Women in business! Irina Tomić : Phrase “Woman in business” will always be exotic

On my road to development and growth, I was lucky to be mentored by very knowledgeable, professional smart and strong men, Diplomacy&Commerce, Women in business, says Irina Tomić , Director of Sales and Marketing at Blue Kotor Bay . I work with lots of men, sometimes they are annoyed with the amount of words coming out from me, but majority of the time, I really feel appreciated and respected, and I do feel they really have my back, says Irina Tomić.

1. “Woman in business” is it still “exotic” or has it become our everyday life?
Hmm, exotic. I think this phrase “woman in business” will always be exotic. It sounds exotic, not to go even further and say out loud, if I may, it sounds sexy, right? It is my everyday life from the day one actually, even from college days, I dreamt to be the one in nice suits and high heels, with leather case full of important documents. Stereotype, which you are aware of only when you are twenty, and you think this is something you need to maintain in order to be perceived as business woman. Today I swooped these heels with sneakers, and rather relaxed outfits, but documents are still here, no matter which type. There is such a strong connotation behind this phrase “woman in business”; most of the times I am not even aware that it really represents something crucial, historically grounded, valued in so many different ways, especially in the eyes of my daughter and her friends for example.

2. Is the business world a man’s world? What are your experiences on the road to success?
Every questions I feel like starting with: hmmm….and then to really think deep. Listen, statistically, the answer is still big YES. The current global labor force participation rate for women is just under 47%. For men, it’s 72%. That’s a difference of 25 percentage points, with some regions facing a gap of more than 50 percentage points. Since this is the case, than working men are the answer to creating freedom to work for women, as this should be the starting point. The mathematics behind it easy, eventually it would lead to huge growth benefits, and positive production at the end. Not to mention, the changes in society – the rising number of confident, self-sustained, self – aware, happy, smart and beautiful women all around the world. If speaking about my experience, I feel obliged to mention that I had amazing experience, even though, through the career I did have a huge change in the work surrounding. My path has brought me to experience working in Montenegro, beautiful country which has a rather different “setup” than Croatia and EU, moreover, still very patriarchate in some ways. Before that, on my road to development and growth, I was lucky to be mentored by very knowledgeable, professional smart and strong men. The emotions were always high, all the time on the steak, sometimes I even lost so much, but at the end, the final result was rather positive and admirable. So I could easily say, that one of these men, have not recognized my potential and gave me further opportunities to learn and to grow, if they have not polish my mind and influence how to balance emotions and ratio on the job, maybe I would be different today. I do not mind saying thank you to these role models in business to me. My former General Manager from Esplanade Zagreb visited me last summer in Kotor Bay, in the resort where I am part of management, and was so happy for this opportunity to say thank you to him, for believing in me and molding me according to my character and skills. Probably, if he did not push me so hard, I would not investigate my limits so early in the career. There are always both sides of everything, I mean, there were also some not so nice things during the career but if I have to generalize, I would recommend the same to most of the women. Nowadays, I work with lots of men, sometimes they are annoyed with the amount of words coming out from me, but majority of the time, I really feel appreciated and respected, and I do feel they really have my back.

3. There are still fewer women in leading positions compared to men colleagues, somewhere around 5%. What do you think is the reason for that and how can that figure be changed in favor of women?

From what I learned, it really depends on various conditions. One of them is the country itself. There is huge difference between developed and stable countries, and those which are still developing. The truth behind lower economy, is that women do not have any choice, but rather to seek for job. On the other side, in developed countries, women, especially if married, and if partner is financially stable, usually play some other role in the society, like being part of some associations, humanitarian clubs etc., so they give in, and give back, but in a different manner. I would like to point out, that the starting point actually, no matter which economic level country is, we should create climate for women to freely decide whether they want paying job, or they want to seek some other things. Freedom to work at this point should be primary focus, and we are still on step 1 in some countries. There are many socio economic constraints which we need to focus on to resolve this step 1, with many variables.

4. You are director of sales and marketing at Blue Kotor Bay. How much attention do you at Blue Kotor Bay pay to each type of equality, including women?
In tourism there is a great mixture of both, men and women, younger and older workers. There are almost around 300 colleagues in our company at the moment, from all over the world. Mobility is crucial for workforce at the moment. From the day one, Blue Kotor Bay showed comparable attention to equality, especially to women. This is the industry where you need to show respect towards all your employees, as you showcase on a daily basis how yo want for all guests to be treated. Showing by example is our everyday practice. Not to mention again, one of the men in business, our CEO who is pushing all of us every day to act like dames and gentleman. I always say, in hospitality, in hotel business, we are like ladies and gentleman serving other ladies and gentleman. If you analyze the word – gentleman, you will see this soft, beautiful, meaningful word – GENTLE. So, this is what I expect to get from everybody, and to give to all around me – gentleness. As of June 1st we have committed ourselves to franchise of Hyatt Regency, and Hyatt is known for taking care of the people first and foremost. We are obliged to go through specific trainings in order to better understand culture around us, company culture, also treats around us and how to recognize them and act upon. I am extremely happy that this will bring additional enhancements and growth.

5. Your company is also known as a company that pays special attention to the attitude towards employees, mutual respect. How difficult is it to understand the needs of employees and what is essential for satisfaction and success at work?
I have said in one of the interviews before, tourism is the industry of emotions. It is one of the nicest industries to work in. Everyone is equally important, and one cannot function without the other. Guests cannot be satisfied if we are not working all together in the team, as the one. Hospitality industry sets example and implements high standards from the behavioral point of view. Guest satisfaction is the mirror of employees’ satisfaction. Obviously, in this business guests’ needs are those that you hear very loudly, and ours are often very quiet, not out loud spoken. You really need to be the master of psychology for establishing work climate where you allow people to be heard, where they know as a worker there are respected and valued. We treat our colleagues in a manner we want our guests to be treated. Again, showing by example is always the best school. Communication, empathy, listening, togetherness, team work, stepping in for a colleague, not minimizing any role in a team, and many other nice examples are set in a stone if you want to have successful organization. This is industry with a great workforce turnover, so you want to make sure in every possible way to keep every single one of the valued staff. Part of the process is to present them with individual growth plans, to understand their individual set of skills, and to allow them to develop in the best fitting position. And at the end of the day, there is nothing nicer when you find a note in the hotel room, hand written from guests, showing thank to all team members for making their stay memorable one. This is the end hype.