February 8, 2008

George Haines ’92 Enjoys Consulting Work in Bahrain

He serves chemicals and petroleum industry

Unlike most of his fellow alumni, George Haines ’92 pays less than $1 for a gallon of gas.

That’s because he lives in Bahrain, where he is an associate principal for CRA International.

“I’m a management consultant in the chemicals and petroleum industry and so I work with companies and governments to help them with their issue of the day,” says Haines, a mechanical engineering graduate. “Currently, I’m working for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to assist them in developing their downstream manufacturing capabilities in order to diversify their economy.”

While Haines enjoys the daily challenges that surface in his line of work, there are some aspects of the job that differ from a typical American work environment.

“The challenge of working in the Middle East is the cultural approach to work,” he explains. “In the U.S., we are very results-oriented and, in many ways, we think the ends justify the means. In the Middle East, they are very process focused; every step must be taken before any decision can be made. So even if we find a better, faster way that eliminates some steps, that is not what Middle Eastern clients are looking for.”

Bahrain is very modern, but still developing.

“Bahrain has all the amenities of the United States or Europe, but things are inefficient and it takes a long time to get things done, which can be frustrating,” he says. “The amount of construction here is amazing, but as an example of this contradiction, they will build beautiful, modern buildings but then there will be no paved roads to the building, or there isn’t any parking and you have to park in the desert.”

Aside from the standard cultural differences, Haines finds Bahrain to be a great place to live and raise a family.

“I like Bahrain because for a Muslim country, it’s quite liberal, so there are good restaurants, cinemas, and bars,” he says. “It’s also a great place for families. Arabs are very family focused so many things are tailored to children. In addition, activities here are relatively inexpensive. In the United States, the cost of children’s activities, such as swimming pool memberships and horseback riding lessons, would be expensive. I also like that gas is less than $1 a gallon.”

Haines says his time at Lafayette prepared him for dealing with different cultures.

“That experience included my fraternity, extra-curricular activities, different classes, and the like,” he says. “The ability to manage all of that is what prepared me to manage the different aspects of living in a foreign country.”

posted in Alumni

tagged with ,