraordinary passion for hospitality within Hilton Worldwide.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I love hotels – everything about them from the back of house, to the busy lobby and especially the people who work across the many departments. I think this passion creates an incredibly rewarding environment to work in – I enjoy taking something, helping to make it bigger and better and then having the chance to tell everyone about it!
I also love researching Hilton’s almost 100-year history for the work we do. There has been so many Hilton firsts for the travel industry – it’s fascinating to understand Hilton’s international expansion of the 1950s and 60s, when Conrad Hilton was opening hotels in new cities across Europe and Africa. Having worked on the PR for many new hotel openings, from luxury to mid-market, it feels great to be able to play a part in this grand 100-year story.
What’s the most exciting thing to happen so far?
I went along to a pop-up restaurant run by Ghaf Kitchen at The Mojo Gallery – the event blew my socks off with the theatre of the kitchen and a beautifully crafted menu, all set against the backdrop of a contemporary gallery in a gritty industrial zone. It felt like an event you’d find in a trendy space in East London.
What do you think of the quality of media publications in the region?
Outstanding. It’s great to see regional spin-offs of some titles I’m familiar with in the UK and Europe. I also love to keep an eye on media at home – UK and European politics especially.
What sets you apart from other Corporate Communication Managers?
I’m fortunate to work in a sector that I love, that is also interesting to most people. I think getting under-the-skin of an industry is important and my background in hospitality helps me speak to the right people to quickly grasp the task-at-hand.
Work calls via landline, mobile or both?
Either – I’m good on Skype and Whatsapp too. LinkedIn for professional networking.
What’s your most overused saying?
Since I arrived in Dubai, I frequently find myself saying: “I think it’s near to…”
Five things you can’t live without?
New experiences – especially travel, Whatsapp – a great way to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues across time zones, friends and family (count as one), protein shakes and aviation.
If you weren’t in Corporate Communications, what would you be?