Inspiring Women in Hospitality
By Naureen Ahmed
Inspiring Women in HospitalityJun 03, 2023
#85 Nina Kleaveland: Incredible conviction is needed to execute a great idea.
On this episode we hear from Nina. She takes us on her career journey that started with event planning, before moving into hotels. In hotels she got into digital marketing where she worked closely with the sales team to support their goals. After completing business school, she joined Amex in Hong Kong and was exposed to so many different countries, cultures, and languages during her three years there. After Amex, she joined Wyndham where she stayed for a few more years before embarking on her own entrepreneurial journey. She shares how here time in business school and education in general has helped boost her confidence and build her network. For her business, she identified a real pain point and developed a solution to meet the needs in corporate housing on a different budget. She also started Female Founder in Hospitality to provide a supportive community to other female founders.
#84 Giada Gemignani: In hospitality you design related to the place
On this episode we hear from Giada. She wanted to be a nuclear engineer, but she found herself in interior design and in hospitality and never looked back. She loves the diversity of space you can design in hospitality, whether it’s the room, restaurant, bar or wellness area. Each project is new and you adapt to the space, location, property, client or strategy. Her challenge is to make the space liked by 99% of the people visiting. She began her career in Toronto, when she hardly spoke any English, but that did not stop her from being creative or being able to communicate. She then went onto London for several years, before moving back to her home country, Italy where she has now opened her own interior design studio in Milan. We also discussed how things change when you become a team lead for the first time, you become a mentor. She talks about the mentors who have helped her, both female and male along the way and how they have inspired her. One of her learnings is to be authentic and be true to who you are.
#83 Noelle Homsy : Anything you do in hospitality is to make people happy
On this episode we hear from Noelle. While she may have a masters in architecture and engineering, her true love was hospitality. To her hospitality is making people happy. She recognised that being in an environment where we are creating these happy experiences, was good for her mental health too. During her career she has used education every 3 to 4 years as an opportunity to learn, self reflect and progress at the same time. AFter her MBA she went after her desire to being in hospitality and after covid she took another chance on herself to becoming an entrepreneur. She started ENVI lodges with her co-founder Chris in Dubai. These eco-lodges are designed to connect people with nature, be part of the community and take care of the environment. She shares her views on negotiation and the outcome you want is that both parties win. The two learnings she shared is not to be afraid to learn and also be adaptable.
#82 Judith Cartwright : Learning the ability to focus on whats important
On this episode we hear from Judith. Early travel experience made her want to have a career that was international. She shares her journey across three different continents with a focus on revenue optimisation. We talked about the importance of mentors and how they have inspired her and helped guide her throughout her career. She has also played the role of mentor in her career and empowered the next generation of leaders within the industry. Two years ago she started her own business because she wanted more flexibility in her life and wanted to work for herself. She wanted to travel less and spend more time with her family, and her advise to women who want families is that there is never a right time. We also discussed flexibility at the workplace and how many women decide to start their own businesses, because they are not getting what they need at the corporate jobs.
#81 Sowon Kim: Passionate about education
On this episode we hear from Sowon. Instilled by her family and culture, she has always been passionate about education. After a few years in private sector, she did her phD which then led her to her academic career. The topic of her thesis was around career strategy and networking. Some of her findings were that men understand faster the importance of networking at the start of their career compared to women. The art of networking is building your social capital and being visible. It takes time and effort and we need to take a 360 degree approach to network with people at all levels within the industry. When it comes to family life, there is no magic formula and is very honest about the fact that she is still figuring it out. She started to the 'Women in Leadership' initiative at EHL to provide students more female role models to be inspired by and provide faculty with a safe space for open and honest conversations. She has had many learnings in her life and the one thing she will say is that she would not change a thing.
#80 Erika Bucsi: Desire to be in hospitality comes from the heart
On this episode we hear from Erika. She was determined to come into hospitality, driven by a desire to travel, no matter what obstacles the universe threw at her. Her early career years in London were most in events and sales and then she made a move towards hospitality technology and did not look back. She feels that still today there is a disconnect between hotels and technology companies and more needs to be done to bridge the gap. Two important learnings she shared with us. First be ready to speak up and ask for what you want. Just working hard and delivering good results will not get you noticed or get you that promotion you want. You have to express what you want from your career. Second is not to judge others by your own standards. Everyone has their own life experiences that makes them unique and bring their own perspectives with them.
#79 Domenica Biedermann : I never say no to an opportunity
On this episode we hear from Domenica. She shares her career journey that has taken her in hospitality, real estate, retail, commercial, concept and lifestyle brands and now her own coffee business. She says it herself she 'never says no to an opportunity' and that is part of her experience. She has faced challenges along the way, each time proving herself successfully and with finding the right ally, partnership, support and team. She shared what it is like to work across the different Swiss cultures that is influenced by the various languages. It is important to keep an open mind, ask questions and provide context. Some of her learnings from her career journey has been to learn to be more patient, stay calm, be consistent, trust yourself, learn to say no and also know when you need to say yes.
#78 Huilin Quek: What's it like to work in the family business
On this episode we hear from Huilin. She shares her experiences of working in a family business for the past 17 years, where she is now Group CEO. The business was started by her mother 35 years ago with very humble beginnings to becoming an internationally recognised brand, from whom Huilin draws a lot of inspiration. Her and her brother were handed the keys to the business just before COVID, which turned out to be blessing in disguise as they were able to push through a lot of changes faster than planned. Working for your family certainly has its ups and downs and she was very candid about her experiences. Some of her learnings has been around being kinder to yourself, asking for help, valuing truly genuine and honest relationships, and finally getting better at 'stop, think and then do'.
#77 Shell Righini : Look after your team and they will look after your bottom line
On this episode we hear from Shell. Her family, of Italian heritage has always been in hospitality, working for the royal families, and now she is the chosen one of her generation to carry on the tradition. She has worked at some incredible hosptialtiy businesses in the UK and shares with us her learnings. She shares with us what the industry can do to encourage more to come into the industry and stay, which is mostly around taking care of your employees and what managers can do to support their team. Losing team members is a high cost to any business, the constant change with changing team members takes an incredible amount of time and energy from everyone. When you take care of your team you take care of your industry. Through her career she felt she had to emulate a more masculine energy, its only later she learnt the benefits of being true to herself. We had an honest conversation about the impact of alcohol and drugs in our industry and her own challenges with addiction. She has recently started her own podcast to have more meaningful conversations around mental health in our industry.
Link to her podcast, 'We recover loudly': https://open.spotify.com/show/24OFDBpIuItcOScVuGUDqg?si=229a9201baf848e2
#76 Nathalie Cockayne: Hospitality is fantastic for personal growth and experience.
On this episode we hear from Nathalie. She has worked across five continents and shared that she found it easier to manage a multi-cultural team as its the differences that help gel people together. While many of us may work part of pre-opening teams, she worked at the Savoy as part of the closing team ahead of its multi-millions pound refurbishment. When I asked her how to inspire people to come into she reminded us how hospitality is a great career to develop your personal growth, travel and broad management and leadership skills. In terms of female leadership, one of the things that she has seen change is the view of softer feminine traits that are now desired in leaders. It is also important to identify and nurture the female talent in your company. One of her learnings that she shared was when something bad happens, ask yourself if you are going to remember this in five years or not. Don't sweat it.
# 75 Caroline Zwierz : I don't think we have just one professional life in our lives.
On this episode we hear from Caroline Zwierz. She shared her career journey that started in auditing and then took her to revenue management, both underpinned by her capabilities in numbers. She shared her experiences of managing a team in India and Hong Kong, at separate points of her career and her role of giving guidance, direction and offering a different perspective. Whilst she worked in many different parts of the world, in a mostly an english environment, albeit being French, she struggled to adjust to the French working culture when she returned home. We also discussed how to incorporate networking in your life and its not just for when you want something, but something to keep active throughout your career in an authentic manner. The one learning she shared was that anyone can have more than one professional life in their lives, its about asking yourself what makes you happy and going after that.
#74 Andrea Belfanti : Start showing our human skills in leadership
On this episode we hear from Andrea Belfanti. She took an intro to hospitality course in university and she was hooked. She went onto work in events in clubs, art museum and hotel companies before joining ISHC, where she is now CEO. We discussed how we were both attached to our jobs and associated it with our identity, while its still a learning journey she has learnt to incorporate more boundaries into her life. She talked about the mentors who have supported her along her career and how to look at networking to build genuine relationships. How diversity has evolved in hospitality both across the industry and at ISHC. One of the learnings she shared was how she views leadership from being having to know all the answers to being transparent. And most important, we all need to get better as women to celebrate the wins.
#73 Philippa Lucas : Find someone that you can learn from
On this episode we hear from Philippa. We bonded on our shared experiences of being a third culture kid, the highs and the lows. In some ways you do not belong anywhere, but then you are lucky to have many homes. Her first experiences in hospitality was when her parents bought a B&B in the english countryside and that became her home. She loved interacting with the guests and meeting new people. She went onto to study languages and her first job was in recruitment. But then she did find her way back into hospitality with a boutique consulting firm. Her advise was to find someone who you want to learn from and that is how she got her role. A common thread throughout her studies and career has been communication. Languages, communicating with clients and across different cultures. She shares how she has had to learn and adapt her communication style both personally and professionally.
# 72 Cristhian Osorio : "Everything you want to do, everything is possible"
On this episode we hear from Cristhian. She chose a career in hospitality because she likes to travel and being exposed to different cultures. Her career journey took her to ten different countries and she has made herself a career in operational excellence. She shared with us some early experiences on being on the executive committee and using data to support her insights, to come across confident. In her career in operational excellence you put the client in the centre to find areas of improvement. We also discussed that keeping your employees happy are the key to achieving your goals. Listening has been an important part of her role to ensure that she hears the point of view of all the departments , being that neutral person to bring the team together.
# 71 Bousserind Comson : International exposure, I cannot recommend it enough for kids.
On this episode we hear from Bousserind. Because of her father's job their family moved every few years and it was one of those roles that brought her to Switzerland, which she loved so much that she decided that she wanted to go back someday. The way she saw of going back was to study hospitality management. Whilst she did not manage to get back to Switzerland, she stuck with her choice of hospitality and studied in Paris. She took on a sales role in the Intercontinental in Paris, which she was apprehensive about, but with the support of a great mentor she was able to learn and settle well into the role and went onto having a career in sales. Her career then took her to Dubai for eight years and now she is back in her home country of Thailand. We discussed how its sometimes hard to make the decisions, especially when we are in our comfort zone, but when we get out of it is when the growth happens. It takes courage to make the decision, but there are good things on the other side.
# 70 Melissa Lou: You can train yourself to learn the skillset you need in the moment.
On this episode we hear from Melissa. Her love of event planning took her to a career in hospitality. After graduating from EHL she went to work from Quintessentially in Singapore. It was here she identified a gap in the market, to connect brides with vendors from the wedding industry via a market place. So together with her co-founder at the age of 25, she started her own business - Delegate. Upon reflection she believes she had more courage to try out her entrepreneurship journey vs when one is older with more responsibilities and higher opportunity costs. Which I likened to my fear of driving as an adult. She shares her journey into the tech space, her learnings and observation of gender balance in this space. Three learnings she shared: start fast, fail fast ; do not forget about your life outside your career ; having an optimistic view on life.
#69 Daphne Spencer : I hope I am as courageous as the women who inspire me.
On this episode we hear from Daphne. Being the eldest of four from an African family there was a lot of expectations from her, like going to medical school. Which she did not do, but she has successful career in hospitality which started with Disney and most of her working career in the US. She then moved back home to Ghana to start a new chapter in consulting, educating, training, advocating for tourism and hospitality. She also co founded AAWTH with a goal to up-skill 2500 African women by 2023 for leadership roles. She shares with us the various challenges she faced when she became a mother and combine it with work, which went away once she moved to a more female led executive team. She is inspired by those who have overcome challenges and she hopes to be as courageous.
#68 Patrizia Zueck: If you want something, you have to talk about it.
On this episode we hear from Patrizia. With one parent being in hospitality, she did not think this was the route she was going to take, but eventually it became inevitable. You can have a variety of careers with a hospitality education both within and outside of the industry, our quality of putting people first is highly valued. She shared how it was graduating in the midst of covid. Whilst it was challenging to find any kind of role, it also took the pressure off to find that perfect job, that is often placed on student upon graduation. We talked the importance of your values lining with the values of the company you aspire to work with and how interview cultures are changing with each generation. She got her current role in development, because she was vocal about her aspirations and one day her mentor shared with her a job opening in the area that she wanted to go into.
#67 Sophie Perret: Hospitality brings a very rich experience
On this episode we hear from Sophie. She grew up and started her career in Argentina before moving to Europe. After a few years in operations she did an MBA to change the direction of her career and that is when she started her professional life at HVS. First in the Madrid based office before moving to London where she has been for the past 16 years. We both agreed that we appreciated the diversity of hospitality in terms of the careers you can have and the people you get to work with, from all over the world. Over the years she has learnt resilience, perspective and to be kind to yourself. Having a supportive partner is also incredible to the success of your professional and personal life, its all about team work and not necessarily that the woman has to take on the bulk of the responsibilities at home. The real estate finance space is still male dominated, but she is starting to see the changes and hope more women will continue to be attracted to this space.
#66 Victoria Chan : We should not be afraid of speaking our minds.
On this episode we hear from Victoria. She had guidance early on her life to direct her towards a career in hospitality. She greatly values her experience to study abroad as it opened her world view and pushed her outside of her comfort zone. She was inspired to go into consulting as she wanted to work in hospitality real estate. Real estate being a very valued commodity to every Singaporean. She shared some stories of travelling as a woman to various locations, which also further enhanced her cultural view. One of her important learnings is not to be afraid to speak up and share your opinion, it matters and you bring value to the conversation. Yes, we both agreed, that being Asian sometimes finding this confidence is hard, but it is worth pushing yourself. She also shared the value of learning from not only your seniors, but your peers and those junior to you. There is something to be taken out from every interaction.
#65 Jane Lees : I am a great believer of expressing your thoughts
On this episode we hear from Jane. The root of her career is in real estate and valuation. At that start of her career she spent some time in Hong Kong, where she grew up, before coming back to the UK, where she spent the remainder of her profession. She has worked across different sectors in real estate, but its the operational business such as healthcare and eventually hospitality that she stuck too. She reflect on her time from when she first joined the working world and some of the changes, such as more diversity in entry, more conversations on gender, opportunities for feedback and appraisals. She has had to ask for promotions, which taught her to speak up and ask for what she wants. Not always easy to learn, but takes constant practise to build. We discussed flexibility and how it can play a positive role for both employer and employees such as the four day work week. Working together to identify what works, its more valuable to keep an existing employee than try to find a new resource.
# 64 Shinn Teo: Hospitality is magical
On this episode we hear from Shinn. Her love of hospitality comes from her years of travel with family, where there were moments of magical experiences in hotels. Her first work experience was at the Four Seasons Seychelles, where she learnt the difference between island life and city life. One more fast paced and the other slower. She pushed herself out of her comfort zone by taking her higher education in Switzerland, her first time in Europe ever and learning to adapt accordingly. After graduating her path lead her towards learning and development within hospitality. We discussed the concept of service culture and whether that can be taught or something you have innately within you. Shinn relies on reflection throughout her life, to help her navigate various situations or coming up with ideas, etc. She promotes life long learning to everyone and advocates for us all to invest in ourselves. One of the areas that she has worked on over the past year is her assertiveness.
Please note since this recording in November 2022, Shinn has left EHL Singapore team.
#63 Gosia Czwarno : Everyone's definition of success is different.
On this episode we hear from Gosia. She started her career in banking, but then quickly realised that she is more of a customer centric service orientated person and would prefer to be in hospitality. This took her from your five star hotels, to coworking and now coliving. She has worked in organisations with an established structure in place, high growth company and also start ups. She shares her different experiences with each organisation and also her personal preference. She has moved country several times, and when you go somewhere where it's completely new, be prepared that it might take you at least two years to really settle in. We also talked about choice and how choice has changed over the generations. We are currently in a generation where we have a lot more choice than our mothers and grandmothers, depending on where you live of course. It can be overwhelming, so we must be mindful of whom we go to for advise and what decisions we make. And own any decisions we make.
#62 Sara Rahmeh: It's a love story
On this episode we hear from Sara. She came into hospitality because of love, whilst the romance fizzled out, her relationship with hospitality stayed. She has worked in sales in the middle east and now in Denmark with CitizenM. We talked about the culture differences of working in the middle east vs Denmark, what had to be learnt and unlearnt each time she moved. ME is very fast paced, whereas in Denmark is more relaxed. Working long hours is not seen as a badge of honour and there is a greater respect for your personal life. We shared how we have both worn 'fake' wedding rings in different circumstances. How women make great leaders and we should celebrate that empathy makes us powerful. When it comes to confidence she emulates the abundance of confidence her male colleagues demonstrate and the way they promote themselves. Women need to get better at advocating for themselves. Outside of her work life she does theatre and she gets to bring that in with her into her work life too. Being authentic is key to being one with ourselves.
#61 Sumi Soorian: We can do anything if we put our minds to it.
On this episode we hear from Sumi. Her skill sets are in marketing and business management, which are highly transferable and she has taken it with her to every industry she has worked in. Such as publishing, telecommunication, international education and now tourism and hospitality. Needless to say she has a favourite and said she has met the best people in tourism and hospitality, and had the most fun. She took time off when she had kids, and when she came back to the workforce she returned part time, which gave her that cushioned return. Another key to her success was having a supportive and understanding boss, who understood her needs and gave her the flexibility, provided she met her KPIs. Having this flexibility meant that she was determined to do well and be successful in her career. We discussed how events have evolved, both during and after covid and how our public speaking journey was like. She believes that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything.
#60 Virginie Rouault: You are not alone, leverage your network.
On this episode we hear from Virginie. Throughout this conversation she shared her learnings from each stage of her career and there is a lot we can be inspired from this conversation. A chance prize win for a holiday at club med, introduced her to the world of hospitality and she never looked back. Throughout her education she worked part time, like an apprenticeship, which meant she had a good amount of work experience to get her first jobs. The relationships you build this way are different to those on internship. Learning and getting support from your peers was the key to her success in one of her sales roles. She joined CitizenM just when they entered into France, she was the first person to apply for the sales role when it opened up and she instrumental to the success of the launch in France, which is not an easy market to enter into as a new brand. She learnt that once you become a manager and start leading a team, your role becomes more internal focused than externally. She also learnt to build her confidence, which came with time and maturity, learning to say no, which protects your priorities and the service you give.
#59 Leah Murphy: Make the world a better place
On this episode we hear from Leah. She is one person who has truly done every role possible in hospitality. Like me she thought she would have a career for life in F&B, like me also discovered revenue management and never went back. After her masters she got into consulting and was with HVS for 14 years. Now she has started her own business as hotel owner. We talked about the lack of female owners in hospitality. There are some family business with Asian American female owners, however outside of this its very sparse. In all her years as a consultant she interacted with maybe one female owner. This needs to change and Leah wants to be that change maker. One of the key learnings she shared was the power of relationships and networking and she wished someone had told her about this at the start of her career. No matter how much it may make you cringe sometimes, it is extremely valuable when you can create those meaningful connections. She also said don't be so hard on your self :'You can only do your best, and your best is different everyday".
#58 Valerie Hoffenberg : Be like 'un bouchon de vin'
On this episode we hear from Valerie. She defines herself as an entrepreneur. She started her first business in import export, after selling it, she went into politics. She left politics to start her own business, start up and think tanks at the age of 59. Never let age be a barrier to what you are capable of. She was inspired to be an entrepreneur because if she saw something was wrong, she knew she had to be the one to fix it rather than wait for someone else to do it. She is the founder of the 'She Travel Club' which is a label that certifies hotels that tailor to the needs of the female traveller. The criteria set by the label are based on regular survey from their 5000 strong member base and as women make up 64% of the global travellers, it's time to take notice and make changes. The hospitality industry has been very receptive to this initiative and are grateful for the information. Valerie noticed, as a newcomer to the hospitality industry that we are still lacking several women in c-suite positions and other industries are starting to catch up. All the research shows that when you have diversity of thought at your senior team, the business is more successful.
I love their brand statement: "We make hospitality better for women."
# 57 Sima Patel: I married into hospitality
On this episode we hear from Sima. She married into hospitality and never looked back. The most heart warming theme throughout this episode is the support she had from her husband and his family, especially her father-in-law, to have a career, grow, learn, develop herself and most importantly believe in herself. They were the ones who encouraged her to take the board positions, when she first said no. Once her and her husband starting building hotels, she became the driving force to construct and operate more hotels. She would take care of the operations and her husband the development. Now with their son on board, her role has shifted to being more advisory and strategic capacity and that has allowed her to spend time giving back to the hospitality industry that gave her a career. She serves on boards, she is the role model for Indian women businesses leaders across America and still taking an active role in the family business. Her lessons are say 'yes' and speak up.
#56 Ike Tresnawaty - Loves to grow and a challenge
On this episode we hear from Ike. Like myself, it was her Dad who encouraged her to follow a hospitality career. She chose to go down the F&B path and that eventually got her a role as project manager for 15 F&B outlets for the hotel that she was working for. At the time she knew nothing about F&B concepts and she was really thrown into the deep end. She was open and honest about her experiences, she took one day at a time, she asked the silly questions, cause she would rather look like an idiot for a day, rather than a lifetime and with strong work ethics she was successful. She eventually took on a bigger project of an entire hotel construction. One of her disciplines was when she was working, she was working and didn't mess around, however when she was 'off the clock' she was not contactable. Whilst her colleagues may have been frustrated with her at times, she took her personal time very seriously. She recognised that she needed the rest to perform at her best. During covid she pivoted and now set up her own business in 3D printing to enable local manufactures in Indonesia, where she is from, meet their supply chain requirements more efficiently.
#55 Arlett Hoff: Adds so much flavour
On this episode we hear from Arlett. It was an elective that she took in university in Germany that brought her into hospitality and tourism. After a few work experiences she realised she did not want to be a GM, but did find herself in London and was exposed to another side of the industry in development and investment. Which is where she started her 16 year career with HVS. This role took her to many countries around the world, where you need to visit the sties of the projects you are working on. During her time here she learnt a lot of the technical side of the business, personally she learnt that she cannot control everything, there is no right answer and to learn to ease up as you mature in your career. She has now moved to Switzerland with her family, to start the next chapter of her career.
#54 MariaPia Intini - I am a curious person
On this episode we hear from MariaPia. From a small town in Italy, it was her early age of summer camps in England that gave her a taste for travel and how she choose tourism and hospitality as her career. She started her career in an architectural firm in London where she discovered her passion lies in hotels specifically. Through her networking she wanted to be a developer for hotels and then realised that it was the investment side that she was most interested in. Went to do a masters in Cornell, which then brought her back to London with roles in Colliers and DTZ to do advisory, feasibility and valuations. She then had an opportunity with CitizenM in investment, which she could not pass on, even though she had just signed the paperwork for her own flat in London. The lesson here is that be prepared for life throwing you curveballs and have faith that you know how to adapt. MariaPia being curious in nature is a master networker and we discussed the importance of it. Her family have always played an important supportive role in her life.
#53 Ishwariya Rajamohan : People's connection with food
On this episode we hear from Ishwariya. She is the founder of 'Love letters to chefs' a platform to educate and to create social change in hospitality. She started her career as an architect, then her love of baking drew her to a second career as a pastry chef in London and now she is working on education and changing our mindsets of work life balance in the industry. She is also working as a coach with female leaders, as she believes women just need that extra help to become the leaders they are meant to be. We also discussed how appearance and dressing up as an impact on our working life. As long as humans have the need to impress people, it will take a while before we can change the guests expectations in hospitality with the high levels of services that is demanded.
# 52 Maria Navarro: Listen to the voice in your head
On this episode we hear from Maria Navarro. Born and raised in Mexico, she decided to go to Montreal at 18 to study french, when she didn't know what she wanted to do next. It was during her time there she discovered she wanted to be in hospitality and went back home to start her programme at a local hotel school. From a young age, she always knew she was meant for more than just studies and exams and grades was not the answer to everything. She has a great level of self-awareness and listens to the voice inside of her, that tells her she is capable of so much. When she wanted to go to the luxury hotel in Rhode Island for her internship, everyone told her to have a plan b, but she resisted and got in. She is the eldest of five children and had to figures out a lot on her own, each time she left home for a new country. In the midst of the pandemic, she found a role back in the US, despite all the challenges and went onto have further experiences in F&B. The voice in her head kept telling her that she is great at writing, has amazing ideas and time to do something about it. So she started her own copywriting business and sharing articles that speak to us all in hospitality.
#51 Rowena Humby : "80% of our decision making is emotional"
On this episode we hear from Rowena. Shared love of data and understanding the reason why people make decisions inspired me to join me on the podcast. The choices people make are abundant with emotional experiences. She studied astrophysics in university and its her passion for people and psychology that helped co-found her business Starcount. We discussed the important of using data at scale to understand the customer and make strategic business decisions from them. One of the greatest skills you can have in the world of data is to be able to communicate and tell the story behind the data, a skill she learnt that she had. Hospitality business is a people business and a lot of emotions are involved when making decisions. Through Starcount hospitality businesses can understand the reasons why people choose to spend time with them, time being a precious commodity.
# 50 Emily Goldfischer : A total news junkie
On this episode we hear from Emily from Herterlier. She quickly changed her biology degree to hospitality after she started at Cornell. She then found her way into the PR side of things in hospitality, where her self proclaimed news junkie came into good use. She would watch the consumer trends and come up with ideas for hotel campaigns such as the pet programe, metrosexual program etc. Originially from New York, she shared that she moved to London with her family and we went off on a bit of a tangent of our shared love of London. We discussed her inspiration to start Herterlier, with a common purpose of wanting to amplifly the female voice. Trends she was noticing was women taken on bigger roles in the industry, more female GMs, invisible workload, a diverse workforce means a more profitable business, etc all playing towards the message of gender balance.
#49: Jinal Patel - Hotels are living real estate
On this episode we hear from Jinal. She started her career in commercial real estate and a chance project on a hotel brought her into hospitality. She then put her learning skills to good used and soaked up as much knowledge as she could about hotel operations. She calls hotels 'living real estate'. She considers herself a conversationalist, which has helped in her career journey and also to surround herself with good people. Often, still today, she is the only women or one of two women at the table or on the team, she hopes that will continue to change, but when she was starting out it was hard. Which is why finding those good people was so important - build up your support network. She would like to see more balance and opportunities for women, there is change happening but more needs to be done.
#48 Nosipho Dinwa: Human factor
On this episode we hear from Nosipho. For her it was fate that brought her to hospitality. She got her start in her career at Disney where she learnt the magic of customer service Upon returning to South Africa, she became assistant GM at a local hotel, but her path was set on going into learning development. It was her earlier experiences that prepared her for this career and a way for her to give back to the industry. We discussed how hospitality is an industry where you can have a career through your work experience or by going into hospitality education. She is there to develop anyone at any stage of their career. Working closely with teams, heads of departments and individuals to identify future talent and put together development plans. What hospitality has taught her is that she can handle any high pressure situation and survive it. Last year she was nominated for the Pyne Rising Star Award and its great to see this recognition for her.
#47 Cristina Graniero: Superwoman does not exist
On this episode we hear from Cristina. She was attracted to languages from a young age and she thought the best place she could put her language skills to good use was in hospitality. Which took her to Boston, London and back in Florence, where she has now been for the past 15 years.We discussed what the Italian job market is like and the impact of its history and politics. She was very open about her own professional and presonal experiences. As a woman, mother, daughter she recognises that there is no such thing as superwoman and that we are all different and at some point in our lives we need to become the adult. Professionally she has learnt to ask for help, work on her confidence and have faith in her experience. She wants to be a mentor someday and hearing her story I know she will inspire many others.
#46 Lucie Chmelikova: I cannot stay still
On this episode we hear from Lucie. She knew from the age of 15 that she wanted to be in hospitality and tourism. An Erasmus in Barcelona meant that she never wanted to return to the Czech Republic and has been on the move ever since across three continents. Lucie knows herself well and describes herself as someone who never likes to stay still. With the help of a very supportive partner, she has been able to change jobs and move countries every few years when she knew it was time for her next challenge. She is very creative, likes asking questions, coming up with new ideas and solutions. She also shared with us her journey and learnings to becoming a leader, being a team players and letting your team shine.
#45 Ambika Gandhi : I eat breath sleep hospitality
On this episode we hear from Ambika. She wanted to be a chef, but then realised she did not want to work those hours in the kitchen and transitioned into a career in broader hospitality through education, which was always important in her family. After a few years in operations, she then went into development and then consulting. She is now running her own business in Canada as hotel real estate consultant. She helps her clients to look at hotels as a real estate business, not only from an investment perspective but also operationally. Every holiday for her is like a site visit, where she drags her husband with her to check out the construction. She has had some great male mentors who taught her differnet aspects of the job along the way from hotels, real estate and finance. We discussed how there is still a lack of women in the real estate sector, which is especially visible when she goes to conferences and there is ver low representation from women in the sector.
#44 April Jackson: Rum makes everything better
On this episode we hear from April. She opened her first restaurant after being a participant on the show The Apprentice, with zero restaurant experience. But it was her time on the show and media that ensured thta her restaurant was full when she opened. Prior to having her own restaurant she ran events in Jamaica. Covid gave her and her partner the time to rethink their concept, so they rebranded and opened as Wood and Water, modern english cuisine with Jamaican soul. April is using her voice and her position to elevate the perception of Jamaican food, cause its not all just jerk chicken. Some of the things she has learned is that she doesn't have to be a perfectionist, 70% will do just fine too and just giving yourself some downtime does not mean you are not being productive.
#43 Viviana Wilkins: I am a learner
On this episode we hear from Viviana. She started her education as bio-chemist, but realised that she did not want a career in it as much as she loved science. She found hospitality at a career fair and she found her place. After taking a year out to go backpacking across Europe, she came back to the US to work on front desk and then had several roles in HR. She went on to do a masters degree, because she was looking for a career change and after what she thought was her dream job with Four Seasons covid hit. During her masters she also participated in SheHasADeal competition, that exposed her to Tracy and eventually a role with that organisation. She has ambition of owning her own hotel someday and inspiring other women to do the same. Throughout her life she has had her support systems in place, that she took time to build, but have proved invaluable throughout her life.
#42 Regitse Cecillie Rosenvinge-Thurmer : I allowed myself to fail
On this episode we hear from Regitse. To her hospitality is like being part of a big family in a universal versatile industry. After working in operations for a couple of years, she went down the route of creating her own life and become self-employed. She is now a consultant in marketing, communications and PR as she wanted to tap into her creative side and apply it to the industry. This path was fraught with ups and down, learnings and allowing herself to fail. However she never gave up, she was fighter, ambitious and after having her son it gave her greater clarity and direction. One of her life lessons is importance of networking and that we must invest in it all throughout our career.
#41 Bharti Radix: I am a determined person
On this episode we hear from Bharti. She started her career as an accountant. She had her first experience with hospitality when she joined the finance team with Jamie Oliver and she never looked back. Any future opportunities that were presented to her had to always be in hospitality. She worked in several companies and made it to CFO level. During COVID she took the opportunity to realise her dream of having her own business in hospitality and in September 2020 she opened her first Bloomsyard cafe and by 2022 she had three sights. It was through her networking in her career that she got to know suppliers and landlords, who were prepared to give her the opportunity to realise her vision. She trained to be a barista herself and sends all her team members on trainings as well. She has found the flexibility in life through running her own business, which she did not have when working a corporate role and found that she had mores time in fact. And we both agreed, that making mistakes is part of the journey and that we learn from them.
#40 Fatima Tarkleman : Food is a constant source of comfort and care
On this episode we hear from Fatima. A queer mixed race migrant chef and sustainability & diversity champion. Before she became a chef, we was an occupational therapist with the NHS and it was her love of cooking that she later turned into a career. Before she made it a career, cooking has always been a big part of life, from helping her with her depression to working with her patients in the kitchen during her time at the NHS. She is also a champion of fermentation and zero waste in our personal and professional lives. She has produced two cookbooks one called 'Kitchen Cultures' and the other 'Kinspiration' where she explores how different cultures, stories, people influence our food and with a focus on waste minimisation. She shares a lot of personal experiences that gives us a real insight into her life.
#39 Rachel Humphrey: Amplifying the messages
On this episode we hear from Rachel. A lawyer by profession, she started her career as a trial lawyer, but then entered the hospitality industry by representing franchise owners and helping negotiate contracts. She began her second career as association executive with AAHOA. The opportunity came at a time where they needed exactly the skills sets that she had to offer and she also took on several c-suite roles during her tenure. It was during this time that she realised that female representation at the c-suite level was very sparse. After her retirement she formed the Women in Hospitality Leadership Alliance to bring together various organisations that are doing great work in increase gender diversity at all levels and amplify our messages. We also discussed how women need to get better at advocating for themselves and not being afraid to acknowledge their leadership roles.
#38 Lindsay Madden-Nadeau : Reaching that level of service
On this episode we hear from Lindsay. She started travelling from the age of 21 with a career in hospitality and warmer weather. It was in the Caribbean where her career in spa started, which we now more commonly refer to wellbeing. She moved to the middle east, where she spent several years building her career in spa and wellbeing with various corporate brands. Then in 2020 she moved to the South of France, a place that has always been special for her, to start her own wellbeing consultancy - Meraki, working on concept development. We discussed how the younger generations are changing the way we think, live and work. Why can't we have several homes and why do we have to work 9 to 5. Importance of listening to yourself, often you will find the answers within. Throughout her career she has worked with coaches to help her navigate through various stages of her life, asking her the question to help her find the answers within. Once she was clear on her values, everything fell into place
#37 Tea Ros: Letting her inner nerd out
On this episode we hear from Tea. She got into hospitality because she wanted to work with people. Early on she knew she did not want to become a GM and after a few years of working in operations, she found her way into consulting. Tapping into her inner nerd, she loves working with numbers, spreadsheets and being analytical. A car accident in Dubai propelled her into a career in hospitality, then she moved to Singapore and then back to Switzerland to open her own consultancy. She opened her own consultancy out of necessity, because she wanted a life where she could have the flexibility to move around the world with her partner who works for F1 and still do the work she loves in hospitality. Some of her biggest learnings in life, is that everyday you are learning, trust the process and putting things into bigger perspective.
#36 Claire Camplisson: Feel the fear and do it anyways
On this episode we hear from Claire. Her journey to finding hospitality was by process of elimination. By trying everything - working construction, on a boat, english teacher, pubs, etc. She then did her MBA in hospitality and went into asset management and investment. It was her attitude and not her lack of 'traditional' hotel experience that helped land her first role after graduation. We talked about her time in Vietnam as an english teacher taught her to 'feel the fear and do it anyways' a quote that she still gains experience today. We both shared our experiences of how this fear grips us and the gremlin often tells us to shut up. But it is working through this fear, where the good stuff lies at the other end. It is about creating new neural pathways until it becomes natural. Technical skills vs Interpersonal skills - which do you need to grow your career? What qualities do leaders have? For Claire, everyone inspires her in different ways.
#35 Heidi Gempel: Female leaders reclaiming their femininity
On this episode we hear from Heidi. When she realised she could work and travel with a hospitality career, there was no turning back for her. She started with an apprenticeship program in Germany, that gave her hands on experience of the industry and one of her first roles took her to England to help improve her english. A short stint in Dubai that was a life learning moment for her, before moving to the Far East where she started her revenue management career, when this side of the industry was still in its infancy. She was able to be part of the foundational team of revenue management during her career. She then started her own revenue management consultancy in Singapore. Her husband joining her business and they expanded their offering into design thinking and innovation work. During covid she expanded her offering to coaching with executives and especially with female leaders. One aspect I admired in part of her coaching work, she is helping women leaders not lose their femininity.
#34 Eljesa Saciri: I breathe fire
On this episode we hear from Eljesa. She came into hospitality, like many others, by chance, taking up work during uni. Unlike others, she dropped out of uni to pursue a full time career in hospitality. She has done every possible role, starting from bar back to now General Manager at the Zetter Town House in Marylebone. Some early negative experiences with mentors, shaped her own leadership style. She demands and commands her space, and is not apologising for her, for her voice deserves to be heard. She believes in investing in your teams development, in fact she encourages them to go after her job. Each one of us has a different perspective to share, and its diversity where change will happen. She challenges women to not see each other as competition, but rather supporting one another to bring each other up, together. Learn who you are, own it and bring your whole self everyday.
# 33 Elsa de Jager: 51 percent rule - Danny Myers
On this episode we hear from Elsa. While she was studying politics at university she worked as a steak house to pay the bills. It was during this experience she got into hospitality and never looked back. She believes that everyone should work in hospitality at least once in their life for the lessons it teaches you in resilience and empathy. She had some great mentors at the very start of her career, that helped shape her and taught her lessons that she took with her to every role she did. Lessons such as - ability to reac people, empathy, being prepraed, show up, work ethics etc. We talked about Danny Myers 51 vs 49 rule : you need 51% of the attitude and 49% of the skills. Skills can be taught, but not the attitude. With her focus on people in her professional career, she now has a role in People and Culture. Culture is the foundation you build your business on and a strong brand will attract and retain good people.
#32 Lue Kraltchev : Art of hospitality
On this episode we hear from Lue. We start the conversation by talking about the 'art of hospitality' which remains a theme throughout the recording. She has a near 20 year experience at TGIFridays where she worked her way up and through various roles to head of people and culture, which is where she honed her skills in culture in organisations and leadership training. She always had a keen interest in languages (she speaks 8 languages) which helped her get a role in the international side of the business and got her travelling and living in several countries around the world. During the pandemic she started her own consultancy that helps businesses with culture, wtih hospitaltiy being the core theme that runs throughout her work. In her words "Culture is the glue that holds humanity together, hospitality is the ultimate example of it". Let's all help her in securing the anthem for hospitality ' Maybe there is a place that feels good' - who knows Harry Styles?
#31 Michele Kline: Creating your own opportunity doors to knock on
On this episode we hear from Michele. Originally from Buenos Aires when she moved to the US, she found herself in hospitality. She was the most enthusiastic barista who make your first cup of coffee in the morning. She has this saying of 'creating opportunity doors' to knock on and going for it. Which is how she progressed in her career to become VP of operations with 2000 people to look after. She then embarked on her entrepreneurial journey to follow her values to help businesses with leadership and organisational behaviour. For her team to work together they needed not to work in silos, communicate and treat each other as humans. Whilst she had no female mentors to guide her, she wants to be the female mentor for any woman coming through her career now and reminded us that we have to not be afraid to seek out those mentors we want. Finally, don't forget that we are all inspiring.
#30 Khristina Quigley: Scientist to hotelier
On this episode we hear from Khristina. She has a masters in mathematics and toxicology and was meant to do a phd in Sweden. To pay for her education she started working in hotels, and that completely changed her career path. She went onto becoming one of the youngest GM's in Ireland. She shared that in Ireland, she was surrounded by great female leaders and role models, whom she learnt a lot from. She has also had several male mentors, who have taught her how to express herself differently. Her true love lies in hospitality teach, where she is now, and she brings with her all her experience and relationship. She loves that she can still work with her friends on a daily basis. One point we both agree on is that the pandemic helped us foster better connections and build meaningful relationships. On the topic of why women struggle in the workplace, she shares some of her own struggles and believes that we collectively need to support all women along our careers.
#29 Linda Bekoe : Problem Solver
On this episode we hear from Linda. Travelling with her Dad from a young age exposed her to the hospitality world. The crazy shifts of her early career didnt scare her away but she had the vision to be working in sales and be the lady travelling with the suitcase and the high heels. Which she did go on to achieve and now she has her own representation company, assisting hotel companies with their sales. She is thankful to have have mentors and the proper training when she first started out, however she does regret not making the most of her travels. We are always so busy moving from one appointment to the next, that we often fail to take a moment to stop and appreciate where we are and get to know where we are. Hoping pandemic has helped change this mindset for many.
#28 Idoia Herrero : Ms Kindness
On this episode we hear from Idoia. She represents that next generation that inspires me. At a young age she decided she wanted to go into hospitality and made a deal with her parents to get good grades in high school to get into the university of her choice in Barcelona. During her internships, she had some great female role models that inspired her to champion the cause of gender and diversity. From a young age she was always involved in social justice causes and that has stayed with her ever since. She understands the value of empathy, kindness and being yourself as good leadership qualities to have. Taking care of your mental health being equally important too and to make the time to reflect for personal growth. She is working in hospitality tech and working with organisations that are focusing on tech as an opportunity to augment the guest experience.
#27 Harsha L'Aqua: The Queen
On this episode we hear from Harsha. She is Founder and CEO of Saira Hospitality. A non-profit hospitality organisation where they partner with hotels and launch pop-up hotel schools with undiscovered talent and offer employment in the hospitality industry. After an early career in operations, during her masters she pitched and won a business plan for Saira Hospitality, which was inspired by the philanthropic upbringing she had. We also talked about how travel and culture has influenced both of our lives, especially when it comes to being women and our confidence. She explains how she came up with the name 'Saira Hospitality' and the beautiful meaning behind it and not giving up on her vision to realise her business plan.
#26 Milica Simon: Change is the only constant
On this episode we hear from Milica, whom I know as Mili for nearly 20 years when we first started university in Switzerland. Her first exposure to hospitality was during an exchange program to the US when she was 14 and the host family also ran an inn, where all the children would help out in. After graduating she wanted to learn her fifth language, Russian, which took her to Moscow where she then stayed for several years working with JLL She shares her experiences of the Russian culture and the people she met. Eventually, she felt the pull for home and moved back to Vienna where she lives today with her family. She started her second career in finance with several hotel companies both large and small. Like me, she likes the numbers and the stories they tell. Most importantly she values the connections she has with her team, inspiring female role models who have supported her career and a supportive partner that has given her the confidence when she needed it.
#25 Alison Wong : Accountant that will explain the numbers
On this episode we hear from Alison. She has a career in finance working on hospitality businesses. But she studied politics at university, which actually did come to good use for reporting writing and communication skills. It was during her time at Deloitte on their graduate trainee program where she learnt her craft and her love of understanding how businesses operate profitably. We discussed the importance of how all teams and departments with hospitality need to collaborate for a successful business. Everyone is different and everyone has a different skillset and experience to bring to the table. She is using her experiences to educate, consult and guide hospitality businesses in finance. Whilst we both love a spreadsheet, when interacting with hospitality business owners, its important to remember that whatever you want to communicate needs to be readable on your phone.
#24 Kathy Hubler: Being intentional
On this episode we hear from Kathy. She started her career in hospitality as a chef in New York. She then moved to front of house, where being a bar tender helped her overcome her shyness. She shares some great stories from her time in New York working with chefs and guests and creating memorable moments. During a career break she discovered coaching, which then moved her to the other side of the US and beginng a new chapter as a career coach. She started @ladiesagainstthegrain to help women in hospitality focus on their careers and the career of their choice. It was so refreshing to hear her take on career, where you start with yourself first, understand your own values first before starting the job search. We spend so many hours as our place of work, its important that we give it the right amount of attention and be intentional about our career choices.
#23 Chiara Fraser : Making life easier
Chiara shares her journey to co-founding Heroomies. A platform designed for women to help them find their ideal accommodation. Putting 'Her' front and centre of the design of the platform and what her requirements may be, finding someplace safe and with a community of like minded women. She started her hospitality journey in events in Dubai, running festivals, building communities. She then took the time out during Covid to really reflect on what she wanted to do. Heroomies was born out of a personal experience that she had when trying to find accommodation in Barcelona. I wish something like Heroomies had existed when I first moved to London We also discussed how its so important to take care of your mental health and look after yourself. Focus on the things that you are passionate about.
# 22 Catrina Pengelley: Positive Mindset
On this episode we hear from Cat. She started her hospitality journey as a chef and like many of us her journey took her on a circuitous route to sales and with a pandemic in between to disrupt it. She always wanted to travel, so she first left Vancouver for the Rocky Mountains. Then a desire to work in Europe brought her to London, which is where her career in sales started. During the conversation, she 'nerded out' on the Danesfield hotel and when you listen to her, you will understand why. Her passion and positivity is infection. And it helped her during the pandemic, she sees every situation as an opportunity and how to make the best of it. She volunteered, up-skilled, networked, freelanced and did various initiatives to keep her busy. She loves the diversity of the industry, not only from a career perspective, but also from cultures and people you meet.
#21 Maria Malaniia: Endless creativity
On this episode we hear from Maria and special guest, her dog, who also contributed to the conversation :) It was her desire to want to work with people that translated for her to have a career in hospitality. She was fascinated by all the possible careers you can have in tourism and hospitality. An internship with IHG translated into a five year career with them where she was introduced to branding. And this is where she found her place in the industry. She loves the creativity that comes with branding and how it translates into both the physical space and the guest experience. She has now become a freelance brand manager and is applying all her experiences with her clients. As a freelancer she has also had to teach herself sales, which was not something she thought she would do, but she reminds us that anything is possible. She also has a channel The Savvy Hotelier, where she imparts her knowledge from the industry and help graduates with their careers. We talked a lot about branding, a topic that we both enjoy and found ways to weave it throughout the conversation. It was her answer to my final question 'Who Inspires you?' that inspired me. Yourself. We are each out own inspiration, take time to take stock of your lives and recognise all that you have achieved.
#20 Eva Chan: Making connections
On this episode we hear from Eva Chan. Even though she had a real passion for hotels from a young age, her parents wanted her to have a 'real professional' career. So to satisfy her parents she trained to be an accountant and spent a few years in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Japan. Then she decided that it was time to follow her own passion and went for a masters in hospitality at Oxford Brooks. It was pure determination that got her into an event to help build her connections to get contacts for her thesis. She then transitioned her career into hospitality with roles at Michels and Taylor, JLL and now with Wyndham. She shared the importance of staying curious, keep your mind open to different opportunities. One such opportunity took her to Peru to present a paper she worked on with her colleague. She shares how she balances motherhood with work, which was especially challenging during the pandemic and having supportive employer was a real blessing. Use listening skills to make connections, is her key to her success and just go for it.
#19 Shona Whitehead: Try different things
On this episode we hear from Shona. She had her first role in hospitality at 13 and much to her parents dismay she was inspired to pursue a career in hospitality. At 17 she was in Glasgow to work for a year, which solidified her interest in hospitality and then went onto study it. She worked at various hospitality companies throughout her career in the UK, found herself in revenue management in the 90s and made that her area of expertise. 13 years ago, she decided to take all her knowledge, experience and network to start her own business as a commercial consultant within hospitality. During this time her own consultancy has evolved as the industry as evolved and now take on project management and technology transformation. She thought she wanted to be a GM when she started her career in hospitality, but we discussed the importance of keeping in an open mind to different opportunities, understand what you enjoy and what your skillsets are. She has been a big fan of the stories shared on 'Inspiring Women in Hospitality' and she especially appreciates the variety of the women who are interviewed.
#18 Krystal Prakaikaew Na-Ranong: Be Bold
On this episode we hear from Krystal. She prefers not to have titles, to allow herself to be more creative and involved in all areas of her business, The Slate Hotel in Phuket. We discuss the journey and transformation of this hotel from the family business to what it has become today. They honour the family's tin mining history for four generations and incorporated it into the designed on the hotel. From a young age she knew she was going to be in the hospitality business, she went away to learn French and was determined to study at the hotel school in Lausanne. Like me, adjusting to European culture and food, did take its time, but we both grew to love and appreciate all that food and culture can bring to us. Which is also an important part of her brand the Slate. Krystal used food to bring the local culture to the guests. She was prepared to be different, have faith in herself and go after what she believed in. She says to be bold, commit yourself and it is worth taking the risk.
# 17 Jennifer Cronin : Gift of education
On this episode we hear from Jennifer. What I admired the most about her journey is that she had a plan for her career, something I could learn to be better at. Plans for her MBA, when to be a GM, to have international experience and she went on to achieve them all. She utilised education to help leap frog her career and its what she needed to do to level up. She shared that its good to have to have the courage to make mistakes and combat your imposter syndrome by owning the role and making it your own. She went on to do her PHD in crisis leadership and she created what she called the living manual. Before she took on her first CEO role, she joined the company knowing that this was her career path and she had her mentor supporting her. Throughout your career she says that its important to be transparent of your ambitions so that you can work together with your employer. She believes in the gift in education and has helped her throughout her career journey.
# 16 Celine Vadam : Trust in yourself
On this episode we hear from Celine. She has been an inspiration to me from the moment I met her. When it came to networking, she worked the room like a pro. When I complimented her on this, it turns out it's the thing she likes the least. She shares how she finds the motivation to network. Her journey into hospitality started with an interest in tourism and how it can help the economy of a destination. She went into consulting, then a stint in STR with me, then in development and hotel operations for pre-openings. She has now started her own consultant focusing on wellness and sustainability. It is her interest in constant learning and asking questions, that helped expand her knowledge and experience. One of her biggest learnings has been that no matter the situation, it is so important to stay true to yourself and not give up on your values. Even when it comes to dressing, ditch the black suit if it is not your style. And did i mention she managed to have her career while being a single mom. She says she is inspired by her daughter, but I think it is her daughter, myself and others who are inspired by Celine.
# 15 Lorraine Copes: Accept Difference
On this episode we hear from Lorraine. Lorraine wears many hats, honestly I do not know how she does it all. With a background in procurement she is a part time consultant, life coach and also the founder of Be Inclusive Hospitality. When we first spoke she was at the beginning of starting her social enterprise and I am so proud of how much she has grown to amplify voices and increase visibility for people of colour within hospitality. She was compelled to drive this cause forward and I am inspired by the work she is doing. What I also took away from this conversation is her learning to be your true and authentic self. We both agreed that learning who we are takes time, and at a young age when you first enter the workforce it cane be daunting and be swept up within the culture of the brand. Authenticity is the core of everything that Lorraine stands for.
# 14 Yvonne Yeo: "Do it with excellence"
On this episode Yvonne shares with us her journey into hospitality. From her teens she knew she wanted to be in hospitality, very much drawn to it by the architecture of the buildings. After realising that an architectural career was not for her, she decided to work in hotels. After hotel school she started working with the Capella Hotel Group in Singapore in operations and moved up thanks to the support of some great mentors. Then she went to Cornell to do a masters, which helped her get a role in development back at Capella. After a few years she went to work at a co-working start-up. Which eventually inspired her to start her own business - Relogo. They are the relocation experts and also have a booking platform for co-living accommodation. Having a child did not deter her from continuing her own start up journey. Yvonne and her co-found spent time analysing the market to understand what would be the best offering and what was missing in the market. She has been inspired by other founders, such as from The Great Room in Singapore and Cappella Hotel Group. She credits her experiences and learnings form hospitality to help her start her business. She reminds us not to be scared of the skills we do not have, but focus on what we do and what we can bring to the table.
# 13 Emma Yap: Learning from the hospitality cycle
On this episode we hear from Emma in Singapore.She realised in her teens that she wanted to work in hospitality. It was during her time at hotel school in Lausanne, that she realised that there are more career paths available to you other than operations. We agreed that in hospitality you can have a variety of different career paths open up to you. After graduating she started a role in sales and marketing, as she wanted to understand how to bring the business into the hotels, what are the various channels and sources of business. She then had an opportunity in revenue management to learn more about the data and financial side to the hotel business. She then took her sales, marketing and revenue experience and transferred that into a consulting role. Where she applied her operational knowledge to financial projections. She has always worked in a pre-dominantly female led team and has had many mentors and allies that have helped her and encourages her to pursue her career. She does feel things are changing within the industry for more senior female representation and hope that it will continue. One of her learnings throughout her career has been that she is curious and always asking questions to help understand the why. An invaluable skillset to have.
# 12 Anchalika Kijkanakorn: There is a place special, not too far away
On this episode we hear from Anchalika and her story and journey into hospitality. Her story starts with education, where every Asian family wants the best education for their children and she had finished with her masters by her early 20s. Then was invited to join GE leadership development program and her career journey started there. She stayed with them for several years, based in US, Singapore, London and with lots of travel. She was in compliance, auditing and travelled the world with her job staying at many hotels. For her holidays, when she could choose where to stay she would look for cute B&Bs, unique hotels for a different experience. One day she woke up in London, thinking to herself, what she was still doing there when all her family were in Thailand. Which is when she decided to convert their family beach home in Pran Buri into a hotel. She instilled in the hotel all the things that she loved and enjoyed and six months before they even opened they were already fully booked. One of the building blocks for her hotels was driven by a social cause at its heart. She set up the Pure Blue Foundation to protect the environment and work with the local community. She has gone on to opening more hotels in Thailand, with the same ethos in mind. While she may not have always known what she was doing, she did what felt right, went with her emotions, justified it with analytics and has created a beautiful brand.
Link to the Aleenta website: https://www.aleenta.com
# 11 Cyndy Tan Jarabata : Human feng shui for hotels
On this episide Cyndy shares with us her experiences from hospitlatiy. For her going into hospitality was like a vocation, a calling, she just knew she wanted to be in this industry. And it was also a way to make a name for herself, outside of the family who were in construction. Started her career in Cebu in sales and moved around a lot to various properties in various positions. Every time she moved to a new hotel, she would reach out to all her clients personally with handwritten postcards to inform them of her move. The art of building your network and contacts before Linkedin. She then decided to start a business with her brother in consulting for hotels and also developing hotels within the Philippines. With his background in construction and hers in hospitality they made a great team. Cyndy always recognised the importance of learning about your clients, your markets, speakigng to the local, building relationships and understanding the wider economic implications and how it may affect the development of hotels. Alongside her hotels career, Cyndy had a passion to support women's health in the Philippines and is part of several non-profits. During the pandemic she started a support group for hotel owners in the Phillpines with an effort to focus on sustainable practises. She is constantly learning, evolving and changing the work that she does. At the same time recognising that change doesnt happen overnight and if you want change to happen, you need to be the one to plant that seed.
# 10 Elizabeth Espinosa : Hospitality is noble work
On this episode Elizabeth shares her journey into hospitality which actually started with a psychology degree because she wanted to work with people. She quickly realised she didn't want to go down the academic route and on her guidance counsellors suggestion she went on to do the Disney college program for a year and that got her into hospitality. After graduation, she opened up a restaurant with her father as a first time entrepreneur. A few years later she joined Loews at front desk. After a masters program, she had the opportunity to do the opening of the JW Marquis in Dubai which then took her onto an opportunity in China. It is her time in China, where she discovered her true passion for learning, inspiring, educating and she started Inspire Hospitality. Through Inspire Hospitality she consults with business who want to put customer service at the core of their offering, education of the upcoming generations and hotel ownership. I love how she describes hospitality - its noble work. And it's this noble work where we learn the skill of human connections, which she predicts will be the new luxury.
# 9 Anne Arrowsmith: 'Khun Anne you think too loud.'
Anne shared her journey into hospitality that started by reading books by Agathie Christie. It was either going to be a career criminal or a travel career, I am very happy to say that she chose the latter. She has worked with some great brands such as Regent, Mondiran and Four Seasons, where she spent over 20 years and is now working with a independent Thai hotel owner with two properties. Her family and friends have helped steady her and give her perspective. On one occasion steering her towards making a career decision that aligned with her values and commitments which was ready to give up for her dream job. Her colleagues in Thailand have said that 'Khun Anne, you think too loud' and although she was timid as a child, her life experiences taught her to speak up and use her voice.
# 8 Juriana Spierenburg: Insightful Hotel Manager
Juriana shared her journey and career in hospitality. Having always worked in hotels and restaurants from a young age she knew she didnt want a desk job, however her parents wanted to ensure she got a good business degree as well and thats how she ended up in Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne. After graduating her first role took her to Miami where she learnt how not to handle a crisis, this was around 2008/9 and then she moved to Malaysia where she learnt the better way of handing a crisis is through transparency and honesty. She shared the importance of knowing your values and that it lines with the company that you are working with. And more than just the company, you have to be aligned with the people you are working with, rather than just the company. My favourite part of her story was that from the very beginning she always made it a point to have lunch with different people everyday to get to know them and learn their jobs. She is the kind of leader that we should all aspire to be like. She kept a flexible and open approach to her career development that led her to work across four different continents. She reminded me the importance of our own inspiration and how we inspire others around us.
# 7 Michelle Sadler: Love of data led her to revenue management.
Michelle shared her journey into hospitality. From a young age she always wanted to know how it all worked together behind the scenes at hotel. After graduation she was drawn towards revenue management and found her love of data and analysis that helped her to be successful in this area. At the time of this recording, she was on furlough and took that time to do a masters in business analytics, further cementing her interest in data. She also shared with us the inspirations that she found from other women who had shared their stories before. Her takeaways from the stories were to follow your passions, the variety of career paths available to us in hospitality and to take ownership of your own career.
# 6 Ali Powell. Taking the customer centric approach.
Ali shares her hospitality journey. Starting with HIlton's Elevate program, which still runs today, she found hers expertise in sales and marketing roles, which eventually developed into what we now know as commercial roles. With an affinity for numbers, she focused on the data to take a customer centrice approach. She left hospitality briefly to work at the Royal Mail, experts in customer data, but missed the 'sexiness' of hospitality and came back. She now runs her own commercial consultancy where she helps business grow their profits. She shared with us the importance of continuous learning and to never stop, there is always something new to learn.
Ali's website: https://comaccel.co.uk/
#5 Kym Kapadia's story.She cares greatly about being fair, standing up for whats important and looking out for your people.
Kym was so generous with her time and her stories. From thinking she would have a career as a policewoman she found herself in hospitality by accident. Then went on to have long careers with HIlton, IHG, etc. She was always good with numbers and found her niche in the commercial side of hospitality, which when she started wasn't a role they way it is defined today. She cares greatly about being fair, standing up for whats important and looking out for your people. Having worked in many parts of the world, she is very aware of the multiculturalism and diversity in our industry and it shaped her.
#4 Michelle Walder's story. The female GM role model for everyone.
We talked about how she was born into a life of hospitality. Not only the operational side, but design as well. She went to work at properties designed by creatives such as Ian Schrager, Starck, Andrew Balasz etc. Whilst she loved beautiful buildings, she quickly realised architecture and design were not to her liking and went back into hospitality. After studying at hotel school she spent time between the US and London working at various hotels and eventually to the role of GM at the Nomad Hotel in New York. Incredible opportunities coming through her networks. We discussed passion for the industry, challenges of work life balance, lack of female role models and in the end you can figure it out.
# 3 Noemi Dulischewski's shares her journey to setting up her wild pop up bakery in Guatemala
Today's recording comes to you from Guatemala! And what an inspiring story that Noemi has to share of following her passion of food and through food how to make an impact in someone else's life. She went to Guatemala to work with chefs from Noma and then the virus hit the world and she decided to stay and make the most of it and opened a wild bakery popup. Which is in line with her brand wild daughter ( you can find more details here: ) a wild card to play with new ideas and concept.
You can follow her on instagram @wild.daughter and @wild_bakery_
#2 Samantha Allen shares how she is bringing her knowledge in environmental science and public health to the hospitality industry.
A super conversation, talking about building standards, hotels wanting to be more environmenatally conscious, to being brave. Samantha has a background in public health and environmental science and she is bringing her knowledge to the hospitality industry to help support them in their environmental and sustainability efforts. And we went on to talk about a variety of topics from women and their collective empathy, importance of sleep, how one economics class makes you more likely to cheat etc
#1 Laura Jones shares her love of hosting brought her into hospitality and how she got over her imposter syndrome to run a landscape business with her husband.
Laura shared how she translated her love of hosting into her professional life by focusing on a career in hospitality. Transitioning to a landscape business with her husband still taking care of the people around her with plants and greenary, which is ever so important in our lives. As she made her transition, she went through a period of imposter syndrome, which she then overcome by recognising that being the 'newbiw' has its advantages as well. And she transitioned easily into the role of full time entreprenear, as she has always had that independent mindset.
My favourite on their instagram account is their nursery visit with Frankie :)