Working for an international company in your home country is tough but rewarding

Craig Thomas. 25/09/07. © Unknown.
Craig Thomas. 25/09/07. © Unknown.

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

Working for a foreign company has its benefits and challenges but if well managed it can be a rewarding job.

Craig Thomast, 29, is the manager of Etihad Airways South Africa. He manages everything related to the airline such as the employees, legal affairs, compliance and marketing.

Etihad is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It launched in South Africa on September 1 2005 and flies to most international routes except South America.

"Working for an international company based in your home country is interesting. The airline industry is dynamic and in Africa it has grown by 8percent. This is evident by the number of airlines being launched in Africa," said Thomas.

"You need to be culturally adaptive and aware of the different ways of doing things. When doing business in the UAE honesty, integrity and trust are very important. English and Arabic are the two main languages of communication."

One needs to also be aware of the different business practices between both countries. This includes ensuring that the strategies from the UAE are localised for the South African market.

"I am passionate about my job. I still get goose bumps when I see a plane take off; I enjoy travelling," said Thomas.

"Our airline is multicultural and UAE is very cosmopolitan," he said.

Before joining Etihad, Thomas worked at De Beers and Virgin Atlantic.

His work is very demanding and challenging, requiring him to be on 24-hour standby. "This industry is very competi- tive. There are 54 international airlines that fly to South Africa. From a sales point of view, this is a challenge as we want to fill the plane while providing excellent customer service," said Thomas.

His role requires him to keep his team motivated and focused while delivering results.

"For this job, you need to pay attention to detail, be analytical and proactive, be a support system to your staff and employers, ensure that the budget fits with your budget plan and learn from other cultures and people worldwide," said Thomas.

"You also need to know and understand the local and global markets and how certain factors affect the airline industry such as the oil price, war, dollar price, travel patterns, politics and weather."

Thomas has a BA (Hons) in International Relations and Psychology and postgraduate diploma in Management from Gordon Institute of Business Science. His degree enables him to understand the world markets. On joining Etihad he knew the political, social and business aspects of the Middle East.

His day starts at 7.30am checking flight reports, meeting with various teams and preparing office reports.

To keep updated with the industry, he subscribes to news wires and networks.