CP Magazine’s Power Couples segment is back!
Yes, it’s that time of year again when we celebrate ambition and success, and congratulate those who have gone beyond the ordinary.
This year, we honour Michael Nielsen and April Habig, a couple fully deserved of the Power Couple title.
Not only are they the driving force in their respective careers, they’re also committed to a happy and healthy work-life balance, successfully juggling their demanding schedules to make time for each other, their daughter, Mia, and the other member of their family, Pumpkin the dog!
Michael and April understand the importance of communication, trust and respect, and the vital role they play in achieving success – both in a business and a family environment.
We’d like to congratulate Michael and April on being selected as CP Magazine’s Power Couple for 2018 and for being an inspiration to us all!
I’ve been in Kuwait since 1999 working in hospitality, both in sales and operational roles. Recently, I decided to pursue a different opportunity, making use of my previous work experiences. I am now working for Bateel International as the Country Manager.
I could be a national of Kuwait for the time that I’ve been living here! After studying and living in Europe, I decided to return to Kuwait in 1999 to work with my dad. He started his business, International Optique back in 1978. I am now the CEO of the company.
Please tell us about your academic backgrounds:
Michael – I started my career in banking but found it too monotonous. Later, I discovered a passion for hospitality and moved to Switzerland, where I did my further education and completed a diploma in Hospitality Management.
April – After secondary school at KES, I did an apprenticeship in Technical Optics at the College of Applied Sciences in Stuttgart. I continued to study optometry in London, where I also gained my early experience both in Dispensing Optics and in Clinical Optometry.
How and where did the two of you meet?
Michael/April – We met in Kuwait at a social gathering.
As a professional, what are the qualities you admire in your spouse?
Michael – April has a very strong character and knows how to stay focused at all times. Her dedication is infectious.
April – His commitment and his positive outlook. A tough day is a challenge he enjoys. Michael is also a people’s person. He empowers his team and is much respected by his clients and colleagues alike.
Where do you concur and where do you differ from each other?
Michael – Well, I am more easygoing and laid back compared to April. We are both organised in different ways. I am organised with immediate things, whereas she thinks ahead and takes pleasure arranging our holidays and other long term plans.
April – We are quite different in many ways but we complement each other. We have the same family values, which is very important. I am quite emotional in my decisions, while Michael always finds logic behind every decision he makes. I think we are both light-hearted people but Michael is calm and I can be impatient at times.
Do you think being friends with your spouse is an important part of marriage?
Michael – YES! April is my best friend.
April – Of course! Otherwise, it won’t work.
How do you handle a work-life balance and challenges in a dynamic work environment?
Michael – Over the years, this has become second nature. Being in the hospitality business, you learn to switch off and enjoy private time. April’s work is also customer-oriented, so we both enjoy each other’s company and a quiet night in together.
April – It’s not easy as we are both the driving force at work. It can be difficult at times, but we are pretty good at supporting each other when the other is under pressure. We always look on the bright side!
When do you spend time with each other? How do you unwind?
Michael – The weekend is family time. We start with an hour of ‘me time’ on Friday morning. I go for a run on the seaside and April does yoga on the balcony.
April – Since we have an active work week, we take it easy over the weekends. We enjoy a lengthy breakfast together as a family and take advantage of the activities Kuwait has to offer. We always look forward to our trips abroad too.
What is the best gift you received from each other?
Michael/April – Mia, our feisty but lovely daughter!
Any memorable holidays?
Michael – We have been to many wonderful places! We made great memories together around the world, it would be difficult to pick just one.
April – Our first holiday together as a couple was certainly very memorable! Last year we visited Iceland and fell in love with the diverse nature and scenery.
One would imagine that both of you probably discuss business issues a lot at home too. Does that happen?
Michael – We try not to discuss work at home but it’s inevitable. We’ll ask each other for advice and second opinions.
April – When we get home, we always ask how the other’s day was in general, but don’t let it take over the whole conversation. Since we spend so little time together, we do our best to unplug from our work life.
How are household responsibilities divided? Who is the boss at home?
Michael – Our daughter is slowly becoming the boss! I take Mia to school in the mornings and drive to her various after school activities. April does homework with her every afternoon and helps her in studying for exams.
April – Michael does all the technical work, like car maintenance, insurances, etc. I do more of the household planning.
Has there been any significant event that has changed your marriage?
What was the event? How did it change your relationship?
Michael/April – We enjoyed being a couple for many years before having a child. Becoming parents was very significant as we had to change our ways and put our main focus on our daughter. Parenthood is a big task and we both take equal responsibility in Mia’s upbringing. It certainly strengthened our relationship and trust towards each other.
How do you manage your time together? Do you have any time left over for your marriage at all?
Michael/April – The little time left from our working day is spent relaxing at home and entertaining our fourth family member, our pet dog, Pumpkin. We also set one evening aside during the week just for the two us, as ‘date night’!
What are the challenges of being two powerful people at the top of your professional game?
Michael – One of the most difficult things to do is to leave work behind when coming home and be 100% focused towards the family.
April – At work, I have to be up-to-date at all times, about all issues. It’s like being everywhere at once, juggling many tasks of different nature.
How do you motivate each other during tough times at work?
Michael – By staying positive and looking at the funny side of things – and then we start planning a nice holiday!
April – We are very optimistic people and always appreciate what we have. There are so many people who are not as lucky as we are – to have a wonderful family and friends, a good career and to live in a safe environment.
Who’s your inspiration professionally?
Michael – Danny Meyer (founder of Shake Shack). He reached his goals by nurturing his employees.
April – My dad, Rolf Habig. He taught me diligence and trust in people. I have always been inspired by his motivation and passion for his work.
What have you learnt from each other?
Michael – April stirred my desire to be more adventurous.
April – Michael has taught me not to take things too seriously and enjoy the moment.
Some marriages are ‘passionate’, some are ‘companionate’ – which fits you?
Michael/April – Our marriage is definitely both, since we are best friends and lovers too.
What are the keys to a successful relationship?
Michael – Respect, patience and romance.
April – To be flexible and understanding. Accept each other’s weakness and build up on each other’s strengths. It’s also important to communicate with one another, to be able to talk openly about your feelings.
Do you have any common interests or hobbies?
Michael/April – Reading, going to the movies, travelling and trying different culinary experiences.
Advice for other couples:
Michael – Trust and communication is a key factor in a relationship. Do not forget that you are a couple!
April – Always enjoy each other’s company, but also respect each other’s boundaries and personal space. An element of surprise is always good too! (Only positive ones of course!)
How do you feel to be selected as CP Magazine’s Power Couple?
Michael – It is an honour to be selected as CP Magazine’s Power Couple!
April – It was certainly a surprise and a fun experience!
Michael – Blue
April – Black and Purple
Michael – Steak and dates!
April – Japanese and Italian Cuisine
Tea or Coffee?
Michael – Tea on weekdays and coffee on weekends
April – All sorts of tea
Michael – Porche 9/11
April – In the past, a TVR. Now a GL500
Michael – Any book by Ken Follett
April – The Little Prince.
Michael – ‘Feel It Coming’ by The Weeknd
April – UB 40’s ‘I Got You Babe’. I love oldies!
Michael – Heat by Michael Mann starring Al Pacino & Robert De Niro
April – Pay It Forward
Michael – Snakes
April – Drowning
Favourite app on your phone:
Michael – My Running App
April – WhatsApp
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
Michael – Family
April – Family. And my eyelash curler!