Inspiring Women in HospitalitySep 21, 2023
#121 Heather Byron: I am here to help the hospitality industry accelerate change.
On this episode we hear from Heather. Passion for technology and diversity are the two themes that came out for me during this conversation. She has a background in management consulting in various other industries, first working for other firms and then starting her own consultancy. She is now in hospitality technology through an opportunity where the stars aligned. She sees technology as a way of adding onto the customer and employee experience for hospitality businesses. When it comes to diversity, a real advocate for hearing different voices and believes that those businesses that can harness this will benefit the most. With her passion she is here to accelerate change in the industry.
#120 Vivien Ivanyi: Networking for me is creating and weaving groups of people I can call on for different perspectives.
On this episode we hear from Vivien. She decided to follow her father into hospitality, making her a third generation hotelier in her family. She went in and out of hospitality and dipped her toe into other industries, but they are all opportunities for learning and growth. She is curious by nature and education has always been a big part of her life, an area she also felt it important to learn from other industries. Her career journey has taken her around the globe and each move was when an opportunity presented itself, at the right time for her professionally and personally. While she has been moving around, it always brought her back to Paris, which has been her home, on and off for the past 20 years. She has weaved a network of women and male peers to stay connected with, learn from and they are the people who have supported her career journey thus far.
#119 Claire Boscq: Lead with the yang, manage with the ying.
On this episode we hear from Claire. Her Dad opened and ran a restaurant in the south of France, which meant she was going to either love or hate hospitality. Fortunately, it was love. She started her career in hospitality working the seasons across Europe and then ended up as a GM in a hotel in Jersey. When she became a single mother, she could not keep up with the hotel working hours anymore and decided to open her own mystery shopping business, after identifying a gap in the market. Post pandemic, she has reinvented herself and is now a speaker and champion for customer experience. She talks about perseverance, not giving up, not to lose faith in yourself and bring the positive energy.
#118 Khun Lak: I live a blended life - western efficiency with Thai smile and warmth
On this episode we hear from Khun Lak. Being a diplomat's daughter meant that the first 25 years of her life she was constantly moving around the world but coming back to Thailand in between. She has lived what she calls a blended life- western efficiency with Thai smile and warmth. When she became a single mother, she returned to Thailand and made a commitment to her family for a good life. So, she decided to start her own business in manufacturing crystals. Then she went into education and opened an international pre-school. She was not done yet; on property she inherited in Hua Hin she opened a boutique hotel. She did not have any experience in any of these industries, but it did not deter her. She researched, learnt, asked questions, networked and most importantly she had belief in herself that she could do it.
#117 Fiona (Bührer) von Waldenfels: No better education than culture and travelling around the world
On this episode we hear from Fiona. We both agreed that the travelling we did in our early years helped us to be adaptable and she is now doing the same with her children. They live between Berlin, South Africa, and Italy. She has had a varied career journey across various industries and countries, but she always came back to wine. Wine being in her family for three generations and now she is running the Saxenburg Wine Estate. We talked about what is like to be a woman in wine and how its slowly starting to change. She also shared while her branding and messaging stays on point, her packaging will change in different parts of the world. Which is also something she learnt from her previous career experiences. No matter what we do in life, we are learning, and we take that with us forward.
#116 Emma Pike: I was destined to do something different with my life.
On this episode we hear from Emma. She always knew from a young age that she was destined for something different. Never enjoyed school that much, and surrounded by a big entrepreneurial family she started her first business at 16. It was thanks to the help of a mentor, who spotted her early in her career, that she was able to build up her first company to sell by the age of 18. Originally from Australia she moved in Hong Kong and here she set up two business, one in website design and the other as an online butcher. She is now based in Singapore where she has now started an alcohol-free beverage supplier in Asia. She identifies gaps in the market and goes for it. She sees the potential, networks, asks for help, collaborates, identify the end game, and finds a way. Inspirational conversation for any aspiring entrepreneur.
#115 Ling Wei Tan: Do not hold back from voicing your concerns
On this episode we hear from Ling. One of her key learnings was to be able to voice out your concerns, do not hold that negative energy and be vocal of your needs to your organisation. A lesson all women, including myself can learn from. During her time at JLL she had the opportunity to move to Shanghai to set up their hotel brokerage team, which was her time to shine, come out of her shell and she was inspired by the strong female role models she came across in Shanghai. One she feels is different upon her return to Singapore and she is now actively getting involved in various initiatives to support women empowerment. We also talked about networking, which is important for our careers but how the networking culture is. Often in the evening, with drinks and not every woman or man wants to drink. To making that ok that we do not have to drink to enjoy ourselves or build our careers.
#114 Amanda Thomson: Rip up the rule book and start again
On this episode we hear from Amanda. She was always curious by nature and would ask loads of questions as a child growing up, which got her into media as a BBC broadcaster in the arts space. With the advent of social media, NDAs, publicists she started seeing a shift and decided it was time for a change. She knew that with whatever she did in life, she wanted to make a difference and rip up the rule book in that space. One of her obsessions was fine wine and champagne and so her first career change was to train in making champagne and she moved with her family to Paris to do exactly that. While she was successful with her own champagne and prosecco business, she recognised that there was not going to be much commercial success for her. Being the journalist she inherently was, she picked up on a trend of healthy drinking within leader, industry and legislation. With the same obsession for fine, she put that towards producing non-alcoholic sparkling wine that was not filled with sugar and chemicals and make a real premium alternative for those who did not want to drink. She has same great insights of what we can do to bring more women into this space, such as amplifying the female voice, visibility, speaking up, male allies, hiring women where possible, outreach programmes and much more. She is a true inspiration and was quite moved when she shared her inspiration.
#113 Tatiana Veller: Reinvent yourself every 3 to 7 years.
On this episode we hear from Tatiana. She chose hospitality because she wanted to have an international career and she sure did. She has worked at hotel brands, bagel shops, airline catering, executive search, investment consulting, asset management, ownership groups and she is still reinventing herself. She talks about how every 3 to 7 years we need redefine what our goals are and work towards it. When it comes to career change think from the positive motivation and what are we going to learn from the next experience and where the opportunities lie. She shares with us her experience when she called up Steve Rushmore to pitch to him to open an executive search business in Moscow, where she knew no one else was doing it and could make a great impact. Those of us working in hospitality know what it takes to be constantly switch on, be an extrovert and for Tatiana, she is all these things, but a liberating discovery for her in her 40s was that big conferences are exhausting for her and now she does not hesitate to leave at 6pm to recuperate her energy. We are constantly learning about ourselves, and we should never stop to take inventory regularly.
#112 Viona Zhang: I was the decision maker for my life from 9 years old.
On this episode we hear from Viona. She has been an independent thinker and making decisions for her life since the age of 9, when her parents sent her to boarding school. Her Dad would give her a budget for clothes, and she would shop for herself. At the age of 17 she was already asking herself why she was on this earth, but it’s this thinking that made her realise that she wanted to explore the world and brought her to hospitality. Her first internship was at Disneyland Paris and six internships later she knew she wanted to go into consulting. Which she did for five years in hospitality real estate. She is now the co-founder of Saijai based out of Bangkok bringing work to the informal workers who are not protected by social benefits, as is very common in Asia. She is driven by purpose and impact, and not just money and climbing the corporate ladder. Throughout the conversation she shares some great insights from her life experiences e.g. self-love comes constant reflection, we have our greatest learnings from failure, questioning whether we are doing things we want to or just because society says and so much more. I think we could have carried on for a long time. One final thought from Viona I will share is to view life like a river.
#111 Gonzalez sisters: Lee and Lauren building high end hostels
On this episode we hear from Lee and Lauren, sisters, running high end hostels. A special episode where we hear about their journey of being entrepreneurs. Travel played an important part in their lives and then eventually for this business. After careers in finance, they decided they wanted something else. Whilst travelling in Barcelona they bought their first hostel and their thoughts were now is the time to do it when they have less risk and responsibilities and great learning platform. Having stayed in several hostels whilst travelling, they knew they could do it better and they did. They opened two in fact before returning to the US, after completing their respective MBAs. Back in the US, they opened their first hostel in New York and second now in Portland. When it comes to their business, they do everything together, the sister duo, from planning, development, designing, finances etc. As they have grown, they have teams in place to run the operations, but it’s still just the two of them owning and running their business. We go into some interesting details about being a women in real estate and how learning finance speak was harder than learning Catalan. Learning the nuances that come along with it and the gender biases that come along with it. One thing they both shared whether it was dealing with investors or guests is to be honest in your communication.
#110 Felicity Black-Roberts: A person is more powerful when they have the ability to look back and reflect. Give yourself feedback.
On this episode we hear from Felicity. Her mother wanted her to be a schoolteacher, but she knew that she did not want a role that her stuck behind a desk all day. So, she trained to be a chartered surveyor. But coming into the workforce in the 90s during a recession meant a property role was hard to come by and she found herself in a company that focused on hospitality real estate. Then she spent a few years with Forte Hotels before making an odd move to charity. Maybe odd on paper, but Felicity had a specific objective in mind, to get experience of managing a team and this is how she got it. She came back into hospitality real estate representing PE owners, before switching back to brands. This experience allowed her to see things from both sides and come up with a solution when negotiating a deal. We talked about how feedback is important and how it’s played a role in her own development. Being a good manager means spending time with your team. Working in a multi-generational workplace means we learn from one another and be ready to embrace change. It took her a while to get comfortable in her own skin and she has learnt that it’s better to listen, assess the room, gather intelligence and then speak with meaningful contributions.
#109 Isabel Wong: Hotel asset class is sexy
On this episode we hear from Isabel. She was inspired be her Dad to come into real estate. It was through her rotational programme at JLL where the focus was more on investment side of real estate that she found her opportunity in hospitality and then decided to stay in it. To her hospitality is a 'sexy' asset class, more interesting than the others and she likes the social aspect of hospitality. Upon reflection on her journey thus far, she wishes she had asked more questions when she stated out as analyst. Over the years, with the support of her team and mentors, she has grown not only in her technical skills but her confidence too. As you progress in your career the focus is more on client relationship and negotiation, whilst she is still learning she feels that is in a good environment to grow her career. She has also seen the change in the sector with more gender balance and inclusion for women.
#108 Monika Moser: Build empathy towards your team, you have to know them. They are the strength of your company.
On this episode we hear from Monika. Growing up in South America, she came to Germany for her education, but it was her desire to learn French that brought her to France and where she has now been for 26 years. Impressive career across various hotels in France in front office roles, with some breaks in between for studies in Cornell and Essec. She is all about continuous learning and allowing yourself the time and space for new ideas. She never wanted to be a GM because she saw how the role was changing to be more focused on finances and away from the floor, where she wanted to be. She took all her skills she had gained in hospitality to open an interior design firm in Paris, which reminds us of our valuable transferable skills. We talked about the importance of empathy and how its needed to build a strong team. When we know our employees, trust them and care for them, they pay it back to us. Her firm she has now is run on the principals of trust and flexibility to allow everyone to do their best work.
#107 Caroline Stevens: One day the phone rang
On this episode we hear from Caroline. What an impressive career and its good thing she answered that phone call every time it rang, as you will hear that it’s a running theme throughout her career. She once wanted to be an air traffic controller, but her first role in hospitality was as a cocktail waitress and she shares her career journey in HR that took her to Chief People Officer at Minor International. She has worked in Australia, Dubai and most recently in Bangkok, before taking a sabbatical. Why she chose to follow her career in HR was the ability to change people's lives that inspired her. 'People, power, profit' is the magic formula to make any organisation soar. Two gender differences she has noticed in her career is that men network better than women, and men also negotiate better than woman. Actually, men negotiate, women do not do it at all. How do we work together to change this?
#106 Hulya Erdal: Food connects us, it is what brings us together across cultures.
On this episode we hear from Hulya. Her name in Turkish means 'daydreamer' and she has always had the biggest dreams for her life. The overarching theme of her journey thus far has been connection through food. Food brings us together, cultures together, learning from one another and respect. It helps people relax and open up and she has found ways to incorporate cooking with her coaching practise. She has been a chef, a teacher, on radio, marketing and now coach and taken different career paths based on what she needed for her life at that moment in time. She found being in hospitality gave her the flexibility she needs, and she believes than any hospitality business can offer this to their employees eg hiring two people for the same job. Growing up neither of us liked being told what to do, but we have found some areas of our lives that need structure and other areas where we do not follow the recipe.
#105 Catherine Chan: Show empathy and patience when someone asks you for help
On this episode we hear from Catherine. A newbie to the hospitality industry, but welcome with open arms. She brings her real estate experience to branded residences with Accor and bridges the communication with the owners, developers, buyers, and brands. Born in Hong Kong, she immigrated with her family to the US as the age of four, with her three other siblings and mother. Listen till the end to what an inspiration her mother was to move with her children on her own. Catherine started her career in the US, but then moved to Shanghai on the guidance of her father to understand that she would have more opportunities as an Asian woman. In fact in Shanghai, she did not feel her gender hindered her in anyway and her US experience was seen as a bonus. She shares the highs and lows of her career, what kind of leader she is and utilising kindness, patience and empathy with her team. All throughout her career she had to ask for her promotions or go elsewhere, which is a good reminder to us all women to ask for what we want and deserve, don’t wait for your company to do so.
#104 Marit Connell: We learn to adapt as we grow as leaders.
On this episode we hear from Marit. Originally from the Netherlands, she came to London for a five-month internship and basically never left. She stayed for 12 years working in various hotels across London in different operations roles in front desk. Each role she got through her networking and connections. She also took time for travelling in between roles for a reset. Due to her own interest in revenue management, she took the time to education herself in this field with the help of one of her colleagues. Then when a role became available, she jumped on it. When she moved to Australia, where she has now been for 15 years, she joined TFE hotels in revenue management. She and another colleague laid the foundations for revenue management in the organisation. We also discussed how her leadership has developed over the years and we both agreed that our styles adapt and change depending on who we are interacting with. She encourages her team to take time to self-reflect and also get feedback from her team on her leadership to continue to grow and develop.
#103 Pattrin (Pyn) Benyabadhana Na Ayudhya : Confidence is having the courage to try.
On this episode we hear from Pyn. She started working in hotels from the age of 15 through various internships and her interest in hospitality just grew from there. Having graduated in 2020 in the middle of covid, she took any and all opportunities for work experience, always asking questions, being willing to learn and being open. She is now in a feasibility and development role with Radisson. She does often find herself being the youngest person in the room, so that does mean she feels she has to prove herself, but at the same time she sees it as a luxury. Its ok to make mistakes and learn from them, now is the time to learn and soak up as much knowledge as possible and be inspired by the people around you. She has an incredible amount of self-awareness and confidence that I admired throughout our conversation. I love how she describes confidence. It’s about loving yourself and having the courage to try. She may be young in her experiences, but we all have a lot to learn from her.
#102 Sandunie Liyanagamage: Start thinking about sustainability tourism as a journey
On this episode we hear from Sandunie. She has taken her love of travel, hospitality, ocean conversation to find herself a career in sustainable tourism. From Sri Lanka, she knows first-hand the importance tourism has on a country's economy and the risk we can face on the environment with over tourism. One of the values that guide her is to have diversity and to have an interdisciplinary mindset towards sustainability. She is new to the hospitality industry and one thing that she noticed immediately was the lack of diversity in senior roles across the sector. We all need to do our bit by acknowledging it and by speaking up. Whenever she finds a new topic that interests her, she immerses herself into it, attending events, webinar etc and not being afraid to "cold call" ie reaching out to experts in their field and asking for their time and insights.
#101 Samantha Lauver-Marion: There are no wrong moves in your life.
On this episode we hear from Samantha. She came to Thailand for her internship and basically got stuck. She did do a pre-opening on an island in the Maldives, which she advises all her students to do, something I regret not doing, but during the conversation she reminded me that there are no wrong moves in your life. She spent some time in events, loyalty and now in education all with Minor Hotels for the past 13 years. we talked about culture and the impact on speaking up, how we have both experienced it. She encourages her students to always try asking questions because it will benefit your peers. She has great example where she gets the students involved using post it notes and practicing. Same goes with public speaking, start small before you move onto larger audiences. Find what works for you, whether in work or your personal life. Try different things till you know which techniques work for you. I also love how she approached networking with kindness and a view to paying it forward.
#100 Catherine Pucher: Be friendly to people at all times, don't stand in their way and help their path
On this episode we hear from Catherine. It’s her father who made inspired her to be a tough business women. After high school she spent a few years working across different hotels and restaurants across Europe learning the different styles of F&B. Then after completing her diploma at EHL she moved back to Barcelona, where she grew up, and after a short detour in a kindergarten she moved back into restaurants. And at the age of 27, with our common friend, opened her first restaurant, which was one of her life goals to open her own establishment by the time she was 28. After a couple of years, she moved to Thailand, where she has now been for the past 10 years. The last 7 years with event company Shloka, doing both corporate events and weddings. What has made this company work is the relationship with her business partners and how they level each other out. And relationships in general, it’s important to cultivate them, both professionally and personal and put the effort in to maintain them. This is how you build your support system.
#99 Anita Srisakulchawla: Start speaking up
On this episode we hear from Anita. On the advice of her father, she chose to be an interior designer rather than an architect as he felt that it would be easier to do business in this area as a woman, and in school she was always drawn to subjects like art so it suited her skill set as well. After completing her master she opened her own firm in Bangkok and one of her first projects was the Dream Hotel, which she then went on to win an award for. She has grown her business through word-of-mouth since then, being very practical and honest with her clients. She herself will say that there is no such thing as 100% perfection, but they will deliver on the project. We talked about the challenges that women face, and in particular Asian women face when it comes to speaking up. It’s hard, and she learnt this the hard way, but we just have to do it, to be noticed and for our own sanity. She challenges her team to criticise and accept criticism so that they are well prepared for defending their projects. And as their leaders she always reassures them that she is there to back them up.
#98 Chutima (May) Fuangkham Kennedy : Everyday my goal is to do better than yesterday
On this episode we hear from Khun May. She studied political science, international relations, computer science and English. She has worked for OTAs and Thai immigration before she came into hospitality when she joined ONYX 13 years ago. She has been in marketing and has grown her career impressively to become VP of marketing. Whilst she is humble, she was also very clear that she had to speak up and fight for what she wanted and what she believed that she deserved. Advise she has for other women when it comes to speaking up, is just do it, if you don’t speak up, they will not know what you want, no one can read your mind. We also discussed how digital marketing has evolved in hospitality, importance of branding and looking at the entire customer journey. What is also changing is the people working in hospitality in Thailand and in what positions and roles, the benefits of being a foreigner or Thai. She was very nervous doing this podcast, but it was her way of setting an example of what she advises. Do what scares you, get out of your comfort zone and be heard.
#97 Yuwadee Charoenporn: Open you mind to new opportunities
On this episode we hear from Khun Yuwadee. She wanted to be a medical student and after a work experience at a hospital she realised that it was the engaging with patients that she enjoyed more, than giving out the medicine. So, despite her parents’ reservations, she switched to hospitality, and they respected her decision. She started her career in 2002 and since then Thailand has seen many turbulent years. She started her career at a time when OTAs were coming into the market, and she was eager to learn and be useful. So she took it upon herself to educate herself and become an expert, which allowed her career to grow from sales, e-commerce and revenue management. I love the way she describes the hotel industries adoption of technology: 'we are not behind, but we have time to adapt and learn'. After a prolonged maternity leave, she joined D-Edge solutions as country manager and works closely with local hoteliers to provide support on business performance.
#96 Michelle Pascoe: Everybody's role is important in hospitality, they go together like domino
On this episode we hear from Michelle. She shares with us her incredible journey in hospitality, from working in operations to starting her own business. She started her business, not only because she had a horrific interview, but also because she was looking for flexibility and to choose the kind of life she wanted to live and deserved. She did this during a time well before zoom and social media and worked hard to become and incredible role model for her children. She believes in intentional leadership, and she brings this heart centred approach to her training and business. She loves research and set up her own software and focuses on multi-generational data. We have four generations in the workforce and six generations as customers. Michelle shares how these various groups have been impacted by life and how they behave both in the workplace and as customers. Our shared interested in women in hospitality we discussed what was needed to close the leadership gap and how we can support one another on this journey.
#95 Lada Shelkovnikova: I believe that in life we are all teachers and students
On this episode we hear from Lada. She studied to be a lawyer, but very specifically a lawyer in hospitality. At the start of her career, she spoke up about her interest an asked for every hospitality project. Her career has taken her from Ukraine to Dubai and now Singapore and now works on projects in 27 countries. She has learnt that she has resilience and courage, with every move she made, and she can be successful. We discuss the changes that we have both witnessed in the hospitality market and how she has seen negotiation change to more healthy discussion with in-depth knowledge of the market. She shares the advice her mentor gave her very early on, 'treat every project as if it were your own' and she has taken that fundamental principal throughout her journey, Another learning she shares is take the moment to reflect and recognise yourself for the effort you have put in, and when it gets tough, take the time for yourself and treat yourself. Find what gives you the energy you need.
#94 Radhika Arapally : Acting as a catalyst between sustainability and hospitality
On this episode we hear from Radhika. She is an entrepreneur with sustainable impact solutions for the hospitality and travel market. This was her intro statement, succinct, with enough information to want me to ask her more. She has been in and out of hospitality throughout her career, but she came back to it in the end, like a boomerang. Throughout her life she always had curiosity and concern in nature, alongside a love of data. So she focused her early career in econometrics and that is also how her career in hospitality developed. But then she started asking the sustainability questions and was not finding the answers she was looking for. A forced change in her career due to covid gave her the time to focus this next part of her education on environmental topics and armed with this knowledge she went on to set up her own business, The Sustainability Kiosk. It is a platform for hospitality businesses for their sustainability needs. They are the bridge and the catalyst to make change happen.
Link to website: https://sustainabilitykiosk.com/
Link to podcast: https://sustainabilitykiosk.com/podcasts/
Link to book: https://www.routledge.com/Sustainability-in-the-Hospitality-Industry-Principles-of-sustainable-operations/Legrand-Sloan-Chen/p/book/9781138915367
# 93 Kazi Maysun: Architecture and hospitality are both a form of art
On this episode we hear from Maysun. She runs an architectural firm and hospitality business in Dhaka simultaneously. For her school project she built a hotel, inspired by her family business and wanting to build something. She studied architecture in LA for seven years before returning to Bangladesh to start her own firm, her first project was a garage and through word of mouth she has gone on to designing a variety of projects, even a town. She got into hospitality through the family business when her father needed her support to run one of their hotels. She learnt the hotel business on the job and learnt that it is more than just check ins/check outs, cleaning the rooms and feeding the guests. She came to find her own leadership style and found that she enjoyed interacting with the guests to understand their needs. Inspired by her family their philosophy is to make their hotels a home away from home, they are one of the only local brands that exist in Dhaka, with plans to expand across the rest of the country. We both agreed with the challenges of having your own identity in Bangladesh and what a different working culture it is from the western world.
#92 Apichaya Wongsuwan: There are things you learn when you travel by yourself
On this episode we hear from Apichaya. Her love of backpacking led her to open her own hostel in Koh Tao. She loved the community, the people and identified a gap for a nice hostel in Koh Tao and with the support of her family she just went for it. Along her travels she would always ask to speak to the managers to learn more about the operations and the rest she learnt along the way. After two years of operations, she decided to do her masters in hospitality and when she returned to Thailand, she took on corporate roles, first in HVS and then JLL. During the time she was away, she had a great team and manager to run the operations. Her advice to everyone is to do one solo trip in your life, you learn so much about yourself and how big the world is. She herself learnt to be a lot more independent. Together with her friend she has learnt that there is no such thing as something bad happening to you. #anotherdayanothertradegy It does not have to ruin your day, but can become a funny story to share.
#91 Eva White: Knowing what I know now, I would have set more boundaries earlier in my career
On this episode we hear from Eva. She takes us on her career journey that spans across the UK, Germany and Switzerland. Having graduated in the midst of the GFC it was hard to find a role, and once she did find her ideal role, she then had to have the very brave conversation with her then current employers she was leaving, which is hard to have at the start of your career and during an economic crisis. She had a great mentor early on that showed her the ropes and was very happy to impart his knowledge with her, which was foundational for her. Her next role was extremely challenging full of long hours and lots of travel, and when she looks back, she would do the same but would put in more boundaries and push back. All these experiences helped build her confidence and her career journey has now led her to become Managing Director of Ariv Coliving. Which then got us talking about this accommodation type within hospitality and how it differs and what we can learn from it.
#90 Catherine Monthienvichienchai: Loves to ask questions and being curious
On this episode we hear from Catherine. She started her career as a business journalist, and she was drawn towards travel and hospitality after she moved in Thailand and immersing herself in each destination. She then joined Quo, a creative branding agency and her career just grew organically from content to now Chief Branding Officer. She shares with us her journey, which grew alongside the company's growth. We spent some time talking about branding and what it means, and how its plays a role in so many areas. Not only the external branding for clients, but internal to attract top talent and your own personal brand that will assist you with your career progression. One of the hurdles that Catherine had to overcome was public speaking. As her role grew she was asked to present to clients and she had to build her courage and confidence to do so. What she found was once she did it, the clients were response and she was not so bad afterall. With the support and push from her mentor and CEO of Quo, she has now been presenting on larger stages in conferences and in doing increasing female representation at these events, which while improving is still male dominated. We ended the conversation with admiration for her team, her leadership style and pride in the development of team members ability to shine.
#89 Karin Jongman: Each career move has been a new adventure
On this episode we hear from Karin. She knew at the age of 10 that she wanted to go into hotels, and she ended up going to Hotel School de Hague to study hospitality. She takes us on a journey of her impressive career across several continents with different brands and different roles. She now finds herself at the Le Meridien in Dhaka, my father's home and one of my homes. I am so proud to bring this story to you, cause not only is it in Bangladesh but also a female hotel manager. While Karin has looked at each of her career moves to different countries as an adventure, she recognises for other women in the industry with a family in particular, may not always be easy. It is improving, but hospitality is still very male dominated especially in senior roles. One advise she has is around networking and relationship building. Its a small industry and its important to start fostering those relationships from the start of your career and throughout. She says that we should all set aside at least 1 hour per week to invest in our network and utilise LinkedIn.
#88 Emily Newman: Make your own luck by being good at what you do and being a decent person
On this episode we hear from Emily. She fell into hospitality by accident because she needed a job when she was a teenager and there was a hotel nearby. However, she did realise through the experiences she created that there was a a career here. She went onto study at the University of Surrey, which included a placement year at CBRE and that eventually led to her first role after graduating in marketing, PR and events. She then started her own consultancy for a few years working with a variety of different companies and now she has started her own PR agency together with Katherine Doggrell called NewDogPR focused on B2B hotel investors. She shared that one of her learnings is that you are always learning, every experience is a learning opportunity and how we react to each situation is within our control. We need to get better at not saying 'I am fine' when we are not and just be honest. Find moments in your life when you can be bored, cause that’s when you also find moments of creativity. Her final message is that while we can get all the help we need for our careers and lives, ultimately, we are each individually responsible.
#87 Katherine Doggrell : Loves long walks in the country and writing PR for B2B hotel investors
On this episode we hear from Katherine. She likes long walks in the country and the hospitality industry. Its full of good and welcoming people. She originally started in the music industry but realised that it wasn’t good to combine your hobby with your work. She worked as a paparazzi at one point, to help fund her education. She then found herself in the hospitality industry and stayed. She has seen a lot of changes during her career, rise of the brands, hotels being seen as a viable asset class, lease back, etc and now she is interested to see if hotels could become a consumer brand and not just a brand for the owner. If you are considering becoming a journalist Katherine's advice is to go to a well-known university with a broad network and just do the work. She was very shy when she was a child and so networking did not come easy to her. She has developed the confidence over time by until it becomes natural to you. She now has her own business with Emily Newman, where they offer PR services to the B2B hotel investment sector.
#86 Sophie Chen: Shut up, just say yes and go for it!
On this episode we hear from Sophie. From a young age she was fascinated, or as she called it conned into the glamour of hotels. Every school vacation spent staying in different hotels in Penang, she turned to her mother one day and said that she want to be sitting behind that desk in the hotel lobby one day. Whilst she did go into hotels, her career path took her into F&B. Several years in Malaysia in restaurant operations, a short stint in hotel sales and marketing and then as a teacher, imparting her knowledge to the next generation. She was lured to Macau when the first casinos opened and stayed for nearly 14 years. Moved to Singapore two years ago and wanted a new challenge, so she started her own coaching business working primarily with women. She was drawn to work with women for very similar reasons to myself, as we need more support. It is challenging to be a women and Sophie want to provide the framework for women to be successful.
#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.