What Being Cabin Crew Taught Me About Building a Personal Brand

Do you ever like to ponder on a plane?

Recently, I was flying back to Dubai and – in the words of Carrie Bradshaw – “So I got to thinking…” about my cabin crew days. Yes, before I was an entrepreneur, I flew all over the world with Emirates and hung up my wings in 2005 to launch my first business. That job taught me so much. Without a doubt, it was the catalyst for my personal brand. 

For a start, public image was – and still is – important within aviation. We would spend a week in training to ensure that the way we presented ourselves on a flight was impeccable. The standard had to be consistent, the bar never lowered. This has stayed with me and helped build a strong foundation for my personal brand. 

First impressions are everything in business, and thanks to my training, I have zero tolerance for slipping standards. 

Flying for a living was also a big lesson in time management. Every month, we received a roster in advance. We knew what we were doing and where we were going, no grey areas. Now, running my own business, I plan weeks ahead and use this strategy within my personal brand. It’s important to allow flexibility, realistically, but organisation and a clear, concise schedule is a must. I think this mindset has always ticked a box for me. Did you know, that before I travelled, I always made sure that my suitcase was packed the night before? Always! And of course, this is a good habit that has stuck around.

My personal brand started to evolve in the sky, too. I started out in economy, and within two years, I was working in business class.

A whole new set of skills were introduced to me which required focus, dedication and detail. This is where I thrived. I constantly asked myself, what can I do to improve? How can I be the best? How can my skills help others?

Whilst planning and preparation was always key, no two flights were ever the same. I learnt how to improvise and adapt to various situations with ultimate professionalism. Every flight was packed with different people with very different needs, too. It became my mission to stand out, to offer them a second-to-none service.

I remember holding a baby for three hours, cuddling and cooing, because the mother was tending to her toddler and didn’t have any other support on board. Once, an elderly couple admitted they had never flown before and I aimed to reassure them every step of the way.

Whether it was for tourism or business, I was right there, on hand, to recommend restaurants and places to shop. It was particularly exciting meeting people who were taking the plunge and becoming an expat themselves. I answered every question they had, always with a smile and going – quite literally! – the extra (air) mile!

So, how do your previous work experiences compare? What did you learn from your first job that you can apply to your business today? Being cabin crew defined me for a short time, but elements will stay with me forever. This is unique to me, and of course, to my personal brand.

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