Photo by Denis Duquette

Chief Engineer, Delta Hotels Frederiction

Candace Boone, who has held the role of chief engineer at Delta Hotels Fredericton for three years, doesn’t have a typical day. Her role overseeing the maintenance department and capital projects in the plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems of the property’s laundry room, two restaurants, kitchen, 222 guestrooms, 15 meeting spaces and lobby ensure that day-to-day experiences run the gamut.

In 2017, Boone and her team replaced the hotel’s 11 roofs and retiled its indoor pool. In 2015, they completed a $375,000 hot-water refurb.

In the beginning, her distinction as a female engineer unnerved her, but Marriott’s Canadian team was always welcoming and now there are two other female chief engineers in the company’s Canadian portfolio and another dozen in the U.S. Additionally, Marriott hosts a women’s engineering coalition so girls in high school know it’s an option and there’s a culture of encouragement in the company for engineering directors to put women on their teams.

“Don’t be afraid,” Boone tells young women every chance she can get. “There are others out there who can help you along the way.”

Photo by Derek Ford

President and Owner, Kingsbridge Management Ltd.

Recently, Suzanne Gatrell, president and owner of Kingsbridge Management Ltd., apologized to her adult son for his growing-up years. As a single mom launching a new life in Canada in a male-dominated industry, she considered those the “dark days.” But her boy told her he remembered a brighter scene. “You were always there to tuck me in and give me values,” he said — among them, perseverance.

Gatrell began her hospitality career in England, specializing in her family’s Relais & Châteaux hotel interests. She loved the guest interaction to which the industry exposed her and the realization “that you could make a difference in their world.” In 1994, she followed a hotel job to Canada, where she learned that leadership is more cutthroat in England and softened her approach. Then things got hard again.

In December 2015, the owners of The Oswego Hotel — an 80-room boutique hotel in Victoria — for whom Gatrell worked as general manager, announced plans to close the property. Alarmed, Gatrell launched her own full-service hotel-management firm to save the hotel.

Victoria-based Kingsbridge Management would go on to work with luxury boutique hotels, 100 rooms or fewer, with no flag or brand.

There may be other hotel-management companies in North America with a female CEO, but Gatrell’s been told she’s the only one. And the distinction’s been hard-won — competing with massive, known brands in a sea of naysayers who insisted there was no money in independents. Then, last year, the company soared, taking on a second property and catapulting its visibility. The brands, meanwhile, have splintered around her, diversifying into smaller operations to meet guests’ changing tastes for precisely the kind of hotel Gatrell embraced.

Photo by Derek Ford

Chief Marketing Officer, Destination Canada

For Gloria Loree, Chief Marketing Officer for Destination Canada, it’s always been about the stories.

Born in Calgary but raised across the country, Loree first tried her hand at journalism, doing her graduate thesis on female foreign correspondents with a view to joining their ranks. But the single-mindedness of the profession conflicted with her impulse for a wide and varied life. So, she picked up the story in tourism and satisfyingly tied its threads in industry organizations.

She started her career with Destination Canada in 2007 and became Chief Marketing Officer earlier this year.

The job — which she describes as “helping people fall in love with Canada” — is a peach. “Canada always delivers.”

While Loree is the organization’s first female CMO, she says “it doesn’t feel like it.” Being a woman in a senior tourism post isn’t a big deal, she explains, particularly since so many of her cross-country peers are also women.

Less cozy, she says, is balancing an executive job with family — a trick she considers as challenging for men as for women. Focus is key here — and fending off of perfectionism.
Loree is a strong believer in diversity and that all executive staffs should mix up not only genders, but ages. Effective teams feature “group genius,” which kicks in “when one person isn’t talking all the time.” When it’s women, their voices are empathetic, she believes, and informed by a more fluid career path. The key is using them.

“I took note of Sheryl Sandberg’s book and her wanting women to put their hands up — even if they’re on maternity leave — for a promotion. I’ve worked to make sure the women I work with aren’t afraid to do that.”

Photo by Jason Gordon

Vice-president, Enterprise Business Division, Samsung Electronics Canada

When she was younger, Mary Peterson wasn’t a fan of affirmative action. Job vacancies should be filled by the most capable person, she thought, their gender notwithstanding. Today she feels differently. “It’s still so off balance and it’s not going to move on its own.”

In her post as vice-president, Enterprise Business Division at Samsung Electronics Canada, Peterson’s doing her bit. She’s the executive sponsor for Women at Samsung Canada — an employee group committed to increasing diversity and gender equality — for which she’s developed mentor programs to help women reach their potential. And she pushes the case for keeping women at work through their childbearing years, always mindful of the way her new baby made her an oddball.

Peterson got into technology as a sales rep at Microsoft in 1992 — an industry that was not spilling over with female role models. It was only in retrospect that Peterson realized the men she worked alongside weren’t having to launch themselves over the same hurdles she was.

Now, 30 years later, Peterson regrets not knocking the barriers down with more vigour. “I got busy working and raising a family and now I look back and say shame on me.”

The technology business remains categorically male-centric, she laments, but still, she’s hopeful. The #MeToo spark has ignited an important conversation. “Now’s the time to throw the rope back down to a more-aware population and start pulling them up.”

Written by Laura Pratt


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