Hanan El Basha Opens The East India Tea Company In Doha
The East India Company is renowned worldwide, stretching from Harrods all the way to the Middle East. Hanan El Basha is firmly in charge of the Company’s affairs in Doha, seamlessly combining her work with a happy family life. We pulled out our best bone china and settled down for a natter…
As a woman from Egypt, have you always been career-orientated?
I was raised by a working mother and surrounded by career-oriented women – and three sisters. Our parents embedded the notion into us that careers should be an important part of our lives. That, and education; I’m proud that all four of us have masters degrees that both benefit us as evolving humans and as career women.
How did you become MD of The East India Company in Qatar?
I work at Octagon International Qatar as Business Development Director, and our Chairman had already started talks of franchising the brand in Qatar during a family visit to London. When I read further of the East India Company and its history, I was thrilled to take the opportunity to handle that business. It started with the franchising agreement talks, then the store design, fit-out supervision, stock selection, staff employment – all the way down to dressing up the store. It has been an exciting – yet intense and exhausting – task. Fifteen months work in all, before we opened.
How do you manage to balance family and work life?
Well, family comes first – but I believe it all boils down to time management, tons of commitment, delegation, and many long hours. It also requires having support on all fronts. My husband and baby boy have been there with me all the way, even on weekends visits to the shop to check on the fit-out works or setting up the merchandise on the shelves. A task my son enjoyed, as he was taking part in ‘mummy’s work’! I also have that support from Nasser al Ansari, the Company Chairman and my friend, and my team at work.
What appealed to you about The East India Company?
It has an astounding heritage that goes all the way back to 1600, when it was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I. The East India Company pioneered new trade routes across the globe, trading in luxuries such as silk, tea and indigo, as well as exotic spices and foodstuffs – and it is this legacy of exploration and discovery that the Company strives for to this day. The products are based on the idea of ‘fusion of civilizations’ – we scour the best of manufacturers from all over the world to develop a range of foods that are exclusive and unique to the brand, and the product lines are deliberately made to the highest specifications, right down to the packaging.
You’ve got two minutes to do a trolley-dash through your shop. What do you load up on?
The tea selection alone makes me want to get off the fast track and immediately organise a tea party.
What are your plans for the future, both professionally and personally?
I want to grow the business further, in terms of store locations and the services on offer. After all, it’s not just about selling tea, coffee, and chocolate: it is about enriching experiences. Sanjiv Mehta, Chairman of The East India Company, told me that the company created history, and it’s our turn now. I believe in that for sure. On the personal side, I’m hoping to complete the requirements for my doctorate degree soon, and together with my husband raise a good boy.
There have been a million famous quotes about tea, from Winston Churchill to Boy George. What’s your favourite?
We like to say; ‘Tea is Water Bewitched’.
INFO: The East India Company, Lagoona Mall, 4016 5404, www.eicfinefoods.com