As part of our continuing coverage of Women Leading Travel & Hospitality’s recent release of its first annual Top Women in Travel & Hospitality report, which features women leaders who continuously showed resiliency, perseverance and grit through challenging times during the past year, we wanted to profile leaders in select industry verticals. Today we spotlight women leaders at hotel chains, including Sara Glenn, senior vice president, operations, Canada, Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico, AccorHotels; Stephanie Linnartz, group president, consumer operations, technology and emerging businesses, Marriott International; and Amy Martin Ziegenfuss, vice president, global brand marketing, media, insights and performance, Hilton.
Honorees were chosen by the Women Leading Travel & Hospitality editorial team based on several criteria, including position within their organization, scope of responsibility within that position, career achievements, and involvement within the travel and hospitality industry.
Here are select excerpts from the interviews we conducted with Glenn, Linnartz, and Ziegenfuss.
WLT&H: Who is a woman leader that you admire, and why?
SG: There’s not one woman leader, but many — Katie Taylor, Roz Winegrad, Peggy Berg, to name a few — and of course our own CEO in North and Central America, Heather McCrory. There are so many great women in this industry, and leaders in general, not just women. It takes a village — you learn different things from different people. It’s also important to remember that as women, though it’s critical that we have strong female leaders to follow, your career path isn’t only going to be helped by women alone. Your career is an integrated, cohesive, blended, inclusive mosaic, where each piece brings something different to the table. I’ve been fortunate to follow strong leaders and serve on strong leadership teams that are as diverse as they are talented. I want the village, the unique perspectives, the debate — it’s all valuable, and I’ve learned from it all. That’s how you grow and develop, and grow and develop others.
SL: I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by strong women throughout my life, starting with my mother, who raised six children and fostered in me a strong work ethic, a deep sense of loyalty, and a natural competitive streak — all of which have served me well professionally. Throughout my career at Marriott, I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing women, both within the company and externally, who have helped me to learn and grow. I’m also inspired by female pioneers who have set the stage for women Today, such as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She has inspired me on so many levels — from her commitment to public service to the way she and her husband balanced careers and raising children. Although she’s no longer with us, Justice Ginsburg leaves a legacy for generations of women. Because of her more young girls will grow up knowing that they, to quote Justice Ginsburg, “belong in all places where decisions are being made.”
AMZ: The woman leader that I’ve admired most recently is actually pandemic-inspired. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has led her country through the pandemic with swift action, compassion and fortitude. In doing so, she has kept her people safe and the economy as protected as possible. She also had a baby while she’s been PM, and is one of very few women to do so while in such a high office. I think she’s a fantastic role model for women the world over.
WLT&H: What advice would you like to share with the next generation of women leaders?
AMZ: I love the quote “We rise by lifting others,” attributed to Robert Ingersoll. In my early career, I never thought someone else had to lose so that I could win, but I did feel like I had to compete sometimes. Now I believe that you create opportunity by lifting up your fellow female leaders. This approach creates opportunities for everyone and in turn creates an environment in which people want to work and help others succeed.
SL: Take risks. I like to tell women leaders when an opportunity comes up to lead a big, complicated project — the type of initiative no one wants to take on because it’s complicated or has been tried before without success — raise your hand. Yes, it’s a risk to tackle a tough project, but there’s so much good that can come from that opportunity. Not only will you set yourself apart in terms of your willingness to be bold, but if you succeed, you’ll be a hero. And even if you don’t, your personal stock likely won’t plummet. Playing it safe is the easier strategy to be sure, but it rarely lands you in the corner office.
SG: I have a lot of opportunities to share advice and insights with the next generation of women leaders through RiiSE, Accor’s international network promoting gender equality and diversity. My advice is always the same: you have to put your hand up. You have to make your own way. And as you’re going through that process, you have to own your seat at the table. The path we take is ours, not anyone else’s. Because it’s yours and yours alone, you have to put your hand up, as opposed to waiting for someone to pick you.
To read the full interviews with Glenn, Linnartz, and Martin Ziegenfuss, download the 2021 Top Women in Travel & Hospitality report today.