Dawn Metcalfe wants you to speak up and loud!

Dawn Metcalfe wants you to speak up and loud!
Dawn Metcalfe, managing director, Performance Development Services

dubai - The entrepreneur runs a firm that coaches and mentors C-Suite executives in Dubai


Sandhya D'Mello

Published: Sat 12 Nov 2016, 5:51 PM

Last updated: Sat 12 Nov 2016, 7:54 PM

The uae is supportive of women who are born here and also to those who have chosen to make the country home, said Dawn Metcalfe, managing director, Performance Development Services.

"This is an exciting time to be in Dubai and be a woman. I attended the Women In Leadership Forum recently and it was phenomenal to see women from all backgrounds and nationalities [and some men!] come together to talk about the progress we've made in a relatively short time and what needs to happen next. In my experience, there are still lots of misconceptions about doing business here and I spend a lot of time telling potential residents not to worry - they won't be expected to wear an abaya and are allowed to speak!"

Metcalfe is an experienced coach, trainer and facilitator. Her first book, Managing the Matrix: How to Survive and Thrive in Your Organisation was published in 2014 and will soon come out in Arabic. She regularly writes for various publications such as Middle East Training Magazine Middle East, Gulf Business, Explorer UAE and LinkedIn (with one article generating over 80,000 hits). She also contributes to the Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye 103.8, speaking on various topics, and appeared at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature to discuss business writing.

Metcalfe advises C-Suite executives and high-potential employees to develop and deliver their events, ranging from delivering 30 minutes on a topic or moderating a panel to developing and facilitating a week-long corporate event.

PDS works with individuals, teams and organisations to help them get even better at what they do. The majority of its clients are large, blue-chip multinationals.

"We work across all industries because, in essence, what we do is always about people and how they can work more effectively together. I'm very proud of the fact that we are rehired and recommended by all our clients and that's how we've built the business in the last six years. Ironically, I left Ireland because it was too small and now working in what is, in effect, a very large village [Dubai] is the best thing. If you're in a business where reputation is important [and what business is that not true of] then, a tight-knit community where people talk is very important," said Metcalfe.

Metcalfe left Ireland at 17 and went to the UK to study languages and spent some time working in Europe. "When I left university, I went to Japan to teach for a year. I fell in love with Japan and teaching and ended up staying there for three years. From there, I moved to China and then Thailand and then back to the UK. I was on a fast-track programme to become a head teacher working in some of London's most challenging schools when I became ill. I was eventually diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis which is a painful, chronic condition and put an end to my teaching career."

A small management consultancy firm advised her to work with them to build their learning and development service. "They sent me on various executive education programmes and it was in Stanford that one of the professors suggested I think about coaching. I didn't even know it was a possible job! So, training and coaching is what I've always done - according to my family, I was teaching my fellow students at just four years old," she added.

Metcalfe thinks the UAE is hailed as one of the most progressive nations when it comes to women game changers.
"When we look at the number of women in government, there can be no doubt of the UAE's commitment to gender diversity. Like everywhere else, there is still a long way to go, of course, but in this country, everything is possible."

She works with the Reach mentoring organisation in the UAE and discovered that women need to build their self confidence. "Maybe, it's a lack of role models compared to men, but it's certainly true that where a man will apply for a job when he meets 70 per cent of the requirements, a woman will often wait until she meets 100 per cent. We all need to have self belief and confidence but, whether you're a man or a woman, it's important to do this without developing an arrogant or entitled attitude."

Managing the Matrix came out in 2014 and was translated into Arabic by the Saudi publishing house, Jarir, in 2016. It was written as a conversation between a mentor, Johan, and his mentee, Debra. In essence, it's about what it takes to work in a large organisation where, often, you have more than one boss. This is, of course, a very common situation for people working in Dubai where they might have a local manager in the region and another say, for example, in London.

Metcalfe's second book is under way and will be a companion to HardTalk (www.hardtalk.info), which is a three-day certified programme designed to help individuals and teams to have more effective difficult conversations.

"I'm very proud of it as it is built for the region we live in i.e. where we have the most diverse workplaces in the world. Diversity is key to creativity and innovation but unless we harness it and ensure that everyone speaks up and is heard, it doesn't bring the results it should.

"For example, research we conducted earlier in the year showed that 90 per cent of people saw things in their workplace they felt were inappropriate or incorrect but 70 per cent didn't say anything. Imagine the difference to productivity, safety, accountability, relationships and the bottom line if we could change that. That's now my mission," concluded Metcalfe.

- sandhya@khaleejtimes.com

More news from Business