Accor’s Heather McCrory’s advice on Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day, to help guide the next generation of young women entering the hospitality industry, HOTELS starts a series of interviews with female leaders at Accor.

Offering career advice and reflections about lessons learned along her career trajectory, we start today with the CEO of North and Central America, Heather McCrory, and will feature others on her team throughout the week.

HOTELS: What advice would you give your younger self?

Heather McCrory: With 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, I still believe in three key principles:

Ask questions, clarify, and then do your best work. This will save you a tremendous amount of time and frustration and will help you build your professional reputation as a clear thinker who delivers.

Network and build authentic relationships within and outside of your organization. From boards and committees to volunteer work, networking broadens your perspective and supports the greater community. There are numerous reasons why networking is important, but simply put, networking will allow you to create relationships, and if you foster these relationships, it will lead to an exchange of ideas and will open the door for opportunities over time.

Likely the most important, understand that people are like icebergs. What people present to the world is usually only a small portion of themselves. There is the piece you see and interact with, but undoubtedly, there is so much more that you do not immediately see. Be empathetic to others as you may not know what they may be going through.

Heather McCrory, CEO of North and Central America, Accor

In terms of lessons learned, know with certainty that over your career you are going to face some challenges with equality, diversity and inclusion. Whether you encounter microaggressions, a boys’ club culture, questionable fairness, “mansplaining” or women who are not supportive of other women, these issues are all regrettably a reality in the world.

While the industry is working hard to cultivate work environments that foster equality, diversity and inclusion, progress is still being made, and these matters still very much exist. My advice is to acknowledge these situations for what they are, rise above and carry on.

H: What to women need to embrace on their leadership journey?

HM: Know your value, advocate for yourself, find your purpose, maintain work/life balance, remember your voice.

Be yourself. Have confidence in your unique self, know your strengths and weaknesses, and surround yourself with people who have different strengths.

Balance as a concept is elusive. Find what works for you but remember that too much focus and passion can also lead to poor judgment. There are many positives to stepping back and enjoying other pursuits.

Keep learning. Invest in yourself. Develop new skills, read, listen to podcasts… Do whatever brings you joy but always be open to learning.

Be curious. Ask questions and listen carefully to others.

Take a second to breathe. When you are having a mental block or you are really frustrated with a situation, take a step back. Go outside for a few minutes for a walk or a run or sleep on it. Solutions materialize.