The best man for the job is a woman! In the business of taking care of people, Filipinos will always, if not majority, associate the word care to all the women specifically moms who have tirelessly given all that they could to mold leaders and contributing individuals starting at the confines of what we all call home. Truly, times have changed and finally we celebrate more empowered women embracing roles as decision makers in their chosen industries.
Megaworld Hotels and Resorts, the Philippines’ largest hospitality management chain in the country with 6 brands, 12 properties, and 4,500 room keys nationwide, celebrates three smart-working ladies in their organization who’ve managed to rise above copious challenges through different mindsets and rightfully taking a seat in the table as they take on new leadership positions in the organization.
Owen, as dearly called by many, stepped up from being the property’s Director of Sales and Marketing to now being the first lady General Manager of a 122-room hotel at the center of a 1,200 hectare Twin Lakes estate of Megaworld. Contrary to the title, she shares that as the world continues to evolve, “I am positive that change will come naturally. In the future, she adds, “I would like to be defined and seen as a leader alone, and not a woman leader”. As society comes to better terms with inclusivity, she sees it as a privilege and a responsibility to part-take in the effort of eliminating prejudiced biases with gender and preference as a primary basis.
The first-time general manager has surely done much with almost three decades of humble service in the industry under her belt. She has expanded her craft from operations to sales until reaching an executive leadership rank. During her early days, she remembers starting her career as an outlet cashier moving her way up to Assistant Director of Events and Management in Edsa Shangri-La in Manila. She also dabbled with other international brands like Mandarin Oriental, Intercontinental Hotel and other local brands like B Hotel in Quezon City and Robinsons Hotels and Resorts before joining Megaworld Hotels and Resorts starting the year 2020 until the present.
Promoted from Resort Manager to now the General Manager of Belmont Hotel Boracay in just a span of a year, Maia Israel, has always been well loved for her nurturing approach to leadership. She believes that “mentorship is a tool I personally have benefited from the most and is my privilege and responsibility to pass it forward.”
Remembering the days when she started her career in the hospitality industry way back as part of the reservations team in Shangri-la Mactan in the 90’s up to her stint in Maldives, Indonesia, Fiji, and Cambodia with brands like Marriott International and Banyan Tree and everything else in between, she admits having been blessed with leaders who took the ways of the heart to motivate outcome and positives results.
With most of her experience growing in the revenue, rooms operations and F&B of numerous beach resorts all over the world, she said “you can never tell how your day is going to end”. As a certified Island girl, she said “you take things like how the shores welcome the waves of the sea. You can never control it, but you can always make the most out of it”.
Savoy Hotel Boracay is most fitting for small to large family reunions, people vacationing with a hint of business. With 442 rooms, 2 F&B outlets, a pool, spa, and a dedicated beach front perfect to greet the golden sunrise, she dares to ask, “What more from life can you ask for?”
It’s all about the experience. “More than the destination, picturesque scenery, and complete facilities is really the collection of memorable moments that builds connections and spark joy” shares Claire Bernabe, Megaworld Hotels and Resorts’ newest addition to the brand management team.
Exactly 30 years in the hospitality industry with local and international experience, Bernabe admits that “a memorable authentic Filipino customer experience is constantly evolving and adequately adapts to the needs of the customer”. Waving the flagship of the largest homegrown hospitality management brand, she confidently attests that “We Filipinos are known to be hospitable and are a happy people. We are enablers, and we do so with warmth and a smile that doesn’t need to be taught or practiced.”
Luckily with MHR, Bernabe celebrates that the organization is anchored on faith, its investors, and its people. She delights that “MHR has a transformational leader in the person of its very own Managing Director, Ms. Cleofe Albiso, who empowers key executives”. As someone who hails from celebrated brands, Bernabe affirms that “MHR’s structural pillars are in place and steps are being taken to further improve and strengthen the organization to support further growth.” In her line of experience, Bernabe has served leadership roles with brands like Pearl Farm Beach Resort, Century International Hotels, Marco Polo Davao, Novotel Garden Plaza Saigon, Movenpick Saigon, Discovery Shores and so much more.
When asked if there’s one thing all women should look forward to each day, she said “Have the chance to greet another day with a smile, be able to make a difference in the lives of others as much as you inspire them to bring the good forward.”