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We still need more female leaders especially in India and South Asia: Kerrie Hannaford

Being well versed with Accor’s processes and systems in sales, marketing and distribution, Kerrie Hannaford, VP- commercial, Accor India & South Asia, strives to integrate and capitalise on the current team strengths to Accor in the best interest of their hotels network in India. In an interview with Akshay Nayak, Hannaford reiterates that the Indian hospitality industry still needs more female leaders

How has the hospitality industry changed over years in terms of inclusivity of women in leadership roles?
It has changed considerably since I started years ago. A female general manager was unheard of and the best a female executive could hope for would be an area or regional director of sales and marketing. Now we have women who are CEOs, SVPs & VPs of operations, finance, development, legal and commercial units – with global and country responsibilities. We still need more female leaders especially in India and South Asia.

Being VP Commercial, what challenges and opportunities do you face looking at such aclarge market?
Opportunities are boundless if you think definitely and behave with courage. Being part of Accor gives me global strength but also the autonomy and authority to act locally. One challenge to overcome is the vast size of the country and multiple cultures – to be able to respond quickly to changing markets in different regions. Also, responding to unanticipated setbacks like Coronavirus – we are lucky in some respect India has its own domestic economy – we hope to weather this global storm with national pride and Indian’s conducting business at home and supporting local business.

How do you manage work-life balance?
Like most new executives in their first 90 days, its hectic but then after if you plan well, life finds its rhythm again, you can start to balance work and home life. It’s important for me to switch off completely, recharge and then bounce back in again. It does require discipline though.

What steps have you considered to break the glass ceiling?
Be authentic and be you, have the courage to position yourself as a leader, do the hard stuff but always keep learning and step out of your comfort zone.

Your mantra to keep yourself motivated and empower more women to join the hospitality force.
Clichéd but my motivation comes when I see potential in people, that they can’t see, encourage them to do better, be better and then succeed. Most people have enormous talent they just don’t know how to harvest and harness it. Helping them do that is most rewarding – it’s like when your favourite team or player wins the World Cup, it is exhilarating.

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