|Women, Want to Get to the Top? Here are Some Tips.|
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Friday, 11th May 2012
One message came out loud and clear at WITX-Women In Travel which was held in Bangkok last Friday – women have to put up their hands and be seen and heard if they want to rise to leadership positions in travel companies.
In the opening session, Jennie Chua (right), chief corporate officer of CapitaLand, said that the issue of gender had never been a factor in her career. The implication was clear – the minute you start to think of it, it becomes a handicap.
Chua, who rose to fame when she became general manager of the Raffles Hotel, also said it was the hotel “that made me” and as such, it was important to pick the right opportunity “that will make you”.
The “moment of truth” in her career came when, at 39, she decided to leave “government service” – she was with the then-Singapore Tourism Board – for the private sector, joining Westin at the time.
That decision opened up a new path for her which would eventually see her rise to CEO of Raffles Hotels & Resorts and onto CapitaLand. Pretty inspiring, really, for a woman who made quite a late career switch.
Her best advice? “Don’t overstay.”
Louise Daley, CEO of Accor Advantage Plus, believes it’s not from a lack of oppportunity that there are few women in the top ranks of hotel companies, rather it’s “lack of visibility”.
She urged women to “put your hand up”. She said that often when a woman was offered an opportunity, she’d say no even if she had nine of 10 qualities needed to fulfill that role. Men, on the other hand, were more gung-ho and would say yes even if they only had five out of the 10 attributes.
She called on women to have a bigger risk appetite. She shared two learning points from a book she’s reading. “Boys compete, girls cooperate” and “Men are decisive, women are bossy.”
The first led to women being more collaborative and thus not wanting to display too much ambition and aggression. “It is ok, make ambition your friend,” she said, “it’s okay to be aggressive despite our natural tendency to nurture.”