Over the last few years, The St Regis Abu Dhabi has been recognized for being one of the best performing hotels in the Middle East & Africa region in terms of Service, Market share, and branded guest experience. Since its opening in August 2013, the hotel has grown from strength to strength and this is notably down to some of its female leaders at the heart of the hotel’s team.
To mark the celebration of International Women’s Day, the St Regis Abu Dhabi recognizes some of their most inspiring female leaders, who are continuously driving the hotels success in a tough market by their leadership, passion, expertise and good old fashioned hard work.
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 as they know it 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 Sona 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, Sona 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, Sona drives the strategic direction & positioning, vision, creativity and robust PR execution to the hotel which contribute directly to positive business results for the hotel.
Sona shares she is a strong believer in coaching and mentoring those; “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 mind-sets 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 2 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
Zoe 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. Zoe 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.” Zoe explains. Zoe 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 prioritize 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
Fatima El Guesser started her career at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi in July 2013 as a Wedding Butler By October 2018 she has worked her way up to Account Director, Weddings within the Sales department at the hotel. Fatima is a great example of commitment, hard work and honesty. She believes being recognized 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. Fatima’s commitment has always enabled her to gain the trust of her superiors and guests, which is a contributing factor to her success. Weddings are a key part of the Hotels event strategy and a lot of hard work goes into organising our clients perfect day. The hours are sometimes un-social able and requires working mostly weekends so the role itself requires a lot of commitment. But with Commitment comes results. Having hosted 99 weddings in 2018, Fatima is ever keen to maintain her the Hotel’s reputation as the best wedding venue in Abu Dhabi. Building relationships with your clients is key in my job and this is something I really enjoy.
Fatima believes that just because you are the only female leader in the events & banqueting team 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.” Finally, she says “in order to get results dedication is key and I’m so proud to see the reputation the hotel has built in only 5 years as the most leading Luxury wedding Venue in Abu Dhabi.”
Anika De Jongh, Restaurant Manager, The Terrace on the Corniche
Anika is a great example of someone who has flourished at the St Regis Abu Dhabi. Anika started her career as an intern at Crystal Lounge in 2014. She has been promoted to Supervisory level the hotel’s at 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 Feb 2019. Anika is very proud to work at a restaurant that continuously is within the top 3 restaurants in Abu Dhabi on TripAdvisor.
When describing what Anika loves most about working at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Anika 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 take 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 and after working in 3 different continents and 4 different countries, in 2018 Daniela joined The St Regis Abu Dhabi as Assistant Guest Relations Manager and was recently promoted to Guest Relations Manager. Daniela truly believes in genuine service and states “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.” Daniela shares she is passionate about what she does and she sees her job not as a job but as an everyday adventure. Daniela continues: “The senior management believe in me and the atmosphere at the hotel make 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
Nora Boukad the hotel’s 28 year old Reservation Supervisor, joined the hotel in June 2018. As the newest member of the Reservations and Revenue Team, Nora’s role has been to oversee the team during the hotel’s integration to the new Marriott Systems. Nora arrived to the UAE in 2015 after working for a travel agency in Marrakesh Morocco. Nora enjoys the hospitality industry because it’s a very dynamic industry to be in. What Nora values most at The St Regis Abu Dhabi is the team spirit and good vibes within the office. Nora feels this is a happy place to work and be and that is most important as you spend majority of your time at work. Work colleagues have become friends in 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 and 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 hotels 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 are 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, Hajar 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. Hajar 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. Hajar’s passion is working with Chocolate and The St Regis is renowned for many of its extravagant sweet displays at its weddings, events and brunches. Hajar feels proud to be part of the team here as one of the 3 women in the kitchen out of the 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 Hajar 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 mentions “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 (8th March 2019), the hotel will be hosting an exclusive workshop event for up to 60 female participants on Sunday 3rd March 2019 in its prestigious Abu Dhabi Suite with the theme “Connecting Women Reaching New Heights”
For further information, please visit http://www.stregisabudhabi.com.
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