Welcome to the Emirates Woman weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that 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 put the spotlight on Iliana Orietta, Senior Marketing Director of the Daylife Division & Head of Corporate MARCOM at Sunset Hospitality Group, whose brands include a dynamic roster of concepts and brands in Dubai and beyond such as Drift Beach, Aura Skypool Longe, Azure Beach, and Folie Restaurant & Sea in Bodrum, Turkey.
To understand Iliana’s multi-faceted role, we caught up with the marketing veteran to learn about her remarkable journey, the finer details of crafting the perfect brand experience and upcoming openings in the pipeline.
Scroll through to read the interview below and find out more.
What was your favourite subject at school?
I was always attracted to history, geography, and literature, with a weak spot for geography.
What was your first job?
I started my career working in travel agencies, and since then, I was always involved in the hospitality industry. It seems I was always destined to work in hospitality and marketing.
What eventually brought you to Dubai?
Dubai is dynamic, cosmopolitan and has in its core the concept of hospitality; it’s a hub for innovation and my passion for hospitality and marketing drove me here, seeking exciting opportunities in the industry.
What inspired you to enter the hospitality space?
I’m originally from Greece, a country at the heart of hospitality and tourism, so it felt natural to start working in travel agencies, hotels, and then event companies and eventually hospitality groups.
Talk us through the concept of Sunset Hospitality Group.
Sunset Hospitality Group was founded in 2011 with a vision to create exceptional dining and hospitality experiences worldwide, from hotel resorts and beach clubs to restaurants and nightlife venues. It began with just an idea, driven by a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the market, and now we are fortunate enough to operate very popular brands around the world.
The last eleven years saw the Group grow at a rapid rate (I’ve been with the Group for six years); we are present in 16 countries, with over 30 brands. Since the beginning we’ve maintained our excellence, diversified our offerings, while continually developing new and pioneering concepts and acclaimed multinational brands. Most of our brands have received local, regional, and international recognitions.
What are the key elements of your role?
I lead the marketing strategy for numerous lifestyle brands of Sunset Hospitality Group, as well as heading the Group’s Corporate Marketing. The part I love the most is conceptualizing, developing, and launching new brand concepts – I’m proud of what we’ve achieved so far, for example, we launched the iconic AURA Skypool Lounge, the multi-awarded beach club DRIFT Beach, Dubai’s homegrown concept Azure Beach, and Folie Restaurant & Sea in Bodrum, Turkey. And to name a few, we are working on new and exciting openings in Bali including Attiko, Folie, Santana, Mamasita, we’re taking Dubai’s homegrown concept Azure Beach to Marbella and Vietnam, and we will bring Attiko to Vietnam.
Talk us through your daily routine.
My days always start very early – I like to begin with my coffee, then always some form of exercise which gives me energy and strength for the day, and then I head to the office at Sunset’s headquarters. My role requires me very often to travel to several of Sunset’s global destinations as I’m heading projects and managing teams all over the world. At the office, my day is focused on leading a very talented team and working across Marcom strategy, brand conceptualization, reaching financial target goals, designing and implementing brand standards, and managing a growing team of eight locally, and several more globally.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
The key to success is passion and dedication. Loving what you do, being part of an amazing team, and having leaders with a clear vision helps you achieve your wildest dreams. Never give up, and even if you face challenges, you pause, regroup and continue. Find your passion and turn it to a job.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
It never gets easy – you just become better!
And what is the worst?
I never received a bad piece of advice. I tend to listen to people I trust and those people always have my best interest in mind.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
Life happens as we progress with our professional career so it’s of course challenging managing personal situations while working in high positions. Maintaining a healthy personal life and a successful professional career will always be my priority.
What are your future goals and plans for your career?
I love what I’m doing so my goal is to grow further within Sunset Hospitality Group and be proud of more brand creations, concept openings, and international expansion.
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