No gender barriers

These ladies demonstrate simply that capability earns recognition

THE BOSS

Youlia Khouri, Founder and CEO, Innov8 Events, Dubai
What are your responsibilities?
I am the CEO and co-founder, and lead the team that organises all of our events. I work closely with clients to provide what they want, source a range of suppliers and find sponsorships for corporate events, which I like to have a fund-raising aspect.

What brought you into this job?
I got into events almost by accident. I rescued Charlie the macaque and wanted to raise funds to build his enclosure in the protected forest. I organised my first event, Rumble in the Jungle, in 2012 and it was a huge success so it carried on from there.

Was gender misconception ever an issue for you?
I’m not convinced being a woman influences my performance (but) I quickly learned my strength and drive were received negatively: “She’s too strong”, or “She’s like a man”. These are qualities that enable me to excel. I’m sure if a man was in my place the same qualities would be praised as talents.

Cecilia Sanchez, Founder/CEO, Leverage International, Philippines
What are your responsibilities?
I am responsible for all day-to-day management decisions and for implementing our company’s short and long term plans. I make strategic decisions and balance our company’s resources of capital and people.

What brought you into this job?
It was my strong desire to sell the Philippines to the world while at the same time make money. Selling the Philippines while I was with the government was easy. But in the private sector, this was not always possible as there were some hard decisions that were difficult for one to relate to short-term objectives. That was why I decided to strike out on my own.

Was gender misconception ever an issue for you?  
Fortunately not. I guess it is because I do not make my male colleagues feel I am competing with them. I am very lucky to get cooperation and support from them for most of my projects.


THE HOTELIER

Rachael Harman, General manager, Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu
What are your responsibilities?
I am responsible for all aspects of the hotel operation, including guest and employee satisfaction, driving sales and branding initiatives, and achieving strong financial performance.

What brought you into this job?
I grew up in the hospitality industry so it was inevitable that I’d end up (here). My parents owned a wedding reception centre in Adelaide, so from a young age I helped my parents set up the ballroom and was involved in the kitchen and beverage service. I received a partial scholarship to study at the International College of Hotel Management in Adelaide which ignited my passion for the hotel industry and commitment to excellence.

Was gender misconception ever an issue for you?
When I started my career in hospitality, (female general managers are) almost unheard of. Throughout my career, I found mentors and sponsors who challenged me and offered advice and support to help me advance. I’m proud to be part of Marriott International as they are committed to supporting women associates and help them grow personally and professionally.


THE OPS JUGGLER

Jessica Wong, Director of venue operations, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management)
What are your responsibilities?
I lead a big team of over 360 people in different specialities covering housekeeping to safety & security. We have a track record of supporting numerous world-class events at the Centre.

What brought you into this job?
I first joined the housekeeping department of the company in 1989. My supervisors and I realised that I enjoyed and excelled in communicating with people and established good working relations with event organisers and contractors.

I was then transferred from a supporting department to a frontline role as an event manager in the event planning & coordination department in 2002, and then promoted to department head in 2011.

Was gender misconception ever an issue for you?
Never. In fact, male business partners, such as organisers and contractors, seem more patient when they talk to me than to male counterparts. I receive full respect from business partners, especially when they know I have an operation background.


THE VENUE EXPERT

Adrienne Readings, General manager, Gold Coast Convention and
Exhibition Centre
What are your responsibilities?
I have many stakeholders and delivering on KPIs relating to them is part of my overall responsibilities, but my key responsibility is to ensure my team is productive, happy, engaged and safe. If my team is happy, my clients are happy.

What brought you into this job?
I was general manager at Jupiters (now The Star, parent company of Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre) and have a background in business events. It was a natural progression to work with the design teams to ensure that when the Centre was developed it took into account our clients’ requests and preferences.

Afterwards, I didn’t want to go back into hotels. Conference and exhibitions is an exciting, innovative and changing industry and I believe I can add value.

Was gender misconception ever an issue for you?
Never. The only gender misconception has been with my name.


THE CATERER

Nike Wulandari, Cluster director of catering, Hotel Mulia Senayan, Jakarta and The Mulia, Bali
What are your responsibilities?
I perform several roles and work with colleagues across different departments. I coordinate catering requirements with customers and my banquet team, and am involved from the start of preparations to the end of the event. I meet regularly with banquet and catering staff to review arrangement for upcoming events, and makes sure all policies and safety regulations are abided. I am also responsible for the annual budget and business projections for the year ahead for both Mulia properties in Jakarta and Bali.

What brought you into this job?
I started as a catering sales executive, and worked my way up to a management position as sssistant director of catering.

Was gender misconception ever an issue for you?
Never.

 

This feature is part of TTGmice December 2017/January 2018’s cover story, Graceful powers

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