Mehdi Othmani: Creating An Inspiring Expat Example, Via Compassionate Leadership

  • 5 Aug 2015 9:00 AM
Mehdi Othmani: Creating An Inspiring Expat Example, Via Compassionate Leadership
Mr. Mehdi Othmani, a German national born in Tunisia, has extensive experience in international hospitality management. As a multi-lingual, he has an innate communicative skill that has proven effective in the industry and extremely successful with his colleagues, staff, and most importantly with his guests that has allowed him to make a positive impact wherever he goes. caught up with Mr. Othmani at the end of his term as General Manager of the Hilton Hurghada Plaza on the Red Sea in Egypt, before embarking on to new horizons in Africa with Hilton Worldwide.

He graciously accepted our request for an interview about his time as an expat in Egypt, not only his likes and dislikes but about his achievements and proudest moments. His answers make for an interesting read, as he provides us with great candor and deep insights. It is no wonder he exemplifies effective leadership.

Within the work environment, Mr Othmani sees no limit in ways to add extra value to any service or product. With his compassionate style of leadership and engaging personality coupled with his high standards of service and community and environmental care, the team under his guidance confirms the inspiration he has instilled in them to be the best they can be and continuously look for ways to improve.

Further, he strived to convey the importance in maintaining fresh motivation as a stimulus by cultivating a shared sense of achievement along with acknowledgement and reward.

In the interview, he explains that direct and concise action is needed to overcome any old patterns of inefficient practices or behaviors. Mr Othmani, regardless of any success never rests on his laurels and he passes this message on to his team to approach all challenges as if it were the first with the same passion that drives an endeavor to a positive outcome.

He has worked hard to cultivate a highly respected expat reputation in Egypt, in good part by creating ways to help others in the community at large - all whilst delivering both company success and enjoyable holidays for thousands of guests from across the globe.

Mr Mehdi and his team are no stranger to winning trophies and awards. Last june they received the 2015' WTA ( World Travel Award) double trophies for being Africa’s Leading All Inclusive Hotel as well as Egypt leading Green Hotel.

His comments speak volumes about the man and his integral conviction about teamwork, "Being recognized as Africa's Leading All-Inclusive Resort by the World Travel Award makes the work that we have been doing really worthwhile. My heartfelt congratulations go to my amazing team that made it all possible. Success never comes from just one person but a collaboration of a team."

Mr. Othmani continued, "These accolades recognize the commitment to excellence our team has been demonstrating. I am confident that they will keep up this winning streak for the many years to come in our host country"

Commitment to the environment and conservation efforts are significant and proof of this lies in a recent initiative when the General Manager and his team hosted 614 scuba divers to collect trash from the sea in Hurghada, which gained them official recognition in the Guinness Books of Records for the biggest underwater clean up.

At the time of this achievement Mr. Othmani said: "We are honored to host this great initiative; contributing to the preservation of the Red Sea. This event reiterates our commitment toward environmental sustainability where we operate, but it also contributes to promote Egypt as one of the top tourism destinations in the world. Joining forces with the Ministry of Tourism is vital in conveying the message to the world that Egypt is back on the map”.

In recognition of his commitment to the environment, in 2014 he and his team won the WTA Africa’s Leading Green Hotel. This outstanding achievement highlights their sustainable practices and local community initiatives, such as the support of various communities NGO’s, and programs that target disadvantaged segments of the population, and orphaned children.

Click here for more about this Green Globe Award

This Xpat Interview is in part a review of his time leading the team at Hilton Hurghada Plaza, recorded for posterity as a noteworthy example of how to leave an expat legacy, which fellow expats may well find inspiring. Every expat has a responsibility to leave a positive footprint and Mr Mehdi leaves a great one to follow.


What do you like best about living in Hurghada?
It has some of the best weather in the world. Personally I hate rain and snow. I also really liked that people here are very welcoming.

What is your most cherished memory of Hurghada, Egypt?
Helping those less fortunate is very important to me. Teaming up with the Hope Village Association , an egyptian NGO has been monumental in helping orphaned children. As a part of our efforts, we started with the first medical convoy that took volunteer doctors offering medical service to kids in the community far from the main cities. We planned to spend 3-4 hours with the children but the need was so great that up to 10 hours administering care.

Upon our departure, the local sheikh asked about helping the adults. Subsequently, we organized another trip that included a collection of various items that were so needed in this impoverished area. It was so very touching to see how happy they were to see us again.

Initiatives like the medical convoy and numerous other organized events such as 'Olympic Day' are worth mentioning as they are festive activities for local kids and orphans. It is so heartwarming to see them enjoy themselves without a care in the world even for a good few hours.

How long have you been an expat, where have you lived?
I have been an expat for over 17 years living in Morocco, Turks & Caicos Island, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Kenya, and Egypt.

What was the luckiest moment in your life so far?
Luckiest moments are when my wife and I welcomed our son, Nicolas , into our world and few years later we welcomed our daughter, Sofia, with the same joy.

What is the secret of your success?
The secret lies in the discipline of execution. As well, I believe strongly in follow-up. It's important to create a culture of accountability, with clear defined expectations and rewards within your executive team.

What would you do differently given what you know now?
To better understand the mind-set of all the people involved in the process, any process, and so I would not have assigned specific tasks to certain peoples.

What was the most interesting travel trip you have ever taken?
Turks and Caicos Islands, between Bahamas and the Dominican Republic was most interesting. We had a truly amazing time spent on Iguana Island. Another worth mentioning is a trip to Eilat in Israel, where we swam with dolphins.

Tell us a guilty pleasure.

What do you suggest people should do while at the Hilton Hurghada Plaza?
Get up early and go out on the terrace to enjoy sunrise. And watch sunset with a glass of champagne with the one you love.

If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
Hotel California.

If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?
"If it does not challenge you ... it does not change you"

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
I would choose the island of Djerba located off the coast of Tunisia.

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, with whom would it be?
I would trade places with Petra, my wife.

If you were given a wish that could come true, what would you ask for?
My wish is for the stability and security in my country of birth.

What has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why?
The death of my father may his soul rest in peace. He was my refuge, my adviser and my confidante.

If you were on an island and could only take three things, what would you bring?
I would bring a book, wine and cheese.

In ten years from now what will you be doing?
I would definitely not be doing what I was doing 10 years ago.

What would you say is your personal motto?
What comes around goes around.

What question would you ask if you interviewed yourself?
Are you happy where you are now?
Oh, yes, on all levels. I am happy to have such a great team since everything I aimed to achieve was done with their help and that of my family.

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