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4 Female Marriott GMs Reflect on International Women's Day 2021

March 8, 2021

To recognize International Women’s Day in 2021, Meetings Today reached out to Marriott International to gain the perspective of four female general managers of major Marriott-brand properties. Following are their responses.

Happy International Women’s Day, and let’s all continue to support women in leadership roles in the meetings and hospitality industries and beyond!

Christine Devers
Christine Devers, Renaissance New York Times Square, W Times Square and W Union Square

Christine Devers
Complex General Manager
Renaissance New York Times Square, W Times Square and W Union Square

How has the hospitality industry changed in terms of leadership for women since you began your career?
Women certainly have a larger leadership presence in our industry. When I started my career, there were very few women leaders in the highest leadership roles of the company. Thirty years later, it is so wonderful and heartwarming to see that there are so many women general managers across various hospitality brands.

What advice would you give women just starting out in the hospitality industry? 
Don’t be afraid to take risks. Have the confidence to go after what you want and are looking to achieve. I often say, “If you don’t go for it, you will never know what you are truly capable of achieving.”

What can the hospitality industry do to improve career possibilities for women?  
Women often manage more than just their jobs. They must have the flexibility to keep juggling all the tasks they have on their plate at any given time. This has proved to be particularly important over the last 12 months, given the state of the industry, where many working mothers have had to balance limited childcare options coupled with homeschooling, all while continuing to run their hotel operation. As a result, it has forced us all to think differently on what our idea of success looks like. I truly try to lead by example and demonstrate to women that you can have it all. 
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Choose to Challenge.” From challenge comes change and I couldn’t agree more.

[Related: IWD 2019: Marriott’s Women GMs Excel]

Kristen Pryor General Manager The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa Avon, Vail Valley

Kristen Pryor, The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa Avon, Vail Valley

Kristen Pryor
General Manager
The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa Avon, Vail Valley

How has the hospitality industry changed in terms of leadership for women since you began your career?
In today’s hospitality industry, we certainly have more women role models to look to than when I began my career more than 20 years ago. At The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa Avon, Vail Valley, our executive team is comprised of more than 60% women and our management team is 50% women. We believe in building one another up to be the best we can be.

What advice would you give women just starting out in the hospitality industry?
Align yourself with mentors who believe in you and seek out positive work environments that support your values. 
This is a fantastic industry that offers many different opportunities for career advancement, if that is what you are looking for. It is a very interconnected industry—I have been fortunate to have strong women mentors to advise me along the way and I always try to offer the same guidance to others. 
I personally find it rewarding to know that we are creating unique experience for guests, helping families create traditions and sharing a place where people can come together to connect, celebrate and be inspired. This industry provides great opportunities to travel, but you can also settle down in a community, raise a family and still be successful.

What can the hospitality industry do to improve career possibilities for women?
I think flexibility is key. The hospitality industry is a 24/7 business, but it does create unique opportunities for women to still be able to achieve work-life balance.

Meredith Bottenfield General Manager Delta Hotels Virginia Beach Bayfront Suites
Meredith Bottenfield, Delta Hotels Virginia Beach Bayfront Suites

Meredith Bottenfield
General Manager
Delta Hotels Virginia Beach Bayfront Suites

How has the hospitality industry changed in terms of leadership for women since you began your career?
When I started my career in hospitality it was very rare to see a female general manager, especially in a full-service hotel. The diversity we see now is a welcome change and it has been amazing to see the evolution in the industry.

What advice would you give women just starting out in the hospitality industry?
Anything is possible! Set your goals and work hard to achieve them. There are so many brilliant women in hospitality and you will always be able to find a mentor who can help you grow through your career.

What can the hospitality industry do to improve career possibilities for women?
Things just like this—spotlighting real women in the industry.

Marion Harper Treskin, JW Marriott Parq Vancouver and the DOUGLAS, Autograph Collection
Marion Harper Treskin, JW Marriott Parq Vancouver and the DOUGLAS, Autograph Collection

Marion Harper Treskin
Dual General Manager
JW Marriott Parq Vancouver and the DOUGLAS, Autograph Collection 

How has the hospitality industry changed in terms of leadership for women since you began your career?
It’s been over 30 years since I joined the industry, and so much has changed. While there have always been women working in the industry, there were not many in senior leadership roles. 

Over the last decade, we have seen that change across most hotel brands. 
I believe there was always a feeling that women brought something different to the boardroom, and with this, there are many studies that show that businesses that embrace diversity and inclusion are more profitable. I feel that with this, women in leadership roles have become part of the formula for success for many businesses today.

What advice would you give women just starting out in the hospitality industry?
The hospitality industry is a great industry to diversify your skills and experience. In my career, I’ve had more than a dozen roles and each one has taught me something very different from the other. The key is to put up your hand for new opportunities, take a chance, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and you can and will accomplish more than you thought possible.

What can the hospitality industry do to improve career possibilities for women?
Continue to build a culture where men not only support but seek women in leadership roles. Recognize the need for flexible scheduling, job sharing and other ways to support women through different phases of life. Celebrate all the successes of teams that embrace diversity, the increased associate engagement, financial results and stakeholder relationships.

Related Podcast: Women in the White House

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About the author
Tyler Davidson | Editor, Vice President & Chief Content Director

Tyler Davidson has covered the travel trade for nearly 30 years. In his current role with Meetings Today, Tyler leads the editorial team on its mission to provide the best meetings content in the industry.