By Donna Parker
“Living in Qatar is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and has opened my eyes to the world around me,” says Diane Blair, who received her bachelor’s in business administration in 1995 and her master’s in health care administration in 1998. She is the assistant executive director of human resources development for the Hamad Medical Corporation in Doha, Qatar with more than 15,000 employees from over 40 different countries. Diane left her job at PricewaterhouseCoopers in February, poised for adventure…and she found it.
“This is an enormous opportunity to contribute to a rapidly evolving health care system. I’ve fallen in love with the country and people, as they move toward nationalization of their work force and open new hospitals.”
“The people here are genuinely kind; the culture is hospitable and welcoming to people from the West. They are as curious about us as we are of them.”
Nonetheless, living in a foreign country and being female has its issues.
“I’ve come here to work, but life as an expat means you have to be self-sufficient and network. I haven’t felt “different” per say; I remain professional and don’t do anything to cause undue attention. I truly love the Qatari people and respect our differences. I seek out things we have in common, rather than dwelling on differences.”
One of those commonalities is joining the others who walk and run along the corniche in Doha. It parallels the beautiful Persian Gulf and is a perfect stress reliever for Diane, who hooks up her IPod and goes for a run each evening.
“The breeze blows in from the Gulf and it’s a great way to stay healthy and decompress.”
Diane is currently pursuing her doctorate in health administration through online courses.
“Trinity really gave me the foundation for a beautiful life. My years there were full, with true and loyal friends. I have really great memories of my grad school class going to lunch together. We hung out in the Chapman basement and computer lab and really became a family. But, I met my three best friends- ‘sadikas’ as we call them here- in the world during my undergrad years and we’ve been through marriages, divorces, deaths, and kids. I still talk to them daily and they’re coming here to Qatar to see me in October!”
“Mary Stefl, Bill McCaughrin, and Ted Sparling, all professors in the department of health care administration, are fantastic educators who helped evolve my thinking. They truly became part of my family and we still talk quite often. They took a personal interest and provided context for me to gain knowledge to start my career, which continues to direct me through life.”
“Right now, I live by myself in a nice villa inside a gated compound. Basically, it’s me and the six black bags with which I came over here. The night I initially stepped off the plane here to do contract work back in 2004 – the first time I visited – it was onto the hot desert of Doha and I wondered what I’d gotten myself into. After an adjustment period, I think this is really some place I want to be in order to make a difference. A few weeks ago one of my employees said, ‘Diane, you give me light.’ That comment right there made me realize I made the right decision in coming here and the opportunity to contribute is enormous.”