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Talking career progression in hospitality on International Women’s Day

Posted by Glennise Pinili on Mar 8, 2018 8:36:00 AM

This year the theme for International Women’s Day is “Press for Progress”. It asks our community to come together and continue the movement of working towards gender parity, which already has strong momentum. Any step of progress, so long as it’s in the right direction leads us closer to gender equality.

Although sexual harassment is a hot topic, with the #TimesUp and #MeToo campaigns attracting significant social media attention, progress for gender equality can take various forms.

The freedom women have to choose their career, rather than be expected to fulfil a gender-based career is progress. Women returning to their careers after motherhood, or even prioritizing their career is progress - things that at a previous time were not possible.  

In the hospitality industry there are already leading women who demonstrate that you can progress towards a powerful career.

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Button_Harassment-free_workplace_CTAWomen can become top chefs (Clare Smith, Cristeta Comerford), cookbook authors (Donna Hay, Ina Garten), TV personalities (Nigella Lawson), food publishers (Christina Grdovic, Pamela Drucker Mann), wine producers (Madame Clicquot) and anything in between. The sky is the limit.

In celebration of International Women’s Day and career progression in hospitality, we chatted to various leading women working in hospitality, (including our clients) and asked them for their answers to this question,

"If you could give one piece of advice to
females starting out in the hospitality
industry, what would it be?" 

Jennifer Mansour - Marketing Process & Improvement Manager (Clay Restaurant)

Jennifer Mansour_200x200.png"Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Before I entered the hospitality industry, I was working in a corporate world that dealt with business-to-business operations.

My work was solely in front of a computer, so there wasn’t much need for me to go and “explore”. As I moved into the hospitality industry as a business development manager, I quickly realized that I wouldn’t see results unless I was really on the floor.

I asked a lot of questions, bought a lot of books, spent weeks in the kitchen and months on the floor in order to really get a feel for what can be improved and how. This is what allowed me to gain credibility among my peers and eventually take part in executive decisions.

If you’re starting out as a runner, don’t be restricted to your job description. Ask questions, experiment new things, and enjoy your hike up that ladder!" 

Tawnya Bahr - Food Consultant (Straight to the Source) 

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"You don't have to know everything, you just need to be willing and able to learn.  I advise approaching the industry with a positive attitude, be open to new experiences and be resilient in the face of failure and criticism." 


Sarah Newman - Strategic Relationships Director (Irish Pubs Global Federation) 

Sarah Newman.png"I believe strongly in work experience, if you want to work in the most famous of workplaces in the world, that’s great, but do not underestimate the hard work ethics in all other establishments.

Work in a fast food restaurant or a huge bar and see what other pressures are out there, learn from everyone and then pick your chosen location / venue. Learn and watch as much as you can online, there are always new ideas / innovators, industry disruptors and then of course the old fashioned mentors, learn something from them all.

Ask questions and if you see yourself a s a future leader, then lead, and pass on your experience to those who chose to follow you." 

Amanda Kelly Lennon – Editor (Australian Womens Weekly Food Magazine)

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"Follow your passion and what makes you happy. Believe in yourself, be strong and back yourself. Don’t be put off by pressure or hard work-we all have to go through the tough times to get to the holiday island dream."


Ines Stuer – Staff Administrator (Transport Hotel)

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"Customers, executive Chefs, restaurant reviewers and restaurant Managers are normal people, don’t be intimidated and don’t be shy to ask for help or advice. Willingness, an interest to learn and manners will win you many fans."


Kate Edwards – Hospitality Consultant (Kate Edwards Consulting) 

Kate Edwards_200x200.png"When you’re starting out be a sponge: identify the managers and leaders whose style you admire and analyze what they each do to get results. Watch how they carry themselves, what words they use and how they command respect.

Notice how the team responds and how the manager inspires and motivates them as a group. Conversely, take note of the managers who don’t resonate with you. What are they doing that makes you think they are ineffective?

Constantly observe and analyze these leaders’ actions and decisions. You will learn great lessons in what to do and what not to do as you progress in your career.  And down the line these examples will help you make sound decisions, as you become a successful leader yourself." 

Sarah Maxwell – Group Humans Resources Manager (Solotel Group)

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"The one piece of advice I would give is to ask for exposure, be hungry to learn. It is about taking control of your own development and career by getting involved in as much of the business as possible.

This could include everything from asking more questions, requesting training, finding a mentor, to putting up your hand for opportunities even if you do not feel you have the skills for the role. 

Australia has arguably one of the most incredible food and beverage scenes in the world and it’s such an exciting time to be part of the industry. Each day is different so the learning is endless."

Ruth Langley - Hospitality Consultant (Ruth Langley Consulting)  

"Whatever role you’re doing, own it and do it to the absolute best of your ability. This goes to anyone in hospitality, not just females!

Ruth Langley_Bio.pngI think sometimes when you’re starting out in hospitality, especially if you’re starting in an entry level role, it’s hard to see the bigger picture and easy to think your role doesn’t make that much of an impact. And let’s face it, not all hospitality roles are that glamorous!

The thing with hospitality is it really is a whole team effort. It takes a lot of people doing a lot of things really well to make the magic happen for a customer. So, whether you’re washing dishes, waiting tables, managing a team, making cocktails, responding to online reviews or doing something else, how you choose to do your role actually does have a big impact on the customer, the team and the business.

Even if it’s not the most glamorous role or what you want to be doing in the future, own it and be awesome at it. Oh, and invest in a really comfy pair of shoes!"

No matter how you make a start in the hospitality industry, if you're passionate and keen to learn you're already half way to getting into your dream career. 


Learn more with our lesson on building a harassment-free workplace from Mike Ganino. Start now! 


You might also like: 

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How to respond to employee harassment claims

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Safe bars: initiatives against sexual violence

How to develop employee expectations in your restaurant.png

What are your employee expectations? 


Categories: Hospitality interview, Hospitality career advice

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