Aline Ashkarian, country general manager of Patchi, talks to MOJEH about the rewards and challenges of being a businesswoman.
Tell us about yourself.
I am from Lebanese-Armenian roots, born and raised in Lebanon where my father was a professor at the American University of Beirut – I believe that’s where I get my love for learning and constant desire to be the best.
Tell us about your time in Dubai.
I currently call the UAE my home, as I have been here for a little over 15 years. Personally, I find the UAE a very inspiring place to be. The country’s rapid development that I’ve personally witnessed, and how our leaders strive for excellence is an inspiration in my work as well as personal life. Since moving to the UAE I have worked in various fields before joining Patchi in 2009.
Tell us about your relationship with Patchi.
When I joined Patchi in 2009, I started off as a Business Manager, where I played a key role in retail and corporate operations. After six years I was promoted to General Manager of the Industrial Development Company (IDC), which is Patchi’s chocolate manufacturing plant.
This new role was very rewarding and challenging at the same time. It was very exciting to oversee and understand the production cycle and the manufacturing process, which delivers immediate tangible results and products in a controlled environment where raw materials are transformed into a finished product; which is quite different from what I am used in the corporate settings.
From there I was promoted to Country General Manager for Patchi UAE, where I am currently the first women to hold this role at Patchi UAE.
What challenges have you overcome?
The biggest challenge I faced since joining Patchi was in 2013. I was tasked by Mr Oussama Choucair, Patchi UAE’s Chief Executive Officer, to establish a new factory in record time. While this was the first time that I’ve ever been assigned with such an enormous task, I took on the challenge and coordinated on the project on its entirety, and was able to deliver the new project in 7 months.
It wasn’t easy, but I made it. There were tears, and days where I woke up wanting to give up. Honestly speaking, if it wasn’t for Mr. Oussama believing in me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
What skills are needed to become a successful businesswoman?
Success is an iceberg. When we look at successful people, we tend to see the tip of the iceberg. We do not see the persistence, the failures, the dedication, the hard work, the sacrifice, and the discipline behind this success.
A successful leader knows the importance of delegation and trust, and how they impact her business. Trusting and believing in your team’s capabilities, empowering them, and delegating tasks – at the end of the day, as much as we want to believe that we can do everything by ourselves, we cannot. We always have to remember that everyone has something to offer, no matter how young or old, experienced or even inexperienced.
What are the main positives of working with luxury chocolate gifts?
You mean other than access to unlimited chocolate?
To me it is how every moment has the potential to feel like an occasion with the right gift – and chocolate is (almost) always right.
Which is your favourite Patchi chocolate?
My personal favourite Patchi chocolate is Croq’Amande Noir.
What’s your best chocolate-based memory?
Probably the first time I set foot in the factory when I joined Patchi. It really does bring out the child in everyone! It makes you feel like Charlie when he won the golden ticket, the smell alone is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.