Deborah Bellis Wyborn is the CEO and Founder of Relocate MENA and Relo-Global, two leading companies in the relocation and immigration industry in the Middle East and North Africa region.
With her expertise and leadership, she has built these companies to become trusted partners for both individuals and corporations seeking relocation and immigration services. Under her guidance, Relocate MENA and Relo-Global have established themselves as reliable and innovative providers of end-to-end relocation solutions, including visa and immigration services, home search, school search, and settling-in services.
Deborah’s vision and passion for the industry have led to her companies’ success and recognition in the region, making her a respected and influential figure in the business community.
How did you start your entrepreneurship journey?
In 2010, I worked as a key account manager in London, supplying some of the top names in the food and packaging industry, such as M&S, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. However, my life took a turn when I moved to Dubai 13 years ago with only three suitcases and a Nespresso coffee machine. While in Dubai, I started working in real estate with Mahendran Yadav at Emirates Homes Real Estate. He taught me the importance of kindness and being open to opportunities in order to succeed. My first client was the head of Nokia, who was relocating to the Middle East, and I helped him find a suitable property and manage his relocation.
After three years in real estate, I began a new challenge and took a role handling the global mobility move of Apple into the Middle East for an international relocation company in Dubai. This marked the start of my relocation and mobility career. Over time, I managed business development and key accounts in the shipping industry for household goods and personal effects but unexpectedly lost my job during Covid.
This event led me to create my own company, Relocate MENA, which provides a faster, simpler, and more cost-effective way for clients to relocate. During that year, I also created our cloud-based app, www.relo-global.com/en. We do this by maintaining a single point of contact with the relocating family or individual and making the entire relocation process digital.
One of the challenges of shipping household goods worldwide is the variability in rates provided by different moving companies, causing stress and inefficiency for the client. At Relocate MENA, we provide rates through a blind bid RFQ process. We give a surveyed volume of the home to all internationally accredited packing and moving companies in the home or host country.
We do not disclose any information that may impact the cost of the move, such as the client’s company, grade, or industry. We then check and collate the rates to provide the client with the best options for their move, taking into consideration cost, transit time, and method of shipping.
We manage the entire relocation process, including arranging packing, move-in and move-out permits, correspondence, insurance, customs clearance, delivery, and installation into the new home. This bespoke relocation management service is provided at no additional cost to the client or company.
Do you have some advice for beginners?
Stay patient and trust your journey. If you have an idea, just go for it. No one has ever died trying.
What do you believe is the most crucial part of continuing business seamlessly?
Have a comprehensive continuity plan in place and stick to it unless shit gets really bad, then have the ability and foresight to change it to meet the business needs.
As a small business, it’s tempting to roll with the punches and see how things work out. However, it’s crucial to have a backup plan that allows you to continue running your business in the event of an unexpected disruption, such as a natural disaster, pandemic, or cyber attack. Creating and operating a secure SaaS platform is one of the keys to our success. It allows us to store client data, files, documents, and personal information in one place for key personnel to access. However, things can and do go wrong, so knowing how to handle disruptions is essential.
Here are some steps to follow:
#1. Do a risk assessment – identify potential threats and your business’s vulnerabilities that could impact it, and assess their likelihood and impact.
#2. Evaluate the business impact – consider the potential consequences, such as financial loss, operational downtime, and reputational damage.
#3. Have a contingency plan – create strategies and procedures to respond to disruptions, such as backup systems, remote work capabilities, and emergency communication protocols that allow you to communicate quickly and effectively with your team.
#4. Test the continuity plan – ensure that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities and that the plan is effective by testing it regularly.
A continuity plan can help any business minimize the impact of a disruption and continue to operate seamlessly, even during the most challenging times.
We saw that you are active as a leader in multiple companies. What are your goals through your companies, and how do you plan to help individuals with them?
I have so many goals. I have a deep desire to create value for our stakeholders and make a positive impact on individuals and society as a whole.
My aim is to drive innovation and develop our products, services, and business model to create true value for our customers, which will set our company apart from our competitors.
Furthermore, my goal is to build upon our strong team, retain talented individuals, and provide professional growth and development opportunities for both current and future employees.
I aim to continue delivering strong financial results while positively impacting society and the environment through sustainable business practices. I am committed to supporting social causes and promoting diversity and inclusion in the Middle East and worldwide.
By leveraging our technology and innovation in the industry, we can drive efficiencies and create genuine value for the end user. If we can achieve this, then my work here will be done.
Describe yourself in one word.
Do employees’ energy and enthusiasm have a hand in business success? How do you plan to motivate your team to go the extra mile?
Absolutely, both employee motivation and engagement have a significant impact on any business’s success. Motivated and engaged employees are more likely to be creative, productive, and committed to the business’s success. This leads to higher customer satisfaction, better employee retention, and increased profitability.
We have explained our vision and purpose to our employees, highlighting how each employee’s work contributes to achieving our vision. This helps them understand the importance of their work and feel a sense of purpose.
Additionally, we provide numerous opportunities for our employees to learn new skills, take on new challenges, and advance their careers.
I believe our employees feel valued and invested in our business’s success. We recognize and celebrate their successes and do not rely on financial incentives to win business. However, we do provide nice bonuses when a client gives us positive feedback. This approach helps build a positive culture and reinforces the importance of hard work and dedication.
We strive to create a positive work environment that supports open communication, collaboration, and work-life balance. This approach helps our employees feel supported and motivated to do their best work. Additionally, treating others as you would like to be treated is a valuable life skill my Grandma taught me. She was a lady who just got on with it and always taught me to lead by example. I believe we can achieve success by modeling the attitude and behavior I want to see in my team, building complete trust and respect, and motivating our employees to follow my lead.
Furthermore, everyone is unique and has different needs and preferences. By treating others how we want to be treated, we can motivate our teams to go the extra mile and contribute to the business’s success.
How would you describe your leadership style?
It’s continually refined. It’s a blend of transformational, democratic, and laissez-faire. Each style is effective in its way, depending on the day of the week and the complexity of what we are dealing with. It’s about my level of trust in my team and effective communication between us.
Did you face any challenges during your career span? If so, how were you able to overcome them?
Loads. I could write a book. I just kept trying alternatives until I reached the point of success or realized it wouldn’t work. There’s no use being stubborn about it.
Are you adapting to digital transformation? How is it helping your business?
It’s what we do; it’s the cornerstone of innovating and leading in our industry. We recognize that we live in a digital world, and so we integrate digital technology and tools into every aspect of our business. This drives innovation, improves efficiency, and enhances the customer experience. Digital transformation is a critical process that many businesses must undergo to stay competitive and relevant in today’s rapidly-evolving market.
The benefits of digital transformation for businesses include improved communication, enhanced productivity, and greater agility in responding to changing market conditions. At our company, we have seen these benefits firsthand. We have expanded our customer and service provider base, improved the customer experience, and provided quick and accurate quotes and responses to our customer’s needs, including multiple international and domestic moving quotes, interactive maps, guides, and relocation information. Ultimately, digital transformation has improved our overall business performance. And that’s definitely a positive thing, isn’t it?
Do you use innovative ideas to be unique?
Relocate MENA & Relo-global.com – End of story
Where is your leadership going? What benefits do your clients get from your company in this competitive world?
As a relocation management company, our focus is on continuous innovation to provide exceptional service and value to clients in a competitive marketplace. We invest in new technologies and tools that enhance our capabilities and improve the relocation experience to achieve this. For example, we are exploring the use of AI and machine learning to streamline processes, improve communication, and provide personalized support.
One of our clients’ main benefits is our expertise in managing all aspects of the relocation process, from pre-move planning to settling into a new home or office. We work closely with clients to understand their unique needs and preferences, providing tailored solutions that meet their specific requirements.
Our team of relocation experts has extensive experience in managing complex moves and ensuring that everything runs smoothly and efficiently. We have a global network of partners and service providers that enables us to provide seamless relocation services to clients worldwide. In addition to our expertise and resources, we also pride ourselves on providing exceptional customer service and support. We understand that relocating can be a stressful and challenging experience, and we are committed to making the process as smooth and stress-free as possible for our clients.
My leadership for our businesses is focused on continuing to innovate and provide exceptional service and value to our corporate and individual clients in a competitive marketplace. By leveraging our technology, expertise, and commitment to customer service, we are very confident that we can continue to deliver outstanding results for our clients in the years to come.
Connect with Deborah Bellis Wyborn on LinkedIn.
Find Relocate MENA on LinkedIn.