International Women’s Day: Leadership in Hospitality


March 8, 2022 | By Zubina Ahmed

Every year, International Women’s Day is observed  on March 8. Women have constantly strived to find a footing and place for themselves in society and it’s a day to celebrate their empowerment, equality, strength and achievements.  There are many success stories that highlight their capability and contribution towards the world. We interviewed some women entrepreneurs who have successfully carved a niche for themselves in their respective fields.

Karolina Paliszewska, General Manager, Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection

Tell us all about your success journey as a woman in the hospitality business so far?

Having to have worked across the world in some of the most beautiful hotels, my journey has been no short of amazing! I joined the Warsaw Marriott Warsaw hotel in Poland as a Director of Events where I was responsible to have the entire conceptualization of the events. I moved to JW Bucharest Marriott in Romania as a part of pre-opening team and few years later moved to London Marriott West India  Quay hotel as a Director of Food & Beverages which further diversified my preview and vision to handle multiple restaurants in the hotel alongside shaping and conceptualizing individual identities of each outlet. I stepped into the Middle East in 2010. I came here as a Director of F&B with the Sofitel Jumeirah. Went back to Poland and moved along in senior roles before being appointed as a Hotel Manager with Hilton Al Habtoor City Complex. UAE and especially Dubai feels like home to refined hospitality professionals and I am extremely enjoying this journey. I joined the beautiful beachfront resort Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection as a General Manager in 2020, which has been an exhilarating experience. I look forward to further adding more experiences that our guests can enjoy in this paradise located in JBR.

What is the list of offerings from Habtoor Grand resort properties? 

The Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection  located in one of the most prominent address in Dubai – JBR secondly the resort has a private beach which is ideal for a short and a long escape. Being a family resort, we have an extensive activities that families and couples can enjoy together. Our activities include Water Zumba, scuba diving in the pool, tennis & squash courts, beach sports activities and a unique kids experience at the pool. We are one of the few properties that boast a fully functional Kids water slides and kids club with trained attendants. Apart from the massive popularity of the resort Internationally we have amazing offers for local residents which include tickets to La Perle. We also offer 14 food and beverage outlets catering from Italian, Mediterranean to International cuisines.

What are your comments on the region’s Hospitality sector?  What trends do you foresee and what priority areas can rewrite the rules of the industry for a better future?

UAE and especially Dubai is known for its hotels, restaurants and its warm hospitality. The UAE brings the world together as different cultures work together to deliver a seamless hospitality experience. More restaurant and hotel openings, only show the demand for the region to be able to accommodate more tourists, thereby elevating the hospitality industry further. The most upcoming trends for hotels and restaurants currently are going digital, from contact-less check-in experience to scanning QR codes to view food menus everything is being made digital and effortless. My team and I undergo regular training on hygiene and sanitization to ensure we deliver sanitized and safe spaces to our guests, who can enjoy their stay with us without worrying.  I foresee a trend towards digital ease to customers, we already see guests interacting with our associates on the digital platforms either brand developed or What’s app and sharing their concerns and requests.

With March being the Women’s day month, How are women entrepreneurs like you making their mark in the  ecosystem?

I believe Women have made an incredible impact, not only by adding to the workforce but the eco system as well. Women naturally are born with an instinct of attention to detail and look at a situation from a broader perspective. Being more vigilant towards day to day waste, using resources in a proper and scheduled time periods result in optimum yield with minimum inputs. My job as a General Manager is to ensure every department is using their resources wisely and providing the ultimate guest experience. Being a lady in leadership, I feel women are also gifted with a natural instinct of empathy. We are in hospitality and it is denoted by a touch of warmth from the associates towards our guests, I believe women can truly understand the concern of guests and associates and address them effectively.

Do you think if more women enter into businesses, the more value influence is created in the community? Is the ecosystem evolving, the mindsets are changing?

We have witnessed an increased workforce, especially senior positions occupied by women, which in itself is a great achievement. I strongly stand for women’s empowerment as women can make a true impact in diversifying the ecosystem and creating equal opportunities for everyone. Women in general have a tendency to look at a situation from all aspects, evaluating pros & cons and having that mindset is always a win for any particular business. Women are also seen as more nurturing mentors and they are able to bring an aspect of empathy towards their workforce, colleagues & partners enabling them to learn and lead.

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