Business of Happiness

Business of Happiness

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KAREN SAW

DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

PARK AVENUE ROCHESTER

Women are more empowered now than ever before – and many are thriving in the Business of Happiness. This International Women’s Day, six female hotel leaders share how they have each found fulfilment and success in their chosen hotel career.

#PassionMadePossible #BizofHappiness #100AmbassadorsOfHappiness #Workforahotel

How long have you been in the hotel industry? I’ve been in the industry for about 29 years.

Can you tell us more about your role and what you do on a daily basis? As the Director of Operations, I oversee the day-to-day operations of the hotel, including Front Office, Housekeeping, Maintenance, and management of vendors and suppliers. Every morning, I have a morning briefing to prepare for the day and ensure that all departments are working smoothly in their daily duties. Sometimes key decisions have to be made on the spot which will require immediate coordination with the departments involved, re-allocate resources where needed to achieve our objectives.

I will also find opportunities to interact with the guests and find out more about their experience to ensure that their stay is going well. A lot of our focus is about adding a personal touch, and guests really appreciate that.

What’s the most fulfilling experience you’ve had in your career so far? It’s when I see a lot of guests returning to the hotel and they still remember me. When guests consider the hotel as their second home, it’s enough to make me feel fulfilled.

What does being a woman in the workplace today mean to you? It’s about having the courage and freedom to explore opportunities. When you have all of that, women can go pursue their goals and move forward towards their vision.

Do you think the industry empowers the women working in it? Yes, this industry gives opportunities to women like me and has led me to where I am right now. Traditionally, women are expected to stay at home to look after the family. Today, the hotel industry provides more opportunities to women to pursue their career and showcase their talent.

After working 2 years as a waitress with a hotel F&B outlet, I decided to make a career switch to be a Front Office Agent. I was then promoted to Guest Relations Executive and subsequently take on higher responsibility as a Duty Manager. With my passion and earnest in learning, I was given the opportunity to work in Front Office and housekeeping department concurrently. Subsequently, I was groomed to be Assistant Front Office Manager, Front Office Manager, Assistant Director of Operations and Director of Operations within 4 years. The great thing about the hotel industry is that if you work hard, there are plenty of opportunities for career advancement.

Overall, I see that whatever men can do, women can do it too.

Do you feel compelled to mentor your younger female colleagues? Yes, I will be most willing to mentor younger colleagues regardless male or female. To help the individual develop his or her potential, we provide cross-department transfers where they can grow in their career within the hotel. For example, one of our Customer Service Assistants expressed her interest to take on bigger responsibilities. So, she was given the opportunity to work in the Housekeeping department to take on a supervisory role. She has since performed well in her duties and is well-liked by her colleagues.

How do you balance your career and personal life? I try to go on vacation and spend quality time with my family twice a year. On weekends my family and I will have outdoor activities together.

Do you have a female role model you admire or look up to? Barbara Corcoran. She is a real estate investor in New York and she’s on the TV show ‘Shark Tank’. She encourages and provides opportunities to young, creative women and mentors them. She also invests in women’s businesses. I think that’s really empowering.

What advice would you give to women who want to work in the industry? Work hard to achieve your goals. Whatever opportunity is given to you, make the best of it and don’t let anything stop you from giving it a go.