Are women gaining ground in management positions at luxury hotels ?

Despite the increasing development of major luxury hotels chains worldwide, with an ever growing workforce of professionals, few women hold top managerial positions. CPP-LUXURY.COM is looking at the reasons behind the choice of management chains to appoint predominantly male General Managers.

In an exclusive interview Ms Rebeca Selley, General Manager of Four Seasons Buenos Aires, one of the four General Managers at the 86 international properties of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts chain. Ms Selley has been with Four Seasons for 16 years arriving from her native country Mexico, where she was General Manager of Four Seasons Mexico City. Previously she was opening  Food and Beverage Director And just in case you want the order of where I have been: Mexico City, Chicago, Punta Mita, Prague, Buenos Aires/Carmelo, Punta Mita, Mexico City and Buenos Aires again.

CPP: Why do you think top management positions at most luxury hotels are predominantly filled by male professionals?

R.S.: I believe it is more difficult for women to find a balance between work and private life, especially in such a demanding profession in a top management position. In 16 years, I have done 7 moves , in different countries on three continents. It takes a life partner to understand my job and share my passion for travelling all over the world.

CPP:  Do you think owners prefer to deal with a male general manager?

R.S.:  My current position is the best reflection that this is not the case. The owner of Four Seasons Buenos Aires is from the United Arab Emirates and one would expect that they would prefer to deal with men, especially due to their culture. On the contrary, he has shared with me that he enjoys working with female managers in high ranking positions. But, there might be owners which have a specific preference for a male manager.

CPP: Which are the most important qualities that female managers have, over male managers?

R.S.: Women have a different ability to interact and motivate a team, being closer and better understanding their needs. Also, the attention for details and an eye for aesthetics play a very important part. It is not just a matter of design but making customers feel comfortable and feel that they are taken care of and I believe, women have that as part of our nature, since little girls.

CPP: Since your appointment 6 months ago, which are the most important changes you have implemented?

R.S.: I have instilled a much needed air of freshness throughout the hotel, improving motivation of staff and focusing a lot on finding new ways of doing things, product and service wise, as well as on the heart of the house.

CPP: Are the Americas different in regards to the approach to appointing women manager at luxury hotels ?

R.S. Definitely! As I have not worked in Asia, I can only base my response in my experience of living in North and South America, as well as in Europe. I think that in the United States and in Argentina there is a much more openness on having women at top management positions, still believe that in Mexico, this is not such a common practice. Argentina is one of the best examples, here we have a female President and among my colleagues at other major luxury hotels, there are two other female general managers.

CPP: Why do you think women are predominantly present in certain hotel departments such as Human Resources and Training?

R.S. Once again, I believe it has to do with our natural ability of taking care of people and looking after them in a genuine manner. In regards to training, I think that since little girls, we have always enjoyed the role of being the teacher and sharing what we know with others. Of course, this does not mean that men can also perform this duties and do them in a wonderful and caring way.

CPP: Which do you think are the predominant weakness of a female manager in hospitality ?

R.S.In my opinion, we can sometimes complicate things much more due to our lack of practicality. That is something that I definitely admire of men and there ability of closing a chapter, without going back to it, if it does not make sense any more