In general, the higher you go up the professional ladder, the fewer women you’ll see in decision-making roles. But the hospitality industry is a different story, and GCH is a model for the right way to do things: nearly 50% of our general managers are women, which ensures we have a perfect balance at the executive level. Women also hold important positions at our headquarters in Berlin. We asked our female general managers how they built their careers so successfully.
Is there a ‘female’ management style?
63% of those surveyed agreed that there are differences in management styles. These are generally positive, with employees highlighting characteristics such as greater empathy, a team-oriented approach, positive reinforcement and a structured working method. Most of the survey participants are, looking back, very happy with their careers at GCH. Frequently mentioned were planning a good work-life balance, not neglecting family and personal goals, and being brave in climbing the ladder. Millennials and Gen Z professionals, in particular, would benefit from such an approach; they have already experienced these positive values during their development, which has helped them significantly in negotiating their career paths and becoming more confident.
‘Women in a man’s world should not lose their sense of self’ – Andrea Sudfeld, General Manager, Wyndham Berlin Excelsior Hotel
Andrea Sudfeld has successfully applied her leadership skills to the GCH Hotel Group as a general manager for more than 10 years. For the native Berliner, equality is not about gender but character: ‘The so-called weaker sex should actually be transforming its “weaknesses” into strengths,’ says Andrea. Strengths that Andrea consciously integrates into her management style and make her an exceptional leader include: empathy, her support of flat hierarchies and ability to create clear structures. Of course, in typical Berlin style, Andrea isn't afraid to share her opinions. One thing she’s learned to accept: ‘As a woman, if wear your opinion on your sleeve as well as your heart, people call you a feminist. For me, that's not an insult, it just means that – as a woman – you know how to stand your ground and assert yourself in the modern world.’ Her personal tip? A good network is truly a safety net – regardless of gender.
Five tips for a career in the hotel industry, for women from women
But what’s important to women in leadership positions – what tips do they have for their female colleagues? Here are their top five, empathy-driven how-tos:
1. ‘Perform well. Be authoritative, have well-versed arguments ready and have the courage to take the lead’
2. ‘Have a goal in mind that you are constantly working towards, even if obstacles periodically crop up’
3. ‘Don’t value your career over your family; instead, look for solutions that take both into account’
4. ‘Take a confident and goal-oriented approach, be willing to change and don't wait for people to come to you’
5. ‘Don't forget to live your life!’
We asked two more women to share their perspective on life as a woman in the hotel industry on the behalf of other female managers across all units at GCH:
‘You can’t let people walk over you as a woman’ – Ines Fourquet, F&B Manager, Radisson Blu Badischer Hof Hotel, Baden-Baden
At 37 years old, Ines has already led a fascinating life. A true adventurer, she spent four years at sea and ten years fulfilling various roles in Dubai before joining the GCH Hotel Group six months ago. Her experiences of different cultures have contributed significantly to her development as a leader. In male-dominated sectors and cultures, she learned how important it is to understand your profession from the bottom up and apply the ideals that you demand of others. Over the course of her career, the critique she most frequently received was that she was ‘too nice’ – a female phenomenon? Her hands-on attitude helped Ines turn this into a positive: she leads her 10-strong team with compassion and understanding, empathy and directness.
‘Women don't need to compete with men.’ – Cecilia Svane, Corporate Director of Marketing and Digital Promotion, GCH Hotel Group
Keeping up with all the latest digital trends, staying ahead of the market and pursuing a target-oriented career – Cecilia Svane stands for all this and more. She has lived and worked in Sweden, the US, Spain and Germany, and been active across all areas of digital marketing. Over the last 15 years, she gained extensive experience in online marketing, naturally with a focus on hospitality-related issues like revenue management, usability, conversion and booking engines. She has been working at the Berlin headquarters of the GCH Hotel Group since March 2016, where she runs the marketing department with great enthusiasm. Cecilia believes that women can do themselves a favour by assessing themselves and others without a ‘women first’ filter. ‘In today’s world, you need to be confident and make sure that competence and ambition decide your career path, not your sex.’
Show your strength – regardless of gender
We acknowledge and promote competence without differentiating between men and women. True equality of employees at the GCH Hotel Group is part of the company philosophy. Our leadership programme is one of many further development opportunities and a crucial part of how we promote staff. And this benefits more than just our general managers. We prepare our employees for senior management positions by providing in-depth, multi-disciplinary training. Our HR department will be happy to answer requests for information regarding career opportunities at GCH.
Editor: Christina Hahn