Women leaders in hospitality: Q&A with Vanessa Picariello, Senior Director of Public Relations, Norwegian Cruise Line
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Vanessa Picariello, Senior Director of Public Relations at Norwegian Cruise Line, shares career advice and leadership tips.
Her Role: Based in Miami, Florida, she leads a team of three that oversees global PR efforts and internal communications for the 20,000-employee company.
What her day is like: Her work hours are typically spent writing press releases and pitching media on upcoming initiatives and stories.
“We have several new ships on order with plans to launch. We determine how we want to talk about that. We work with our operations, F&B or concierge teams, to find out what stories are happening. Maybe there’s a great new cocktail or we’ve partnered with an award-winning bartender. As a public company, we also work closely with our investor relations team to ensure that the messages going out about our company and analysts are shared with business media,” says Picariello.
Her Background: In her role for the past four years, Picariello’s career ascent began with a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Miami, which she says provided an excellent writing background and base.
“At the end of the day, you have to know how to communicate ideas and messages on behalf of your brand. My degree served me well on the PR side, as I know what the press are looking for, how to give good sound bites, and which shots will work for media and which won’t. I can set up a scene in a way that works for my brand, my product and the media,” she says.
Challenges: “Dispelling myths, like those of the midnight buffet and shuffleboard, which exist for consumers,” she says. “Only about five percent of the U.S. population has ever cruised, so there's a huge opportunity to reach new customers. These are engaging vacations, with Broadway entertainment, specialty restaurants – many with celebrity chefs just like in Vegas.”
And then there’s the weather… “If a hurricane puts a ship off course, we strive to be clear, consistent and transparent in our communication with our guests. It’s sometimes a challenge to quickly move to get information to them right away,” she says.
On women leaders in hospitality: “I think hospitality is a natural fit for women. We’re half of the population. Studies show that companies with women in leadership positions often perform better and have higher profits. We’ve got women in top positions – our head of human resources and CFO are women. It’s nice to see a company embrace that.”
Career Advice: “When starting out, learn all you can, volunteer to go on trips and conferences. Be a part of meetings. Sit in on calls. It’s the natural way to learn more about your organization and learn how the business operates on the whole.”
Her leadership style: “Everyone has his or her own area and things to accomplish, but coalition building across an organization is important.”
Successful traits: “Being truthful, transparent and upfront. If I make a mistake, I own it. I tell my team that we’re not robots, we’re human. Learn and apply in the future.”
Where she’s traveled lately: Paris, London and the Mediterranean. She’ll visit China next year for the launch of a new Norwegian Cruise Line ship.