What is the biggest challenge you face as a woman?
The biggest challenge is keeping up. Our industry and the world is changing at a rapid pace, which is impacting the way people travel and what they expect from a travel experience. It’s important to ensure that time is balanced between running the day-to-day business and taking time to look forward and plan for the future, otherwise you will miss an opportunity.
What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
My advice would be to take time to ensure you are developing relationships within your own organization and within the industry. We cannot be successful alone and building a network of industry professionals provides a great foundation to use as a sounding board and to identify growth opportunities. This takes time and planning and is often overlooked.
How has the working environment changed over time for women in the industry?
A notable change is the increase of the pace within the industry, which is going to continue. The working environment is continuously evolving, especially with the impact of social media and digital technology. This is directly effecting how our guests and customers buy our product and interface with us. Emerging markets and the upcoming influx of travelers from these markets into the U.S. is also another great change. These travelers are going to want to stay with the brands that they know from home, which will have a meaningful effect on our business globally.
Where would you like to see the industry evolving with women in the industry in 10 years?
I hope to see people continuing to travel. At Starwood, we believe that “people want a better way to experience the world,” and we want to be a part of creating the new experience for our guests and travelers. As an industry, I hope to continue to see more women in senior level leadership roles in all areas of the business: operations, development, finance, etc.
Who has paved the way for you to get where you are today either inside or outside the industry?
There are far too many people to mention by name. My parents both worked while raising our family, and I grew up with a very strong work ethic. I was then fortunate to work for and with a number of great leaders who were willing to teach me and to take chances with me. My personal growth and development experiences have shaped how I think about supporting and developing people on my team. I always try to make time to ensure I am teaching others and helping them strengthen their skills.