An image of Maria Can - workplace experience manager.

Maria is an Architect with a decade of experience in Retail and Corporate Real Estate and currently serving as a Design & Workplace Experience Manager in the UAE. She specializes in design management, workplace experience, effectiveness, and strategic real estate solutions.

In her current role at RAKBANK, Maria plays a pivotal role in enhancing the overall customer and employee experiences by integrating facilities, services and design elements across all touchpoints creating a positive, memorable experience. She collaborates with stakeholders to implement workplace strategies aligned with organizational values and employee needs, ensuring smooth operations and fostering talent retention and attraction.

Previously, Maria led design and workplace experience at talabat UAE, managing projects aimed at fostering employee wellbeing, collaboration and productivity. Her diverse career also includes roles such as Workplace Effectiveness Manager at MACE – Standard Chartered Bank and Workplace Occupancy Planner at CBRE Global Workplace Solutions, where she honed her expertise inworkplace design, strategy, optimization and project management.

Maria Cao

Maria took Designing the Creative & Collaborative Workplace: Space, Technology, and Culture with us in April 2024, and we asked her a few questions about her experience after.

Why did you choose to sign up for this program?

As an architect turned Workplace Experience Manager in Dubai, I chose to enroll in this program to enhance my skills in designing creative and collaborative workplaces, aligning with my current role’s requirements. With the evolving trends in hybrid work environments, I’m keen on exploring innovative approaches to shape the future of work.

You have taken other programs at Harvard before, although this was your first program with our office. Reflecting on your experience, what stands out?

Although I have previously taken programs at Harvard, this experience stands out for its focus on Space Technology, & Culture, providing practical insights applicable to my role as a Workplace Experience Manager.  The program emphasis on understanding emerging workplace trends fostering employee engagement and workplace technology has been particularly insightful for my professional growth.

How do you describe your role as a Workplace Experience Manager to someone unfamiliar with this role?

As a Workplace Experience Manager, my role involves strategizing and implementing creative workplace solutions to optimize employee well-being, productivity, and collaboration within the organizational environment.  I build activity-based employee and customer journeys, as well as providing all operational support needed for each touch point. I create environments that foster a positive employee experience and drive organizational success.

What are the key characteristics of the workplace in financial and technology firms in Dubai? How do you believe that will change in the future?

In financial and technology firms in Dubai, key workplace characteristics include a blend of modern design, technology integration, collaborative spaces, and a focus on employee experience. Looking ahead, I believe we’ll see a shift towards hybrid work arrangements, enhanced digital connectivity,  and sustainable design practices to adapt to evolving workforce preferences and global trends. We have entered an era where employee experience and wellbeing is at the forefront of organizations priority.