Interview with Maram Kokandi General Manager Park Inn By Radisson

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Maram Kokandi

A giant leap – First Saudi woman to become GM of a 5 Star Hotel.

  1. How would you define your professional journey so far?

My journey in hospitality was no accident. I started off my career as a spa coordinator before landing myself a job as a Sales Manager at a reputed 5-star hotel, another first for Saudi women in the kingdom.

When I was appointed as the first Saudi female general manager in the history of Saudi Arabia to head the Park Inn by Radisson in Jeddah by the Radisson Hotel Group, it was a milestone in my career and a remarkable success in the history of Saudi women.

 

This significant achievement means so much to me that words simply can’t describe; both personally and professionally. Looking back, I achieved it at a time when females were not as empowered in Saudi Arabia as they are today. Since then, many things have changed, and women have become so much stronger. Today I am tremendously proud to be part of this transition.

 

  1. What were the main challenges in reaching to this position?

A spectrum of challenges threw itself upon me during the time – from trying to shatter the glass ceiling being the first Saudi women in a male-dominated industry to challenging social and cultural norms.

Reaching a leadership position as a Saudi woman in Saudi Arabia today is much less challenging than it was yesterday, with the government’s efforts to support and empower women in the workplace.

 

  1. Why does hospitality industry attract you?

Firstly, hospitality runs in our blood. The Hijazi culture of Saudi Arabia is known for its hospitality.

Secondly, the hospitality industry is a people-oriented industry, which means it always includes socializing and meeting new people, from all walks of life. It gives you an opportunity to work in a diverse environment not only because of our international guest but also because of the multicultural work environment.

  1. What is your message to the other women in the hospitality business?

Even though we’ve seen an increasing number of women in the hospitality industry, the stereotype that males make better leaders still exist within Saudi Arabia. Therefore, my advice to other women in the industry is to believe they are no less talented than their male colleagues. You can make the leap if you’re passionate enough. You just have to believe in yourself, work hard and never stop trying.

 

  1. Tell us about the balanced leadership program that RHG launched and your role to empower women?

Radisson Hotel Group’s balanced leadership initiative, Women in Leadership” , was launched a few years back ahead of the global initiative with an aim to improve diversity and inclusion across the hotel group.

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