Women leaders in hospitality: Career advice from Kathleen Reidenbach, Chief Commercial Officer, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants
Kathleen Reidenbach, Chief Commercial Officer at Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, shares her expert career advice and on-the-job tips for those new to the hospitality industry or professionals wishing to move up in their careers.
Background: At Amherst College, Reidenbach double majored in Economics and Spanish and upon graduation, worked for an investment bank. With a passion for restaurants, she later sought work at a restaurant group, stumbled upon Kimpton, and joined their home office in 2002 as a business analyst within their revenue and distribution department.
What her day is like: Reidenbach travels roughly two weeks each month for work. Most days, she attends meetings related to the crafting of brand identity for new hotels and restaurants.
“A lot of time is spent defining our position in the market and making sure we’re off to a good start,” says the executive.
Her leadership style: A highly approachable and trustworthy management style is a key to Reidenbach’s success. “It’s important for me to have a high level of trust between myself and my team, so that we’re empowered to make the right decisions, to be creative and to take smart risks, which allows us to evolve to meet the demands of the market,” she says.
To meet and exceed her job expectations, “I’m constantly looking for feedback from peers, senior leadership and my team. I’m scanning what works with this, and how I could have showed up better.
Challenges she faces: An inherent challenge of Reidenbach’s job is being able to respond to new dynamics in the team, in the market or from an ownership perspective. “There are curveballs that force you to rejigger your priorities constantly and change course. I’ve learned to cross check against what’s happening around me and have a level of fluidity,” says the executive.
On women leaders in hospitality: “As an employee and woman moving in to a leadership role, never be afraid to get feedback. It allows you to easily course correct in the moment, and to make adjustments week to week, rather than waiting another year for an annual performance review.”
Career Advice: For those coming up the ranks, Reidenbach says a mix of experience is advisable.
“Property experience helps you gain insight in to the impact of decisions from both the logistics and guest experience sides,” says Reidenbach. “Communications and social media are merging together, requiring an integrative marketing strategy. Understanding the mechanics of a number of those disciplines and how they’re independent and co-dependent upon each other is important.”
Advice for advancing withing an organization: “Not one of my jobs at Kimpton existed before I moved in to them. Especially working at a mid-sized company, an opportunity may not be in a linear fashion or directly in front of you with a job title and description. You may need to make it up. Show management and leadership how you can help the company to continue to perform and excel.”
Her favorite career tip: “Be aware of your blind spots. All of us have them. Lean on your team and leverage the talent around you. Don’t rely on yourself to fill in all of those voids.”
On acheiving work/life balance: “Be flexible. I have two kids and travel a lot for work. The world of clocking in and out is outdated. Be forgiving and gentle on yourself and fluid with your schedule to get it all done.”
What trait do you need for sucess?: “None of this stuff is easy. You’ll hit some low points in your career or personal life. Having a sense of humor is critical.”
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