Despite women making up more than 50% of the lodging workforce, few hold top management positions at hotels. Avani Hotels & Resorts is actively trying to change this, and want to recognize some of their most influential female leaders, sharing their insight about how this glass ceiling can finally be broken.
Bangkok, Thailand - Avani Hotels & Resorts recognised some of its most talented female leaders, explore their achievements and discover the way of thinking that powered their success.
Candice Selato, Resident Manager at Avani Gaborone Resort and Casino
Candice joined the Avani Gaborone Resort and Casino in August 2019 as Resident Manager and has shown her true tenacity during the past two years. She held various General Manager positions in Botswana before returning to the international stage with Minor Hotels in 2019. With a demonstrated history of working in the hospitality industry, Candice revealed the journey wasn’t easy and if she had to give another aspiring woman advice, it would be to put in the hours and find a mentor. “You must be prepared to work hard and find mentors for support and guidance. They will play a crucial role in helping you strategise, negotiate and provide you with a safe space to vent your frustrations.”
Candice shared that the hospitality industry has improved tremendously in terms of diversity. Her advice for any company that wishes to reduce gender bias is simple. “Companies need to establish goals and walk the talk. They need to bring their ideas to life and implement fair and inclusive policies and deliver on what they promise. There needs to be a standard where everyone, regardless of gender, receives the same treatment,” said Candice.
Chidchanok Pasinpong, General Manager at Avani Sukhumvit Bangkok
Chidchanok began her career in Food and Beverage with Banyan Tree Bangkok in 2004. She remained with the company until 2011 and moved to SO/Bangkok. She was promoted to General Manager at SO/Sofitel Hua Hin before taking the helm of Avani Sukhumvit Bangkok in May 2020 amidst the pandemic and successfully steered it to optimal profit post covid.
“Joining Avani Sukhumvit Bangkok when the hotel was still in semi-hibernation was a challenge. We had to innovate which is why we strive to bring elements that are missing in the neighborhood, such as an LGBTQIA+ party, which we organize every month. We need to answer to our guests’ needs while catering to the needs of the people living and working in the Onnut area,” said Chidchanok.
A critical thinker who believes in diversity, Chidchanok stresses the importance of self-acceptance and confidence. “It’s important to bring your true self to work and allow the diversity to encourage you to challenge the status quo and perform better,” said Chidchanok. “We must not get carried away by the term ‘gender diversity.’ While important, we must keep in mind that we don’t need more women just for the sake of ticking the box of having more women. What we need is more talented women suitable for different roles.”
Beatrice Ellis, General Manager at Avani+ Luang Prabang
Beatrice has more than 18 years of experience in the hospitality industry and started her career at Minor Hotel as an Executive Assistant Manager at Anantara Hoi An Resort. With high attention to detail and extensive experiences in Maldives and Vietnam, she was quickly appointed as General Manager at Avani Hai Phong Harbour View before joining Avani+ Luang Prabang. Beatrice explained that she owed her success to her innovation-first mindset. “When I was at Avani Hai Phong, we introduced successful quarterly wine dinners, which became extremely popular. Now that I have just recently moved to Avani+ Luang Prabang, we are looking to introduce more local products at the hotel. It’s important to try something new, no matter how small they are because even the smallest things can make a difference in customer experience,” said Beatrice.
A firm believer in self-development, Beatrice emphasized that believing in yourself is crucial no matter how things may look. “You shouldn’t change who you are, and you should always believe in yourself, even when the going gets tough.” When asked what companies can do to empower women in the workplace, her reply was simple. “Companies should develop anyone with a passion, regardless of their gender.”
Naowarat Arunkong, General Manager at Avani+ Hua Hin Resort
Naowarat joined Minor Hotels in 1999 and got her first General Manager posting with Anantara Hua Hin Resort in 2011. Most recently, she was Cluster General Manager for Avani Khon Kaen Hotel & Convention Centre and oversaw the opening of Avani Sukhumvit Bangkok. With decades of experience in the industry, Naowarat reminds aspiring women that success isn’t about gender. “I don’t think it matters whether you’re male or female. The important thing is to know what you’re talking about and know what you’re doing. Having good attention to detail is crucial and you need to push yourself hard even when no one else is pushing you.”
Passion is imperative in order to remain in the same industry for so long. Naowarat explains that her career can be extremely demanding, but there is always a silver lining. “I find happiness in seeing my team happy, whether it’s from better service charge or from talking to me. I have a deep connection with them, and this closeness allows us to think and communicate with a common goal. Building a strong team will make things significantly easier because you can’t go at it alone in this industry.”
Cindy Delhomel, Cluster General Manager at Avani Chaweng Samui Hotel & Beach Club
With a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, Cindy has always worked in the hospitality industry and joined Minor Hotel in 2014 as Director of Rooms for Avani Seychelles Barbarons before taking on management responsibilities that landed her as the General Manager for Avani+ Samui Resort. Now, Cindy’s keen eyes and “make things better” attitude is paving the way at Avani Chaweng Samui where she holds the title of Cluster General Manager.
With extensive industry experience, Cindy advises women who share similar aspirations to be optimistic. “Practice Resilience. Try to maintain a positive attitude and see failure as helpful feedback. It’s an ongoing practice but it makes you stronger and it makes you a fighter. Once you’re in a leadership role, don’t be bossy, rude, or condescending to demonstrate strength. The strongest leaders I know are inclusive, collaborative, kind and thoughtful.” Having said that, Cindy shared that the leadership team needs to hold themselves to a high standard. “Leadership teams are crucial in creating an environment where women can express themselves the same way men can without being judged.”