Maram Kokani profile photoThe below was reproduced with permission from Inge Huijbrechts, Global Vice President Responsible Business for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. In it, Maram Kokani tells of her professional life as the first female General Manager in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Worldwide Hospitality Award winner 2017.

I have been very fortunate that my career in hospitality has been one where my professional achievements have not only given me great personal satisfaction but in many ways they have also had a broader positive impact on the hospitality industry. From early in my career when I was one of the first female hotel sales managers in Saudi Arabia, then to be awarded an international scholarship to study hospitality management and most recently to my proudest achievement, my appointment as the first Saudi female General Manager in the Hospitality industry worldwide. This historical milestone was made possible by the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group who appointed me as General Manager of a new Park Inn by Radisson hotel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, the company’s Balanced Leadership program has already made great progress, moving from six female employees in 2014 to 102 today, with 21 in leadership positions.

As in any life journey there have been challenges. When I first began working in hospitality there were even fewer women than now working in the industry and there were times when it was difficult as a woman working in a hotel. During this period, I would say that I had to work even harder to prove myself as a capable leader. And while many male colleagues have been incredibly supportive there have been periods where I had to convince others of my competencies as a female leader.

I am pleased however that we are seeing more Saudi females enter not just the hospitality industry but also a diverse range of industries and many at leadership positions. Vision 2030 emphasizes the significance of Saudi women and their role in leading the development of both social and professional growth of the Kingdom. Saudi women have so far shown a great success in leadership positions and I do believe Saudi women will continue to provide more leaders either in the industry or outside.

Find out more about this milestone and Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s initiatives for elevating more women into senior roles in this video: