Dr Alastair Watson is Assistant Professor at the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) and currently teaches Business Communications, Introduction to Management and Strategic Management at undergraduate and postgraduate level. He has a keen interest in Management, Marketing and Organisational Behaviour. Prior to joining UOWD Alastair was Assistant Professor in Management at Heriot-Watt University Dubai Campus, and Teaching Assistant during the completion of his PhD at their Edinburgh Campus. He also spent a number of years as an active operating manager within branded restaurants as well as hotels in the UK. Whilst completing his doctorate, he moved into training, quality and regional recruitment with a large branded restaurant operator in the UK. Dr Watson’s research interests are Staff Commitment & Motivation, Institutions, and Customer Service and Loyalty.

There were a few reasons that I decided I wanted to go back to studying after 8 years.  First, I started to hate what I did for work.  I had previously been a Hotel General Manager, and then moved into Branded Restaurants, working for one of the largest operators in the UK.  The job was grueling, and depressing.  Constantly working extra shifts, extra hours, having to work under-staffed due to unrealistic budget constraints, and then justify why the food quality and customer service were, to put a crude twist on it, pretty crappy – if you don’t have the staff, how do you meet such high expectations?!

However, the basis of my work-life experience (along with a fateful meeting at work with an old friend from when I did my post-grad course), took me to a level that I had been burdened with thinking about for a few weeks. I had become bored; and I felt my work life slipping away in front of me.  Looking at people around me who had been a GM with our Company for over 10 years, and the soulless life that most Area Managers existed in, I knew I didn’t want that.  I also had a hankering to possibly leave the country to work (and I’ve got to say, that although there are a few bureaucratic road bumps, I’m enjoying my work and social lives in Dubai now!).  If I was leaving the country, there was no way it was to do what I already did, and the Lecturer life appealed…I always enjoyed training at work, and wanted to give back in some way, helping young people to engage in something that could change their future…depending on their attitude, anyway!  Plus, some of our students will potentially be in a place at some point in time where they are responsible for serious issues that will affect me in my dotage!

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So, back to that fateful encounter, over 3 years ago…the shift from hell, with moaning customers, and a queue out the door to wait for a table.  It was the night that has ultimately changed my life, and one that I am, I guess, grateful for staying on an extra hour in that job that I hated!  I’ll cover more of that in my next post…


Picture by dominiccampbell under CC license.