Today marks International Women’s Day and people around the globe are uniting together to fight for a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination against women. At YOTEL, we’re dedicated to supporting our female crew members and value and their unique contribution to the brand. We’ve caught up with a few of our crew members around the world to find out what it means to them to be a woman in the industry and what has inspired them to get where they are today -
Zaleena Bellinger - Senior Cabin Crew at YOTEL Washington DC
Nur Hidayu Awang - Hotel Manager at YOTELAIR Singapore Changi
Victoria Kachel - General Counsel at YOTEL HQ
Natalia Alexander - Director of Operations at YOTEL Washington DC
1. How long have you been with YOTEL and how would you describe what you do for the business today?
Zaleena - I have worked at this property since April 25 1988, as a Room Attendant. In that time, I’ve seen the hotel taken over by various brands and now YOTEL Washington DC. Housekeeping is a dirty job, but someone has to do it and luckily, I love what I do!
2. Tell us a little about how you got started and your journey to this point?
Hidayu - It was an impromptu journey. When I was first starting out, the hotel industry was THE industry as it was deemed to be fun, of good status and offer great career development. So, I started as a Front Office Agent and as the years passed, I got to see how passionate and enthusiastic my seniors were, it really inspired me. Along the way, I had the opportunity for more training and was groomed from Senior to Managerial level.
3. What lessons have you learnt along the way and what would you want to say to young women just starting out?
Zaleena - Try to balance work and play! Never work too hard and never play too hard.
4. What goes through your mind when you think of the women who joined the workforce before you?
Victoria - I feel I owe these women a lot. The role of women from primary caregiver and domestic only roles to the mainstream workplace was a slow and arduous process. Employment prospects were so slim for so many, not to mention the unequal treatment and pay. My grandmother always used to tell me stories of being one of a small number of women working in the civil service post-war, very different to today. Incredible trailblazers.
5. What is something you have done that has taken real courage?
Natalia - A few years ago I developed a passion for motorcycles and attempted to get my motorcycle license by taking the necessary classes to qualify. I was the only woman in the class. On my first day, I took too steep of a turn, causing the bike to fall on my ankle, severing most of my tendons, and had to be taken to the hospital. I was mortified. But I was determined to accomplish what I had set out to do, so a year later I bought a motorcycle and returned to class. The instructors said I was the only student to ever return after an injury. I eventually passed and got my license. While I am admittedly not the greatest rider, I am proud of myself for pursuing my goal, and being the only graduating woman in my class!
6. Which women inspire you?
Natalia - I am constantly inspired by a former manager and mentor of mine who has become my best friend. She has taught me to never allow anything to stand in the way of achieving anything I want out of life. I also admire my mom, for reaching the top of her career ladder when even today still less than 30% of top leaders in her field are women.
7. What do you think gave you the drive and determination to succeed?
Hidayu - The people around me drive me to succeed. When I see them pushing hard to come to work and do their daily routine, it makes me determined that I must put in the effort to do better and to help them progress.
8. Do you have a mantra you live by?
Zaleena - Do good and good will come to you! Help others for them, not for yourself, and always be genuine.
9. What is your favourite thing to do in the whole world?
Victoria - Spend time with my family in the snow. We love skiing, although I am already trying to keep up with my 6 year old!
10. Where is your favourite place in the world?
Natalia - My favorite place in the world is Greece. I was born in Washington, DC, but I spent my formative years growing up in Athens. So I consider Greece home. It’s the most beautiful country in the world!