The St Regis Abu Dhabi, an iconic hotel in the UAE capital, is marking the celebration of International Women’s Day (March 8) by honouring some of its most inspiring female leaders.
Moustafa Sakr, general manager, said: “As with most Middle East Hotels, a quarter of our staff are female, and at the St Regis Abu Dhabi we are a diverse group of people working together and proud of our talented female team. I am also proud to have a strong female leader on my hotel Executive Committee as well as talented, ambitious and passionate female leaders that drive our hotel business across all departments to deliver the successful results we have achieved over the last few years.”
“At The St Regis Abu Dhabi the results speak for itself and this is a great example of hard work and commitment our female colleagues at the hotel show. I strongly believe that when we encourage women to have the courage and confidence to actively use their leadership skills and expertise, we create a very sincere, trusted and balanced culture, with exemplary female leaders that inspire others at our hotel. As a management team, we actively encourage work-life balance at The St Regis Abu Dhabi for our associates and we have created a hotel environment I am confident all our associates can thrive in knowing there are endless possibilities for growth in the hospitality industry and beyond regardless of gender or background.”
As the first quarter of 2019 almost comes to a close, Work, life, family, friends, health – it seems a woman really has to be “Super Woman” to stay on top of it all. The dynamic women at the St Regis Abu Dhabi share their insights and own strategies on how they achieved success, work-life balance and thrive in their workplace with their contribution.
Sona Shah, director of marketing, executive committee member With over 13 years’ marketing experience and various hospitality marketing roles in London, Doha, Bahrain and now the UAE, British expatriate Shah joined the capital’s best address in February 2017. A valued leader and currently the only female member of the executive committee at the hotel, Shah leads the marketing department including the management of strategic planning, content development, digital landscape, events, brand activation, loyalty programs, public relations and advertising. With extensive regional experience, she drives the strategic direction and positioning, vision, creativity and robust PR execution to the hotel which contribute directly to positive business results for the hotel.
Shah shares she is a strong believer in coaching and mentoring. “Women face similar challenges when it comes to their careers across the globe. There are certain preconceptions from society that can be discouraging, though old mindsets are starting to disappear. I have been lucky to work with great mentors who have believed in me and promoted equal opportunities. I aim to lead by example as well in order to inspire others. The key is to wake up every morning with determination and go to bed with satisfaction of a job well done. What I love most about my job is that no two days are the same at The St Regis Abu Dhabi. You have to do what you love and love what you do; it all starts by setting yourself goals and defining what success means to you. Constantly look to learn new things, listen to guests, colleagues, management and owners feedback and always seek new solutions and strategies, while paving the way and helping others to grow to.”
Zoe Zkeri, director of spa Zkeri hails from Greece and joined The St. Regis Abu Dhabi originally as guest relation manager in June 2013 and was promoted to assistant director of spa and recreation in 2014. Zkeri believes passion and pride in what you do is key. “The St Regis brand has a legacy which makes me proud to talk about to every guest, as every element in the hotel has a story to tell. I’ve worked in hospitality for 18 years and in many different hotels, but going into work at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi excites me every day. Having this passion and pride makes it easy to naturally focus on the guest’s need and to make them feel passionate to spend time here too,” she explains. Zkeri strongly believes that “we all make each other better by listening, guiding and inspiring and by finding a work-life balance: Women tend to manage everything at the same time with the wish of full satisfaction, but we have to prioritise and allow ourselves to let some things go. When you work in a spa, you have to first maintain your own balance in order to make your guests feel welcomed and relaxed.”
Fatima El Guesser, account director – Weddings El Guesser started her career at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi in July 2013 as a wedding butler. By October 2018, she had worked her way up to account director, Weddings within the sales department at the hotel. El Guesser is a great example of commitment, hard work and honesty. She believes being recognised for her hard work through opportunities of growth, which in return keep her going to do what she enjoys is what success looks like to her. El Guesser’s commitment has always enabled her to gain the trust of her superiors and guests, which is a contributing factor to her success. Having hosted 99 weddings in 2018, El Guesser is ever keen to maintain the hotel’s reputation as the best wedding venue in Abu Dhabi. “Building relationships with clients is key in my job and this is something I really enjoy,” she said.
Fatima believes that just because you are the only female leader in the events & banqueting team doesn’t mean you cannot do the job just as well as a man. “Females have the unique gift of attention in detail and in my job details matter the most- it’s what makes us different from the competition.”
Anika De Jongh, restaurant manager, The Terrace on the Corniche De Jongh is a great example of someone who has flourished at the St Regis Abu Dhabi. De Jongh started her career as an intern at Crystal Lounge in 2014. She had been promoted to supervisory level at the Azura Lounge in 2015 and then transferred to The Terrace at the Corniche, where she was promoted to assistant restaurant manager in October 2017 and most recently restaurant manager in February 2019. De Jongh is very proud to work at a restaurant that is continuously within the top three restaurants in Abu Dhabi on TripAdvisor.
When describing what she loves most about working at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, De Jongh said: “I am very proud to work for the St Regis Abu Dhabi, with all of the achievements, the variety of clientele and its reputation in the capital. The senior management empowers me to make decisions, to be creative and to motivate others, which makes me confident that I can be a great leader to colleagues from a wide variety of diverse backgrounds and nationalities and we achieve great results together with the whole team.”
Daniela Flores, guest relations manager Originally from Mexico, Flores worked in three different continents and four different countries, before joining The St Regis Abu Dhabi as assistant guest relations manager in 2018. She was recently promoted to the role of guest relations manager.
Flores truly believes in genuine service. She said: “The St. Regis Abu Dhabi has given me the empowerment to create unforgettable experiences for our guests, building relationships and connecting with people from all around the world.” Flores is passionate about what she does and she sees her job not as a job but as an everyday adventure. She added: “The senior management believes in me and the atmosphere at the hotel makes me feel at home. Even though I’m far away, I’m able to be myself and I’m happy that I can combine my passion with my career aspiration. It has been a wonderful journey and I’m very proud to be part of the best hotel in Abu Dhabi.”
Nora Boukad, reservations supervisor Boukad, who joined the hotel in June 2018, is the newest member of the reservations and revenue team, Boukad’s role has been to oversee the team during the hotel’s integration to the new Marriott Systems. She arrived in the UAE in 2015 after working for a travel agency in Marrakesh, Morocco. She enjoys the hospitality industry because it’s a very dynamic industry to be in. What Boukad values most at The St Regis Abu Dhabi is the team spirit and good vibes within the office. “This is a happy place to work and be and that is most important as you spend a majority of your time at work. Work colleagues have become friends in a short space of time and this is really important to me. We support each other and that to me as a young woman with ambition is really inspiring. I am proud to lead not only other females but two young males in my team. So this for me is my first step to breaking the glass ceiling. My career ambition is to progress in my field and I am currently taking part in the hotel’s Essential Supervisory Skills Management training. The hotel has given me this great opportunity despite my gender or age. My boss is very supportive and allows me to try new things and empowers me to make my own decisions and this for me is key because it shows we have mutual trust. My family is proud of what I have achieved so far and I want to continue to make them proud by being a successful woman by balancing my career and my personal life and The St Regis Abu Dhabi allows me to do that well.”
Hajar Fassal, Junior sous chef Moroccan chef Fassal, who has been working in the UAE since 2008, was also part of the pre-opening team since 2013 and has since been promoted at the hotel to junior sous chef in the Pastry Kitchen. Fassal shares that what she loves most about working at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi is the team spirit that comes from a good mix of people that have become family regardless of their cultural background. Fassal’s passion is working with chocolate and St Regis is renowned for many of its extravagant sweet displays at its weddings, events and brunches. She feels proud to be part of the team as one of the three women in the kitchen out of a team of 14. She strongly believes that differences are actually what make the whole team successful. Having empowerment in the kitchen has always been important to Fassal and she believes this has been key to her achieving her goals. “It’s important to have a goal and never give up on that,” she says. “I do my best because I am motivated and valued, but most of all I am comfortable and respected here. What makes the difference is that I know my opinion and decision in my area is respected regardless of my gender.”
The St Regis Abu Dhabi is a proud equal opportunities employer and in 2018 alone promoted 23 of its female workforce to a higher position. Ahead of International Women’s Day (March 8), the hotel will be hosting an exclusive workshop event for up to 60 female participants on March 3 in the Abu Dhabi Suite with the theme “Connecting Women -Reaching New Heights”. – TradeArabia News Service