Welcome to EW’s weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and business people both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.

This week we chat with the director of Dubai-based, Bite Me Burger Co. originally hailing from the UK. Christian Tabet calls Dubai his second home as he’s also worked for an international oil company.

With a wealth of experience in the engineering industry, he took the leap of faith and jumped into the hospitality industry with this restaurant serving delightful mini-burgers, providing a mix of delights to share among your loved ones.

EW sat down with Tabet to find out more about his impressive career history and what paved his way to the world of F&B.

What was your favourite subject at school?

As I always excelled in the sciences at school, my favourite subject was physics, which eventually led me towards becoming an engineer. I went to school in Lebanon, Germany and the UAE as I grew up in different countries. However, throughout my school, it was the subject I enjoyed the most. With all the lab experiments accompanied with the subject in teams, I enjoyed the collaborative process just as much as the concept of exploration.

What was your first job?

Working with an international oil company as a management trainee was how I started off my career. I worked for the company for 28 years across different departments with my last role being Regional Managing Director. After leaving full-time employment at the end of 2018, I’m still actively involved in the oil and gas sector as I enjoy being part of the transition towards clean and sustainable energy.

What inspired you to go into the food industry?

My eldest son first came across this incredible brand – Bite Me Burger Co in the UK and along with my closest childhood friend, we decided to go for it and open the brand in this region, despite hospitality being a really interesting business but a tough one too, especially during COVID. Thankfully, as we’re quite passionate about the brand and know that the world of hospitality will come back strong in due course as we definitely intend to grow Bite Me Burger Co over the next years.

What eventually brought you to Dubai?

My father was seconded from Germany to Sharjah in the ’70s so I virtually grew up here. Now the UAE is our home and we love living in Dubai. Our kids were also born and raised here and are presently working from home, one of them on UK hours. Frankly, why go anywhere else when the entire world is trying to come here. We are blessed to be able to live in the UAE, especially during the winter months.

What are the key elements of your role?

My role is to try to do the right things. There are plenty of others who know how to do things right. With the division of labour that works for me and it also gives space for others to grow.

Talk us through your daily routine.

While being an early riser, I generally wake up before 6am and head out in the mornings for some exercise to then catch the sun afterwards while I enjoy a nice coffee on the terrace. I usually scroll through a bunch of electronic news from the world over and then get to my emails. I try to organize several days a week to cluster my Teams and Zoom meetings but mostly I tend to go out to attend meetings from 10am onwards and then will head back to Teams all afternoon until the evenings. Before COVID, I used to play music with a band and we’d occasionally play for friends and in venues, mostly for fun. We can’t wait to get back into it once it is possible again. On weekends, I try to socialize with friends and family but more often than not, I still attend to conference calls. The world has changed and the concept of a Friday or a weekend when you just chill out is long gone. That’s not too bad when the rest of your work week is fluid but I do sometimes have access to the calendars of others and realize that some people work even longer hours during COVID than ever before.

Bite me burger Venue

What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?

Don’t just cut your own path as every journey is unique and you can’t emulate anybody, especially since there’s no reason to. While some enjoy being entrepreneurial and starting their own business, other’s prefer a career with a global multinational in the public sector or to even work for a socially oriented organization. Each person has his career anchors and his personal drivers. When I grew up the only acceptable choice I was given was to become a lawyer, doctor or engineer. The approach to was more linear then because your career choices dictated your earning potential and lifestyle. Thankfully, the career cycle is more circular now and there are no hard and fast rules you need to follow – just keep it legal and ethical would be my only advise. Otherwise, you don’t have a long-term chance in any industry. If you have a passion, make it your career, find a way to make a positive contribution to society and generate serious wealth from it.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Natural ability can get you so far in life but in order to maximise your potential, you need to put in the effort. This piece of advice was given to me by one of my teachers who was a mentor and it resonated powerfully. So many people have naturally given talents but they do not understand that it takes serious commitment, hard work, discipline and sometimes sacrifice to channel success.

And what is the worst?

I don’t remember specifically as I got so much good and bad advice along the way. Too many people like to give advice and most of the time it is based on their own bias. Very few people are good at giving purely objective advice. Those are the ones to listen to. The worst ones are those who are half experts and turn themselves into sages based on a modicum of success. Stay away from those who like the sound of their own voice too much. I hope this is good advice – because I am not a sage myself.

What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

One of the interesting challenges I went through was to transition from a senior position in a multi-national firm to almost a one-man show where you constantly need to market yourself to others in the business. It is quite a sobering experience but can be highly rewarding at the same time. Add a global pandemic to the mix, a couple of new business investments, a few tricksters along the way and you can visualize the meltdown potential if you don’t have a strong sense of self.

What are your goals for 2021?

My objective for 2021 is to continue to develop personally and to be there for others if they desire. I can’t wait for the world to re-open again and look forward to travelling, reconnecting with friends and family and sourcing more opportunities for growth.

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For more information regarding the brand or to place a delivery visit bitemeburgerco.ae