Please give a small bio of yourself.
My name is Shaileen Shah, a Taurean born into an Ismaili family. My maiden name was Shaileen Jiwa – you need to read further to know how Shah came about!
Born in Nairobi, my parents along with my younger brother, decided we had a better life to make so we left for Toronto, Canada in the 80s. Bred as a Torontonian with a Canadian accent, I asked my dad for a trip back to Nairobi in 1995 after graduating from high school enroute to Bristol, UK to do a psychology degree.
Two weeks into my holiday, met Sunit Shah, my husband now, at the age of 18 and thus came the evolution of Shaileen Shah when we married at an eight-person registry in Toronto in 1997. I am 43 now so you can do the math! I must praise him for his high level of tolerance.
I moved back to Toronto in 2000 as my father was ill, worked in finance at a Ford Dealership and in 2001, post his demise, marked the beginning of my hospitality career.
They say there’s never turning back after that – it sucks you in!
In 2011, I made a decision to move back to Nairobi seeing hospitality evolve and thought my talent and knowledge would benefit the industry – I hope it has!
In 2012, wound up a business, quit my job, packed our belongings and not to forget, our two amazing dogs, Ziggy and Junior. It was also the same year I lost my mum to colon cancer.
We added Romeo, our little Yorkie, 2 years ago and now he’s the only spoilt brat in the house – we put Ziggy and Junior to rest last year.
Here I am today, telling you about myself as the woman in a man’s world, GM of Trademark Hotel.
My Instagram handle is @iamshaileenshah
My parents called me the “boy” of the family – I realize why today. I was destined to do the man’s job eventually. Always the fighter and stronger than my brother – he believes that too, he skipped all of mum’s empty punishment threats and I retained the marks from them.
Mum was never afraid to leave me alone, to fight my battles at any point in life which definitely taught me to be focused and go after what I wanted.
I speak my mind and I never mind what I speak. I’m tough, yet empathetic. I can also be a good stand-up comedian, I believe.
I never hire for skill, I hire for attitude.
How do you think people perceive you?
I think those who know me professionally, perceive me as tough, fierce and no nonsense kind of person. Those who have the opportunity to become friends know that I’m loyal, caring and always there when needed. I’m also perceived to be very closed as I don’t make too many friends easily. I have a select set of people I trust as friends.
What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
It starts with what song I’m going to listen to over and over again if I’m heading to work and if I’m heading back – how fast can I get home.
Tell us something we don’t know.
I’m a trained Kathak dancer (Indian classical dance form); I do love to dance given the opportunity. I still love to listen to Backstreet Boys – I want it that way is my favourite!
How many friendships have you ruined because you refused to play a game of Monopoly mercifully?
Not ruined any! It’s been a while since I played the traditional Monopoly. When Deal came along, I may have ruined one friendship almost missing a flight so indulged in Deal!
How long does it take you to scroll through Instagram before you eventually give up?
30 sec – it’s got to be Insta right? If it doesn’t catch you right away, it’s gone!
What do you think cats dream about?
How to get close to me and give me the rash of my life! I’m allergic to them.
If you were a Disney/ mythological character, who would you choose to be?
Mulan – very much alike; aiming to challenge the world of men, and give it all she has.
You’ve got to give one up:
Why wouldn’t you give up the other?
There are no calories and I know my limits of indulgence.
What do you think is completely overrated in this world?
Weddings! Nothing against them but I find them to be a complete waste of money. I may say that because I didn’t have a lavish one but that doesn’t mean I’m less married after that. From the bride starving herself to procrastinating over a pimple and makeup – making sure it’s all perfect. I’d say avoid the stress, elope, be free, marry who you love – just the two of you! My thoughts.
What series are you watching currently and would you recommend it to others?
Queen of the South, would highly recommend it. I kind of fit the profile of the Queen.
If you have no financial restrictions at all, what would be the one thing you would buy for yourself?
A FAST, BLACK, car (not sure which one) – not that you can get it to go fast in Nairobi but hey, why not!
Do you ever compliment yourself? Do you acknowledge your success or the good job that you’re doing?
Yes always, my job entails challenging the norm, if I waited for others compliment I would wait for a very long time, might never even get it. I’m the bitch that gets things done – period.
Who applauds your success the most?
Every time I cook a meal, I ask my husband how it is and he always says “it’s ok”. I once asked him why he never says it’s good – his answer was “you will never try harder then”. He says it the least but I think critiquing it is applauding the effort – especially when he knows the effort that went into it.
Five worldly possessions you cannot live without.
I’d say I enjoy certain luxuries, good clothes, bags, etc. but if I had to live without them – so be it. I don’t think there’s anything you can’t live without except the necessities.
What’s your favourite holiday destination that you’ll go to again and again?
London – I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been there but I always feel happy going back.
What’s your honest opinion on family Whatsapp groups?
I think they’re great but with limitations.
There should be rules like one relevant post per person per day, an auto-reject option. Good Morning posts should be banned. Just Saying!
Lastly, you’ve been gifted an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with it?
Well, I’d start by getting acquainted with it – see if it likes little people with big personalities – you know. It would need to shadow me a few days to learn what I know and then maybe if someone doesn’t notice, have it do my job – I don’t think anyone would notice! I’d really like to learn how to retain water in my poop from it – don’t know if it’s possible. We’d blog an “elephantasy” and get popular!