Business of Happiness

Business of Happiness

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SEREENA SUPA'AT

DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING

THE CAPITOL KEMPINSKI

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 working in the industry? Over 20 years now. I’ve been working in this industry since I graduated from college.

Tell us about your career journey. When I was 19, I first joined as a Secretary in a Business Centre at Mandarin Oriental. It required me to balance my tasks and priorities, which in turn trained my foundation in multitasking – something that comes in very handy as a career woman and recently a mother of three! But I was always inspired by the passion of the managers in the Sales team. So, when I was given the opportunity to join The Fullerton Hotel Singapore's opening team as a Sales Coordinator, I took it without a doubt.

After that, I rose through the ranks and never looked back. I really love being in this industry, I love the environment and the people I work with. I’ve never even thought about changing careers.

Tell us about your role and day-to-day duties. I am accountable for the finance and revenue of the hotel. I drive the marketing strategies, and ensure the positioning and branding of the hotel is maintained.

The nature of my job requires a lot of meetings, be it with the owners, corporate team, various departments or potential clients. As the head of the Sales and Marketing team, I need to keep myself updated on all matters within the department, and ensure my team members have the right support and proper training to carry out their roles. That’s why I also invest quite a considerable amount of time with my team as I want to understand their challenges and progress at work, and how we can improve our processes and find a solution to their problems.

What is the most fulfilling experience you’ve had? I was fortunate enough to be part of six ultra-luxurious hotel openings in Singapore, including St. Regis, Fullerton, Capella, Six Senses Duxton and Capitol Kempinski. They’re either independent properties or new to the market here. Bringing a new brand to the market always bring its own set of challenges as we have to build everything from scratch, be it our positioning, rates, communications or even potential clients' confidence in us. There are a lot of groundwork, research and discussions involved. Since you’re starting fresh, it’s about figuring out what story to tell. Our goal is to educate the guests and clients, to reach out to them and share great stories about the new brand.

What makes being part of the pre-opening for these new hotels interesting to me is that you get a chance to be creative, to think outside of the box. I like starting from a blank slate and coming up with ideas. Many of the pre-opening campaigns I’ve worked on focused on some heritage aspects of the hotel, so that adds another interesting element to the storytelling. It makes me very proud to be part of building these brands.

What does being a woman in the workplace today mean to you? There’s a difference between what men and women can do, when it comes to physical strength, for example. But I always believe in what we are capable of as women. Women should be confident in doing things our own way. We should be brave to dare and play to our strengths. Trust your instincts!

Do you think the industry empowers its women? Absolutely. Lately, we’re seeing a lot of female General Managers; this was unheard of years ago. It’s really wonderful to see that the industry is open to that now. I must also mention that in my entire career, I have never felt discriminated for being a woman. I’ve never felt like I’m being treated differently – not even when I’m pregnant.

How do you build your career and your family at the same time? I have a very supportive husband who has been very helpful. I work long hours but when I get home, I only focus on the family. Being a mother of three has taught me to be softer and more compassionate. It’s taught me how to really listen and understand my team’s problems at work. I strive to be the best I can be both at home and at work.

Do you have a female role model? My greatest inspiration is my mum. She was a housewife but she was very connected to the outside world. From her, I learned about self-discipline and how to present myself, whether I am at home or at work.

What advice would you give to young women who want to join this industry? This industry is not about selling a product - It’s about dealing with humans, and their emotions and experiences. You also need to be resilient and organised. People expect a lot from you and you have to meet those expectations. But most of all, you need to be passionate. And don’t be afraid to fail. Most of all, enjoy what you do. As the saying goes, work is never work if you enjoy it.