Who: Gina Dillon
What: INFLUENCER | CONSULTANT
“I am an American living in the UAE for the past five years. I have a Masters in Critical and Creative Thinking and my passion is innovation, entrepreneurship and social enterprise. During my career I have worked in many startup organizations: radio, real estate, cellular, computers etc.
“I believe there is enormous potential for innovators in Abu Dhabi. I have recently patented a consumer product which is an idea that I have been playing with since 2008 and I am very excited to present it to investors. It too was seeded in the need to help the vulnerable, but as I continued to work the idea it evolved into a product that will be useful to a variety of consumers.
“Abu Dhabi has come a long way since I arrived five years ago but there are still so many more opportunities. I see the middle class playing a large role in the development of SMEs in Abu Dhabi. The rise of this “creative class” is truly the heart of any vibrant city. Across the globe you will see the creatives are definitely the visionary energy that attracts other creatives, which in turn attracts industry investments: because smart, creative people spark economic growth. I think these are exciting times for the UAE.”
USING SOCIAL MEDIA FOR GOOD
I asked myself what I could easily do without investing any resources to make life better for the Abu Dhabi community. I used my skills to create, develop the Facebook FreeCycle and UAE Housemaids group in the hope that they could provide some resources for those in need.
The initial seeds of development for the groups came to me when I was new to the city. The FreeCycle seed came when I read a Facebook post in a community page that said, “If I don’t sell this it is going in the trash!” Some people are FreeCycle supporters for environmental reasons and others for humanitarian reasons. Either way, FreeCycle is good for Abu Dhabi. The seed for the UAE Housemaids group came to me when I read a Facebook post by a housemaid who claimed to be mistreated and underpaid by her sponsor.
I decided I wanted to create a private space where both housemaids and sponsors could ask questions to learn more on the laws pertaining to domestic sponsorship. I realized if I was in the dark on the legalities of sponsorship then many others may be too. I also wanted to create a “cyber safe house” of sorts where a housemaid could reach out for help if she needed assistance. My main goal for the group was to provide a space where we could discuss fair and equitable treatment for housemaids and provide them with employment/sponsorship opportunities.
GINA ON CREATIVITY
“Creativity is the spark that generates all productive change, yet it is the most overlooked component of innovation. Any change or ideation begins with asking ourselves the question ‘how might I….’ which is the intro for generating new ideas to either create change or develop totally new concepts. Unfortunately, most people skip this essential step and great ideas become the victim of good, or worse, mediocre ideas, which take far less energy.
“Anyone can be a changemaker, or an innovator if they follow the basic principles of critical and creative process. When developing my social media groups I asked myself, ‘What is needed, what is sustainable, what is good for the community?’ By asking these questions I was able to toss around several theories on what would work before I began formulating the exact function and implementation of the groups.
GINA ON SOCIAL CHANGE
Change can happen in baby steps. As corny as it might sound, one has to ask themselves what kind of change do they want to see in the world and how much effort are they willing to invest to make it happen? When I first began my social media/social change journey in the UAE it started because I personally needed something. I needed:
- Purpose in my new life so I created solutions for those in need.
- To find new friends; people who had the same values as me so I used social media as a tool to
- A platform so I could continue to create and innovate so I used social media as my voice to spread a message of
In the end, I believe the most important thing is to be genuine in your efforts and to always use social media as a tool for good.