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Hopscotch Heroes - Eiléen Lee-Connor

8-min read: Inspirational women are everywhere in the world, and none are more so than those balancing kids, careers and everything else in between on a daily basis.

Hopscotch Heroes is our way of celebrating such women - we've previously featured sports stars, authors, entrepreneurs, presenters, bloggers, thought leaders and business superstars (and some of them have ticked all those boxes!).  This month we sit down with one of Dubai's most resourceful, resilient and positive characters - recent founder of WomenWhoWorkDubai and single mother, Eiléen Lee-Connor.  She's been a huge supporter of Hopscotch and its cause from the very beginning and we are fascinated to hear how her life and career has progressed since we first met back in 2016, as well as what has led her to start to flex her entrepreneurial muscle once more in Dubai.

Grab a cuppa and get ready for some inspiration!

Hopscotch: Hello Eiléen!  Tell us a bit about your daily routine.

Eiléen: As a single mom and entrepreneur, my days can be extremely varied, so my daily routines need to be flexible but fairly regimented. Generally, I get up around 6am to ready myself then my young son for school drop off while listening to the Business Breakfast to keep me informed about the UAE and wider world’s economy.

After this, I may go straight to a meeting, take care of an errand, get online to begin work at home or in a café or combo of all. Before I know it, it’s time for school pick up and 1-on-1 with my son about what’s happened in school. Once we get home, we walk our cocker spaniel and feed our always-hungry adopted kitty before settling into a meal. I recently picked up a second-hand Thermomix which I fully intend will change my life by teaching me to cook and how to make healthy meals in a flash!

Around 7:30pm I start my son’s bedtime routine and our nightly gratefulness exercise where we name 3-10 things that made us happy that day and watch the Burj Khalifa light up from the comfort of our bed. Once he is fast asleep, I light a scented candle and get back to finishing whatever work I had started earlier. I am not sure why, but I tend to do some of my best thinking in the evenings!

H: What is your family background/current situation and how has this influenced your life today?

E: I come from a family of serial entrepreneurs, so I approach problems as a potential business opportunity. I am also going through a tough divorce in Dubai and this has opened up a whole new world of relate-ability and transition for me. There is always room for improvement and the glass is always half full. I’ve been in and out of the rat race for so long that I try not to sweat the small stuff although this is often at odds with my perfectionist nature and attention to detail!

H: What three key tips could you share in promoting work/life balance that have helped you in the past?

E: I’d say my insatiable need to learn more means I am always attending a workshop or class, researching and applying new trends while networking with interesting people from all walks of life. This has helped me tremendously not only personally, but as a marketing consultant since I am able to understand consumer behaviour and brands from a kaleidoscope of perspectives and this is always evolving.

H: Who do you look up to and why?

E: I look up to women who multitask and trust their abilities especially when their careers are not a straight line- I mean, is anyone’s career straight anymore? Diverse women like Melinda Gates, Victoria Beckham, Meghan Markle and Julie Wainwright the founder of The Real Real really inspire me. I think anyone that takes palatable risks and especially reinvents themselves successfully is a total boss. We are at a unique time in history when we are living longer and can have many lives which is a wonderful weave for our fabric of society.

H: What keeps you moving forward and what threatens to hold you back?

This is an interesting question because I can think of generic answers like children that motivate and crappy bosses that hold us back, but if I dig deeper it’s all down to my mental state that denotes success or demise. It’s crazy but so many women, (myself included) have had a fear of success and therefore put all their efforts into elevating others around them rather than pursuing their own dreams. Breaking this mental habit of self-sabotage will automatically not only improve your own situation and secure your future, but ironically uplift everyone around you too!

H: Tell us a bit about what you're working on these days?

E: Aside from my Smarketinginternational.com consulting work helping clients with a variety of marketing solutions for their businesses, I have recently started a Facebook community called WomenWhoWorkDubai. Here, women can collectively keep one another informed on important changing regulations, advice on taking the next step in whatever career direction they find themselves in while making sure advice for selfcare and wellness is incorporated along the way. The latter value is definitely a result of my being a Beauty Expert for decades and helping others, including myself, overcome so many skin and stress-related issues. Being an expat in a foreign country without a normal family support system offers a terrific opportunity to share and learn from one other. Therefore, I wanted to build a safe space where we can openly discuss things that relate to constructing our own sense of self through work and living abroad in answer to the age-old question of what work & life balance looks like. I actively encourage members to self-promote, ask questions and offer special deals so we can all profit from supporting one another. Soon, WWWD will start to host events where we can not only forge online connections but face to face relationships as well!

As a naturally confident and curious mind, I’ve encountered a variety of job opportunities that have spanned multiple personalities and industries at different stages in their lifecycle. At one point I took a few years off to focus on my family and it surprised me how quickly one can lose a part of their identity despite having honed skills for many decades beforehand. After struggling to adapt to life outside of work, I signed up right away for a “returnship” the minute I heard that Dubai was adopting this international model to help women who have paused their careers for whatever reason. Once there, my self-value once again returned as it became evident that I am able to contribute to a wide assortment of client pitches or add a fresh approach targeting audiences. This has helped me go out on my own with Smarketinginternational.com and just goes to show that nothing you do is ever really lost or a waste of time!

If you would like to nominate someone you know to be a Hopscotch Hero, please let us know by emailing us.

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