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Embracing Change: Insights from Women Leaders in Hospitality

Women in Leadership pannel

Change is a constant companion in the world of hospitality, shaping narratives and redefining leadership roles. Recently, we had the privilege of hearing from eminent women leaders at a panel discussion titled: “A Fresh Take on Change.” Among the voices were Mazilli Restrepo of Accor, Joanne Taylor-Stagg of The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences, Neetu Mistry of Cycas Hospitality, Kalindi Juneja of PoB Hotels, and Emily Kanders Goldfischer of Hertelier.


In this blog, we distill the wisdom shared during this panel, offering a glimpse into their experiences navigating change in an industry that thrives on adaptability. Join us as we explore the dynamic landscape of leadership, where these women have not just embraced change but have become architects of innovation and resilience.


Adaptability: a cornerstone of evolution

Joanne Taylor-Stagg poignantly noted, “Survival of the fittest wins the first race, but adaptability wins survival of the species.” This sentiment resonated throughout the discussion, emphasizing the critical role of adaptability in both personal and professional spheres.

As Neetu Mistry pointed out, embracing change is not just about external shifts but also about investing in our personal evolution. This adaptability is especially pertinent in the hospitality industry, where understanding diverse cultures and backgrounds is paramount to delivering exemplary service.


Women in leadership and adaptability

In the realm of hospitality, the evolution of women’s roles is a stark example of this adaptability. Two decades ago, women in leadership had to camouflage their personal lives to fit into a predominantly male corporate world.

However, as more women ascend to C-suite positions, there's a paradigm shift. Women are no longer expected to be all things to all people, reflecting a broader societal change towards acknowledging and valuing diversity in leadership styles.


Embracing and learning from change

The panelists unanimously agreed that change, though challenging, is a conduit for growth and development. Neetu’s reflection on the pandemic highlighted how forced changes, like virtual hiring, can lead to positive, long-lasting transformations.

Kalindi Juneja, identifying as a disruptor, emphasized the importance of being open as a leader and clearly communicating the vision and impact of change to your team can enable them to adapt to new changes efficiently and effectively.


Women’s leadership post-pandemic

In the context of women in leadership, the pandemic has been a catalyst for reassessing traditional work models. In hospitality, an industry significantly impacted by COVID-19, women leaders have been at the forefront of navigating these challenges. Their approach often involves a blend of resilience, empathy, and innovation - qualities that are increasingly recognized as essential in post-pandemic leadership.


Empowering teams and recognizing diverse traits

The panelists underscored the importance of empowering staff to make their own decisions, fostering an environment where change is collaboratively embraced. This approach is crucial in breaking down barriers like the “it’s always been done this way” mindset.


The role of feminine traits in leadership

A key discussion point revolved around the perception of leadership traits as gendered. The panelists advocated for a shift in perspective, focusing on the strengths that traditionally feminine traits, like collaboration and emotional intelligence, bring to leadership. This approach challenges the stereotype that leadership requires predominantly masculine traits and highlights the need for more inclusive language and attitudes in professional settings.


Statistical insight: women in hospitality leadership

It's important to note that while there has been progress, women are still underrepresented in leadership roles in hospitality. According to a report by the Castell Project, women hold only 1 in 5 C-suite positions in the hospitality industry. However, this number is gradually increasing, indicating a positive trend towards more inclusive leadership.


Navigating the dynamic nature of leadership

The panel discussion at the networking event was not just about change in the abstract; it was a testament to the dynamic and evolving nature of leadership, particularly for women in hospitality. As we move forward, the insights shared by these influential women will serve as a beacon for organizations like Thynk, guiding us toward a more inclusive, adaptable, and innovative future. Remember, as Nelson Mandela said, “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” This learning mindset is what will drive us toward continual improvement and success.

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