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 chat with Diana Rysbaeva, a Dubai-based restauranteur and founder of SHÌ, located on Bluewaters Island. Having first launched last year, the restaurant has become hugely popular on the Dubai F&B scene and despite being less than six months old, there’s already plans for expansion.

Emirates Woman sat down with the restaurateur to find out what inspired her to enter the Dubai F&B space and what the future holds for this fine-dining hotspot.

What was your favourite subject at school?

From childhood, I was interested in exploring history across the globe, economics and politics. My favourite subject was economics to understand the concepts about doing business and the global economy. I think that’s where I get my business mentality, it was something I enjoyed from a young age and I’ve picked up skills as I’ve got older, that I use now.

SHI Views

What was your first job?

Since I was always interested in business and was discovering myself & finding my true passion in finding the right business for me. Eventually, I ended up perusing my passion in the F&B sector. From the outset, I was making money through one-off projects/assignments until I was 20 years old and then opened my first cafe in my home country, which was a massive success and gave me enough confidence to try different projects over the period.

What eventually brought you to Dubai?

For me, Dubai is probably the best place to live on the planet. It is very welcoming for everyone including nationals, investors, tourists and expats. They make launching venues and supporting new openings easy and if it wasn’t for the support, it wouldn’t have happened for me. Everyone in the world is fascinated by the vision of leadership and the Government systems in place to protect and support residents here. My personal history includes being a tourist for the last 10 years. I have had many trips back and forth and always feel at home here. During the visits, I explored Dubai and came up with the idea that I should bring my investments here and live here. I moved here with my family because the education is the best and the outdoor living is something I know my kids definitely appreciate too.

What inspired you to go into the F&B space and become a restauranteur?

The inspiration behind my passion to pursue my dream of building a restaurant is the satisfaction that I feel from the amazing experience of our guests. This sense of satisfaction keeps me motivated and gives me the energy to come up with new ideas to make experiences better and better for our guests. I am addicted to making the guests happy, as well as ensuring the team are all well looked after and happy. I also love to teach people things I’ve learnt along the way, the staff are all in charge of ensuring the guests have the best experience. This is something I learnt about when I opened my café – that personal touch is really important.

Can you talk us through the inspiration behind SHÌ?

Being a student of history and Asian, I was always interested in exploring China, its rich culture & history, as well as the delicious cuisine. I discovered the interesting era of the first emperor of China Qin Shi Huang, back in 210 – 209 BCE . SHI means generations and eternity and I wanted to have this name to keep my brand everlasting for the coming generations.

What are the key elements of your role?

Key elements of my role are ensuring the restaurant ambience and experience of our guests remains amazing. Recruiting and retaining the best talent of the F&B industry and expanding the brand regionally and globally. I am passionate about the well-being of the staff, they’re the face of the business, so it’s important customer service and knowledge of the menu is understood by all staff members. I am often training the staff in the food and ways the food is prepared, people these days like to know what they’re eating and it’s always fascinating to hear stories behind the dishes. Of course, I oversee the finance side of things, as well as the marketing and guest relations too.

Talk us through your daily routine.

My daily routine is to wake up early in the morning as a mother, my kids will always be a priority. I exercise daily, to drive myself best for the day. I spend most of the day overseeing projects across the globe including SHI. On a personal side, I am a very sociable person and love to meet my friends on regular basis. Networking is a big aspect of my job, I like to be the face of the brand and ensure people know me for me, as well as the owner of SHI. I think it’s important in Dubai to attend as many events as possible to ensure you’re known.

SHÌ Restaurant, Bluewaters Island Dubai

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

Dream big and put in the hard work to visualise the dream into reality. Don’t listen to negative thoughts and personal doubts. Anyone can study and work for something if they want it badly enough. It doesn’t happen overnight – you need to give yourself the time to make sure you’re truly focused.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

The best piece of advice I got is from my dad when he said, “The road will go by master”. I always used to say it to myself when it comes to every aspect of my life.

And what is the worst?

I am surrounded by positive people and generally have good advice, however, sometimes I have been advised to stop being super progressive. Although sometimes I think this works in my favour.

What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

The biggest challenge is to hire the right people and retain them being a new brand in Dubai. Dubai has so many restaurants, it’s tricky to encourage everyone to stay in one place for a long period of time. I hope my staff feel confident in my leadership and will stay at Shi for the foreseeable.

What are the future plans for your brand?

The plan is to scale up the brand globally through organic growth, entering into partnerships and franchising. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for SHI and hope my success is a continuation of all the hard work I have put into making the brand work.

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Images: Supplied