CONNECTING WOMEN IN HOSPITALITY

Assia Riccio aspires to be the region’s leading influencer and role model for women advancement in hospitality and is dedicated to building a business that does good through hospitality. We meet her to get insights into her past, her new venture and her aim to evolve the role of women in hospitality.

 

A hospitality professional, coach and trainer with more than five years’ experience in Learning and Development, Assia earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economy and Business of Tourism in her native Italy in 2006 at Università degli Studi Parthenope in Naples and holds a dual certificate in Leadership and Personal Effectiveness in Switzerland from the Ecole Hotelier de Lausanne where she graduated in 2011.

 

Wanting to do more within the hospitality industry, Assia went on to obtain a certificate in Revenue and Financial Management at American Cornell University in Ithaca, NY in 2012, where she was awarded a scholarship to pursue studies in leadership. She has also earned certifications to support employee development and coaching including a Neuro- Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner Certificate recognised by the American Board of NLP, a Time Line Therapy™ Practitioner Certificate recognised by the Time Line Therapy Association™, a Hypnotherapist Practitioner Certificate recognised by the American Board of Hypnotherapy and a PRISM Brain Mapping Practitioner Certificate.

 

Assia began her career in hospitality at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in 2007, a five star boutique hotel in England where she joined as a Reservationist and graduated to the level of Guest Services Manager. She received the Olive Barnett Award in 2011, an annual, international honour awarded to an outstanding person under 30 in any sector of hospitality, leisure or travel in a customer-facing role. She also received the Acorn Award in 2012, which recognises 30 of the brightest stars in the industry under the age of 30.

 

For the last six years, Assia has been a guest speaker in numerous conferences on people engagement and was nominated for the Learning and Development Leader of the year at the L&D Show in Dubai in 2013. She has also delivered leadership and communication training for the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) in Dubai.

 

For a few years, Assia has managed inLead Consulting in Dubai with a portfolio of worldwide known training solutions including Ken Blanchard, VitalSmarts, Eagle’s Flight and Bob Pike. She is a certified trainer in Situational Leadership and Optimal Motivation by Ken Blanchard, Crucial Conversations by VitalSmarts and has delivered training in Coca-Cola, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) ENEC, Dubai Health Authority, and General Electrics and Total System Services (TSYS).

 

Assia is a member of the advisory board committee for the Ecole Hôtelière Helvétique in Dubai as well as a member of the Dubai Women’s Business Council. She works with several international non-profit organizations, where she offers consultancy on women’s leadership and diversity in organization.

 

 

In order to launch her business, Assia recently completed a year as the Group Learning and Development Manager at Jumeirah Restaurant Group (JRG) in Dubai, a division with a portfolio of 40 plus restaurants where she develops the L&D strategy for almost 2000 employees.

 

Assia is very passionate about the industry and has one goal: set up a successful development model for women who share her same passion for hospitality and want to have a greater impact in the industry. She hopes to create a successful business model for a development network that can be used in other industries.

 

We ask Assia more about her passion for hospitality, her hopes for the future and steps she is taking for her initiative to bring women in hospitality together.

 

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE?

I am a dreamer, an eager learner with a big heart and passionate about hospitality. Driven by a desire to make a positive difference in the industry, I hope to attract more women to the industry or work with women already in the industry.

 

WHAT MAKES YOU DIFFERENT AS A PERSON AND HOW DOES THIS HELP YOU WITH YOUR CAREER?

I think my childhood and upbringing have played a major role in my decision to join the industry. My parents introduced me to the purest form of hospitality, the one that doesn’t require a booking, white gloves, silverware and fine china but nothing else other than a large table, home made food, your loved ones and the feeling of belonging. The shift of mindset from servitude to a way of living will attract more women to the industry and the fact that I have experienced it first hand is a USP.

 

My parents were the first people that supported my wish to start a career in hospitality at the age of 14 and have always believed in my business and life choices… including moving to the UK at the age of 21 with no job, 300 Euros in my back pocket and broken English! Not sure if this is a USP but this is the trust and support I want to provide to women who wish to explore and join the industry.

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE HOSPITALITY FIELD SO FAR?

I have been very fortunate for the opportunity to meet and work with a few influencers that most women at my age would only read about or see on TV. These influencers have provided advice and support through out my career and have helped me define my role and identity in the industry. Some of them are M. Raymond Blanc OBE 2 Michelin star chef and Chef Patron at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxford, UK and Mr Philip Newman-Hal, at that time Director and General Manager, at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons as well as Julia Sibley Master of the Worshipful Company of Innholders in the UK.

 

My constant drive for improvement and learning has also made my journey a continuous evolution. I was awarded two scholarships that allowed me to study both in the Ecole Hotelier de Lausanne (best hotel school in Europe) and in Cornell (best hotel school in the world). These experiences are giving me an edge while positioning the business.

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY INITIATIVES?

When women sign up to our platform, they don’t only help a business grow but they join a social cause by providing women who lack resources to advance professionally , the opportunity to grow and make a positive change in their lives through a career in hospitality.

 

Hence we provide a platform where women collaborate and make a positive difference.

 

You have done a lot of studies that add value professionally – how does that benefit other people on a business and personal level?

 

I am a professional coach (mainly business and career development), trainer and hospitality professional. I focus on women’s development as active contributors for the community and economy growth. My clients say that I am very creative, inspirational and that I care about them getting the most out of our relationship.

 

I love hospitality more than I love myself and I believe in making the world a better place through the power of pure hospitality: good food, good company and the feeling of belonging. I believe in people’s freedom to choose what is best and what works for them and I teach learning and development according to the old Chinese proverb “GIVE A MAN A FISH AND HE WILL EAT FOR A DAY; TEACH A MAN TO FISH AND HE WILL EAT FOR A LIFETIME.”…as a way to become autonomous.

 

In fact, I would rather train women to speak up than speak up for them and introduce them to potential mentors rather than playing the matchmaker for them. I always want to shed a positive image about the hospitality industry as a career choice for women and discard the misconception of it as a temporary position of servitude, when it should be thought of as a way to create special moments and experiences for guests.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?

My weakness is the tendency to evaluate and look at more than one option before making a decision that can generate delays. My strength is having a loving family and supportive friends. I tend to look at the positive side and see failures as feedback. I am a visionary, creator and innovator and trust my instincts.

 

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE IN THE MENA REGION AND WHAT ARE THE MAIN ACTIVITIES THAT YOU WILL BE IMPLEMENTING?

My efforts are aimed to build a consolidated platform that recognizes women’s potential to be successful in hospitality and provide a diverse portfolio of opportunities in education, training, recruitment, coaching, mentoring so that they can embrace personal and professional development for a greater impact in the industry. I hope to be an influencer and advocate for women’s growth, impact, and contribution in the industry and start collaborating with humanitarian organizations around the world to offer women the opportunity to make a positive change in their lifes through hospitality.

 

CAN YOU SHARE SOME WORDS OF WISDOM FOR OUR READERS?

It is not who you are but what you do...and what you do can be learned. It is the spirit of generosity that drives successful hospitality businesses.

 

Edited by Shereen Shabnam

 

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