From housekeepers to senior management, women at the InterContinental in Landmark 72 are making strides - find out how we’re leading the way for female empowerment in Vietnam.
Vietnam is a country steeped in tradition while at the same time embracing modernity. Values of marriage, family, work and gender roles are embedded in our society and we at the Inter Continental Hanoi Landmark72, are integrating these ideas, to be progressive, empowering and meaningful to provide staff opportunities for career development. We are introducing initiatives to see Hanoi’s best and brightest succeed in a managerial environment that will have 50% men, and 50% women by 2025.
Cecilie Nguyen, our newly appointed Executive Assistant Manager, is a shining example of a powerful woman in charge, and a fierce supporter of her colleagues. Cecilie started her career from the Housekeeping department, learning what it takes to run the ‘behind the scenes’ environment. Cecilie explains that this is “the magic that you don’t see as a guest.”
From her hospitality training in Switzerland, Cecilie’s career exploded, working throughout each department of the hotel, having lived in: Maui, London, Miami, and Beijing, Macau and now back in Vietnam for the second time. With Vietnamese origins, but raised in Norway, Cecilie brings what she refers to as the ‘Viking spirit’ to her management philosophy. She explains that she has “two cultures”, continuing, “Vietnamese culture is about family values, so I strive for a good work/life balance for myself and my team. However, as a Norwegian, I’m very direct - there’s no beating around the bush with my male counterparts, and I don’t feel I have to prove myself more so than anyone else.”
This approach, along with her MBA experience has seen Cecilie become the first Vietnamese woman to take on this important role, working closely with Robbert Manussen, General Manager .Theirs is a relationship of complimentary ambition and focus, with Cecilie providing the hands-on detail within the Operations, and Robbert bringing the business savvy drive.
You’ll find these ‘hands-on’ details embedded throughout the InterContinental Hanoi Landmark 72, thanks to Cecilie. Her attention to detail has recently been embodied in her projects to provide kids’ amenities for family travellers in an environment that could otherwise be corporate. Cecilie explains that there’s a good reason to focus on the kids, “they’re our future guests,” she explains with a smile.
When handpicking and creating our team, we always look towards the future. Trang Nguyen, the Hotel Sommelier, is a shining example of the potential here within the hotel and restaurant. As a part of the IHG Future Leaders Program, Trang has the opportunity to go wherever she pleases within the company.
Ms. Trang Nguyen at Stellar Steakhouse – Asia’s Best Steakhouse
Inspired by Elena Broms, the InterContinental Hotels Group’s Regional Director for Restaurants and Bars in South East Asia and Korea, Trang is carving the way for herself and her young daughter. We see their shared enthusiasm and expertise for wines, and similar backgrounds in Operations, along with Trang’s own potential to be a leader. Trang that Elena inspires her because, “She, like me, is a single mother, but has worked hard to reach the top.”
Ms. Hanh Ngo – Director of Human Resources InterContinental Hanoi Landmark72
Ms. Hanh, Director of Human Resources, works hard to develop equal opportunities within the InterContinental Hanoi Landmark72 Hotel. She championed several CSR projects, including the IHG Giving for Good Month – an initiative where all IHG hotels in the world join force every September to participate in charitable and well-being activities.
Ms. Hanh also drives the hotel two years in a row to partner with Diversey Vietnam in the “Soap for Hope” and “Linen for Life” projects, where the hotel donates used soap and linen discard to recycle into everyday necessities for disadvantaged families. On the topic of female empowerment, Ms. Hanh tells us that each job requires a specific personality. She explains, however, that, “there is no difference in empowering gender; we want to ensure everyone reaches their potential with the right leadership.”
We believe that the best results are found in the investment and empowerment of people. Ms. Huong, the Director of Finance, shares her recipe for a happy team, who consistently scores a perfect 100% on the company’s bi-annual Employee Engagement survey. “I am very open and transparent with my team, offering them the support that they need and push them forward if they’ve expressed their desire to be developed further.”
Ms. Mai Huong – Director of Finance
Stereotypically, people believe her role is often male dominated, but through her refusal to stop learning, Ms. Huong worked her way to the top. This is a mentality that Ms. Huong instils in every employee, to be open, honest, and hard-working. Many have said that Ms. Huong has a “magic hand” in developing her team, especially female potentials, nurturing the Credit Manager from line staff, and two female Chief Accountants since opening.
When it comes to everyday empowerment in the workplace, Huong Nguyen, the 3 Spoons dimsum chef, is a shining example. A rising star within our culinary scene, Huong states that, at 3 Spoons, she’s able to be more than just a ‘cook’. “My direct supervisor allowed me to add my input into the Chinese menu of 3 Spoons when it was being revamped,” Huong explains. “He gave me the task of researching for new dim sum menu, and empowered me to be creative instead of conventional. That gave me a boost of confidence because I was no longer just a “do-er”, but contributed to the bigger process as well.”
3 Spoons’ Sous Chef – Ms. Thu Huong is the one to directly curated the restaurant’s delicious dimsum selection
The magic that brings the InterContinental team together is not one of male or female power, but a combination of the two. Our members support one another, and through our initiatives, and day-to-day activities, we’re able to create the best opportunities for all of our employees.
Cecilie concluded her interview by explaining her recent trip to Nepal. “Whilst going through a brutal climb, I realised the Sherpa wasn’t just my guide,” she explains. “But he had my life in his hands. That’s how I feel with my team. I need to guide them along the correct path.”