Determined and passionate, they have not hesitated to leave their comfort zone to discover the world and its many riches. Committed, they are also committed to sharing their knowledge and advice with those around them.
You are both hotel managers. Do you think there are any difference, or advantage with leadership style as a woman in a male-dominated work environment
Véronique, General Manager Novotel London Tower Bridge: It's always difficult for teams to see the arrival of a new manager. It means new plans, ideas, goals and so on. You have to find the right way to get them on board and I've been lucky in having positive teams who are keen to learn.
For my part, I choose to be the woman I am in my everyday life: a determined perfectionist and, above all, passionate. I want to match my values and inspire my teams.
Séverine, General Manager of the Combo Mercure & Pullman at Sotchi (Russia): I don't think there are difference as women, we certainly encounter more challenges. But that's never stopped me from achieving my dreams!
Why did you want to work abroad? How does international mobility become a source of satisfaction in a career?
Véronique I wanted to develop my personality in a different way and be independent, proactive, take risks and dare to take up new challenges. This need to see the world has enabled me to build up a professional network encouraging me to advance which allows me to help the talented people around me.
Séverine: I wanted to advance abroad as I've always wanted to discover the world and its multiple riches. It offers an incomparable degree of open-mindedness and constant self-challenging as you have to get used to countries, customs, religions, laws etc.
In my view, it's an incredible treasure that's priceless.
You've remained loyal to AccorHotels… what motivates you day-to-day in this Group?
Véronique: I think AccorHotels is one of the hotel groups that questions and challenges itself the most. It's a group that takes risks and invests in its talents, allowing them great freedom of expression and freedom to act. For me it's very important that people have confidence in me, recognize my skills and offer me new challenges.
Séverine: I've been lucky enough to develop my career with AccorHotels since 1999! I've remained loyal to it thanks to the support of the teams. It also gives me the opportunity to travel, discover other areas of the world and participate in numerous challenges that motivate me in my everyday life.
Why have you chosen to change AccorHotels brands regularly?
Véronique: I've been lucky to work for different brands in many countries. I've been able to take part in hotel openings, product transformations, developing teams etc.
Each brand, each hotel and each market is different.
We've all got different affinities, depending on our personalities, but I don't regard any one brand as more or less interesting than another.
Séverine: It's actually a not-inconsiderable advantage to be familiar with all (or nearly all) the brands in the Group. It gives you an overall view of what AccorHotels has to offer. And it enhances my portfolio!
Séverine, from Russia to the Czech Republic via Indonesia… Such different countries, languages and cultures. How did the adjustment process go?
It went really well! I think you have to be ready to leave your country. Once you're mentally prepared, everything does OK. Leaving for Indonesia took me two years: it was a project to which I gave a lot of thought as it involved setting off to the other side of the world. Knowing that I'd never set foot in Asia was a big challenge. But challenges are what motivates me! Discovering the unknown takes me out of my comfort zone and is exactly what I'm looking for.
Véronique, you've also got a very impressive career path! Would you say that women have the same place in society in each of these regions?
Véronique: No, unfortunately that is not the case. Many employers, marked by a patriarchal mentality and practices inherited from the past continue to act as if a woman's salary is just a bit of an addition to the household budget.
Inequalities between men and women are decreasing in certain countries but equality is still far from being achieved and there is a great contrast in the situation from one country to another. In addition, inequalities widen with age, sometimes linked to motherhood. Young mothers are penalized in terms of their career progression and remuneration, especially if they take parental leave.
Where would you say it has been hardest to "assert yourself"?
Véronique: Honestly, I'd say Russia… but definitely not with the teams!
Handling a combined Pullman/Mercure opening in a patriarchal society where there's a language barrier; the pressure of the Olympic Games and everything in a management contract…. That was a huge challenge! 3 intense years but which now represent my most rewarding experience from a professional and personal point of view.
Séverine, what do you think of the Group's commitment to the "HeforShe" movement?
Séverine: I'm very proud to promote this movement at my scale. We need more women in positions of responsibility. We may have a different view of things but we're just as capable as men.
Véronique, you're very active in the mentoring programs and handing on of knowledge … Have you got any training situations of which you're particularly proud?
Véronique: I was lucky enough to have a mentor for a number of years. That changed a lot of things in my approach to leadership and enabled me to take a step back to see the bigger picture, go beyond my limits and overcome my resistance. So, it's important to me to be able to give back what I received all those years…
I'm always extremely proud when I see talents accepting new challenges and asking a lot of themselves. When I receive messages of encouragement and gratitude, I realize that it is worth continuing.