• 12/03/2021

Women in the Hotel industry

7 minutes

Montreal centre-ville

Montreal centre-ville

  • © Hôtel Germain Montréal
Montréal centre-ville has decided to give a voice to women entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, hotel managers and business owners throughout the month of March. To give a voice to these women who contribute every day to the dynamism of our metropolis and our downtown.

Eve Paré, Chief Executive Officer of the Hotel Association of Greater Montréal, shared with us her vision, her opinion about the contribution and the representation of women.

Interview

In a study published in December 2020 by le Conseil du statut de la femme, « Québécoises : édition 2020 Femmes et Économie », it is shown that 55% of the workforce in the accommodation and food services sector is made up of women. Could the accommodation sector be more equal?

Eve Paré : Today, the hotel industry is more inclusive and gives more opportunities to young managers, women, people from diverse backgrounds. In 2013, when I was named Chief Executive Officer of the Hotel Association of Greater Montréal, my mandate was to promote inclusion and give a voice to this young generation. However, although there are more and more women in the hotel sector, it is above all the so-called “floor staff” that are predominantly female. As for decision-making positions, there is still work to be done to achieve a real parity, but we are on the right track!

Before working in the hospitality industry, you were an economist by training and worked in several other industries. How and why did you choose the hotel industry and its representation in 2013?

My training in economics allowed me to develop a real analytical mind; being an economist means having a 360-degree analysis of certain issues, knowing the arguments for and against and how to use them. I quickly realized that what interested me the most was influence and advocacy: how to influence a government in its decision-making process? This is why I turned to the representation of interests, particularly in the area of residential construction and negotiations for the renewal of collective agreements. I then worked in Ottawa with the Dairy Farmers of Canada. It was a great school!
These are, however, difficult industries that have experienced many crises. So in 2013, I wanted to turn to the hotel sector which, for me, represents hospitality, human warmth and pleasure! I will say that my trade union years in agricultural circles prepared me for the crisis we are currently facing.

As a woman, have you ever encountered obstacles or difficulties in your professional career?

I’ve never encountered one! In fact, I never accepted that being a woman was a barrier. I have often worked in men’s circles and got accepted as a woman because I played by the same rules. It does, however, require a personal investment, such as agreeing to stay perhaps later when there are negotiations or situations that require working outside of office hours. I didn’t encounter any obstacles and I didn’t have any difficulties, but that doesn’t mean that it is the case for all women!
It is certain that there are more challenges for women, especially with work-family balance. Even though there is more and more change, the responsibility for children still lies with women. A woman who has to pick up her children will participate less during the hours outside the office and may miss some opportunities. It is often informal situations that create and forge links and promote networking.

What are the strengths of women in the hospitality industry in your opinion?

The hospitality industry aims to share the human warmth of Montrealers. Women have this quality, they have a particular concern for their team and this has been seen many times during this crisis. We have seen a lot of initiatives being put in place at the start of the crisis to offer help, out of concern for their teams. Overall, I would add that the hospitality industry gives back a lot to the community.

Who are the women in the industry whom you would like to highlight and emphasize their contribution?

Chantal Riopel from the Delta Montreal Hotel by Marriott who has an exceptional career and who is at the head of one of the largest hotels downtown! I also think of Christina Poon, also an amazing woman who runs a hotel that has just been renovated, the W Montreal Hotel. Marie Pier Germain, who is Vice President of Marketing for Hôtels Germain and who also has an inspiring background; she has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and has mastered five languages. She has made her place in the industry!

How do you think the representation of women in certain key economic sectors could be improved and further promoted?

I would say that women should trust themselves more! They are their own worst enemies; they put up barriers unnecessarily and doubt themselves, when most of the time, they are very competent but don’t dare! You have to have the attitude. Skills are learned over time, but attitude is how to persuade someone and create opportunities for yourself! Go for it girls! Be confident! And I welcome initiatives such as L’Effet A that helps to build confidence in women. Perhaps these are the mentoring and coaching programs in which we should invest more.

Eve Paré, présidente et directrice générale de l'AHGM
Trained in economics (UQAM), international administration (ENAP) and social responsibility of organizations (UQAM), Eve Paré began her career in the early 2000s, as an economist, where she participated in particular in negotiations leading to the renewal of the collective agreement in the residential construction sector. She, then, continued her journey with the Dairy Farmers of Canada (2004-2007) and then with the pig farmers of Quebec (2007-2013) where she played a central role in the reconciliation between producers and slaughterhouses. but also in the repositioning of Quebec pork as a more sustainable production.

In 2013, Eve joined the Hotel Association of Greater Montreal (AHGM) as Chief Executive Officer. Since her arrival, Eve Paré has increased services to members and activities of the AHGM, accentuating the vitality of the association and the strong cohesion between the players in the Montreal hotel industry.

« Over the years, I have noticed on several occasions that women adopt a style of leadership that is caring, inclusive, understanding, humane but at the same time demanding. Five important features in the hotel industry. Given the challenge of achieving a work-life balance, I would say that women push teams to take more responsibility quickly. You have to be well surrounded and have a strong team at work and at home. One wish for the future is to see more young women choosing leadership positions in the hotel industry because to try it is to adopt it ! » – Chantal Riopel

Chantal Riopel, directrice générale de l'Hôtel Delta Montréal par Marriott
Chantal Riopel, directrice générale de l'Hôtel Delta Montréal par Marriott

Chantal Riopel knows the Montreal touristic industry very well, she began her career at the Centre Sheraton Montréal in 2006 as Director of Revenue. It was under her leadership that the hotel received several prizes and she also received the title of Director of Revenue of the Year in 2010. She became the head of the Delta Montreal Hotel by Marriott, located on the Président-Kennedy avenue, in 2018.  Chantal is also very committed to downtown, its influence and its vitality, since she currently sits on the board of directors of Montréal centre-ville.

Christina Poon
Christina Poon

 

« It is essential to lead by example and demonstrate the success of women in various roles within an organization. Fortunately, times are changing and although we are not yet at parity, several talented women are currently making their way into the senior management teams in the Montreal hotel industry.

At W Montreal, over 60% of our management team is made up of women. We recognize talent and good management. We do not distinguish excellence by gender, although we do realize that diversity of ideas and approaches is vital for a successful workplace. By having both women and men in leadership, we receive a valuable mix of perspective in the areas of collaboration, communication and management style, which helps us overcome obstacles and take well-balanced decisions. » – Christina Poon

 

In 2017, after more than fifteen years of experience in the hotel industry, Christina Poon took over the management of the W Montreal hotel located at 901 Square Victoria. Before taking over the management of the luxurious W Montreal hotel, Christina was President and General Manager of EVO Residences, located in Old Montreal.
From 2014 to 2017, Christina Poon sat on the board of directors of Montréal centre-ville but also on the Fondation de la mode de Montréal. Today she is a committed member of the board of directors of the Hotel Association of the Greater Montréal.

« When it comes to female leadership, especially in business, women in leadership positions were rather rare if we look back 20 years ago.

At Germain Hotels, we have always made it a point of honor to favor women aspiring to managerial roles, and this from the beginning, by offering a business model where to co-presidency is shared between a brother and his sister. The example was a good example, since today at Germain Hotels, more than half of the management positions in our establishments and our service centers are held by women. It is this balancing exercice between several visions that makes the company successful.

We also offer in-house leadership training to support our managers in developing their potential, and having benefited from it myself, I know how much this type of training can help to develop skills as a leader, and can encourage women aspiring to management positions to gain self-confidence and to take their place.

We must therefore train, educate, support, give a chance to women, who often demonstrate a more inclusive, a more conscious and a more human leadership. As such, I am convinced that female leadership is a major asset in an industry like ours, for which people are at the heart of concerns. In short, ladies, trust yourself, we need you to keep this sense of the human that makes all the difference in the word hospitality » – Marie Pier Germain

Marie Pier Germain, vice-présidente marketing des Hôtels Germain
Marie Pier Germain, vice-présidente marketing des Hôtels Germain

Marie Pier Germain has been an active member of the Hôtels Germain family business since 2006. In fact, she began her career in the hotel industry during the construction of the real estate complex of Hotel Le Germain in Calgary as service manager of office space rental and senior advisor to the residential sales team.
In 2016, she became the General Manager of the Alt Hotel Montreal. Now as Vice President of Marketing, she manages several establishments located in the greater Montreal area. She is also Secretary-Treasurer on the board of directors of the Hotel Association of the Greater Montreal.

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