A mind of her own
Sam is an Executive and member of the Trade Mark Team in Dubai
At a secondary school Parent/Teacher meeting, Sam’s parents were told: “Don’t worry about Sam – she’s an attractive girl. She’ll find a husband”. It sounds rather outrageous these days, but in the world of Sam’s childhood, the attitude was typical. And in one way the teachers were right: there was no need to worry about Sam; she did find a husband. But that was just the beginning. Sam’s teachers hadn’t recognised either her academic leaning or her independent spirit.
Sam grew up on a farm in Worcestershire in England and attended a local private school frequented largely by children whose parents had established their own businesses and done very well. It was a comfortable and pleasant environment and one that Sam initially fitted into very well. But by the time she got into her senior years at school, there were signs that she might not be fitting the mould.
The school placed little emphasis on academic achievement – in fact, only three of Sam’s classmates went on to university, most went into the family business. But as time went on, Sam began to develop a love of history and to do well academically. Even so, the idea of going to University was a world away and when Sam’s mother suggested she enrol in a rather old-fashioned secretarial course, Sam, who was 16 at the time, went along with the idea. It didn’t take her long, however, to decide that it was not for her and that she wanted to go back and continue her studies. There was no opposition from her parents, more a kind of bemusement. They never really understood what she was up to. It just wasn’t part of their way of life. “Even today” Sam says with a laugh, “I think Mum thinks I’m a secretary, not a lawyer”.
So Sam went back, completed her A levels, and decided to study Law at the nearby University of Wolverhampton. And she loved every minute of it: studying just seemed to come naturally. On graduation she joined a small local law firm where she qualified and then joined the Law Society of England and Wales to work on compliance issues. It was a job she really enjoyed, partly because of the academic element, partly because of the independent nature of the role, and partly because it gave her the opportunity to visit law firms and discuss compliance issues with practitioners throughout England and Wales.
Along the way, however, she met and married Mitch, who at the time was working in shipping and logistics. They were both keen to go and work abroad for three or four years and when Mitch was offered a job in Dubai – which at that time was still relatively undeveloped - they decided it would be a bit of an adventure for a few years. So Mitch accepted the job and Sam began life as an expat wife. Not surprisingly, she didn’t last more than six weeks in that role. Stuart Adams offered her a job at Rouse after an interview for a job as his secretary – and, apart from three years working in-house with a large Dubai development company, she’s been there ever since. She says joining Rouse was a stroke of luck – she’s enjoyed the non-hierarchical and entrepreneurial environment and says she just can’t see herself working for most law firms.
Sam enjoys living in Dubai, particularly enjoying the sense of space and freedom, and the range of outdoor activities available, from swimming and boating in the warm waters of the Arabian Gulf (Sam has a power boat licence) to venturing into the surrounding desert and mountains. And it has proved to be the ideal place to bring up children: Sam’s daughter Portia is now 15 and her son Charlie 11. Sam’s parents, who have been able to visit regularly over the years, understand perfectly why Sam and her husband have chosen to live and bring up their children in Dubai. It would, they say, have been much more of a struggle in the UK.
As the children grow older, however, things are inevitably more challenging, and when the time comes they are both likely to go to university in the UK. In the meantime, however, Portia is showing considerable equestrian ability - Sam has recently shipped a horse from UK to Dubai for her - and Charlie is a keen footballer, dreaming of one day playing for Manchester United.
Sam is adamant that she has become a city girl through and through and couldn’t possibly go back to live in the country with its unreliable internet access and uncertain mobile phone cover. But a country girl never completely leaves the country, and Sam says the arrival of Portia’s horse, Rocka, has revived memories of her early days riding in the country. She’s even begun riding again, but these days it seems a very long way down – which probably means she’s unlikely to resume her riding career. She’ll leave that to Portia, who is already happily going over fences Sam wouldn’t dream of attempting. But even if Sam isn’t resuming her riding career, the arrival of Rocka has meant she’s been spending many hours at the stables. And, always ready for a challenge, she’s also been spending many hours honing her horse trailer backing skills – now, much to her satisfaction, she’s become something of an expert.
Being in Dubai has also meant that Sam and her family have been able to indulge their passion for travel. Over the years, Dubai has developed into a global air hub making travel to and from other places ever easier. This summer, the family plans to go to Japan for the first time, next month they will be skiing in Austria, and there are bound to be many and varied trips in the future.
Sam’s teachers would no doubt be surprised to see the life she has carved out for herself – but they shouldn’t be. It was never likely that someone as vibrant, intelligent, and independent-minded as Sam was going to settle down to a quiet life in the country.