Triumph is best celebrated when it happens while supporting others on your way up, and that’s what Liezl Meier, the General Manager at Rabban Suites West Bay (soon to be rebranded as voco Doha West Bay Suites – an IHG Hotel), teaches us.
“My advice to young ladies starting their careers is to use the power of their gut feeling or natural female intuition.” – Liezl Meier
OHLALA – Tell us a bit about yourself and how you reached the position you are in today. How was the path to arrive there?
Liezl Meier – I am a South African national who spent most of my career in the commercial and sales and marketing fields of numerous international luxury hotels. In 2018, IHG opened its door to my first opportunity in the GCC, it was in Bahrain, and I fell in love with the Middle East, its culture and its people.
OHLALA – What have you achieved that makes you the proudest in your career?
LM – I am the happiest when I feel that I added value to people’s careers and lives. The well-being of my employees has always been of paramount importance to me. In one of my roles as Director of Sales and Marketing of a large five-star resort in South Africa, I achieved a Colleague Engagement score within the top 10 per cent of the entire Middle East, India and Africa for three years running. Besides many financial accolades, I am most proud of this achievement as this validates the efforts I put into my team.
OHLALA – What do you think was the biggest challenge you had to face?
LM – I think most people will answer that the Covid-19 pandemic was probably the biggest challenge humanity as a whole had to face in a very long time. It has been tough to ensure maximum return on investment for different owners during this global crisis. However, the human factor probably took the most significant toll on most leaders in the hospitality industry. Having to find a balance in saving as many jobs and, in turn, families’ livelihoods was a very taxing task. I want to think that I achieved this with as much poise and grace as was humanly possible in such unprecedented times.
OHLALA – How do you feel about having conquered so much as a woman?
LM – I think women bring a different dynamic to the corporate environment. Whilst we are fierce and determined fighters, our intuition and instinct allow us to cultivate a different nuance in the workplace, making me genuinely proud to represent the female gender. I believe the only time a woman should ever look down is to admire the glamour of the heels she is wearing at that specific moment.
OHLALA – What’s your motto in life?
LM – A very dear client of mine gave me this piece of advice many years ago when I just started my career. Whilst I have a few other very strict ground rules, I mainly live by the following: “Remember that when you walk into a room, that no-one in that room is more important than you. But also remember that you are no more important than anyone else in that room either.” This motto has allowed me to exert confidence and keep my head held high whilst staying true and honest to myself, reminding me to stay humble and grounded.
OHLALA – How do you balance your personal life and work?
LM – Can we skip to the next question? (laughs) Climbing the ladder to become a leader in the hospitality industry didn’t always allow me to do this very successfully. I have to be honest in saying that I often had to make some personal sacrifices to achieve what I have. I am, however, blessed with a very supportive and understanding family. I also believe that ‘balance’ doesn’t always have to be just in quantity, but it also comes in quality. Therefore, if I can give 150 per cent at work and also 150 per cent at home, the length of time spent in each becomes less important.
OHLALA – What do you do that allows you to disconnect from work?
LM – I make sure that I exercise at least six hours a week. Anything from a Pilates session or just a walk in one of our beautiful parks to an intense boxing class helps me disconnect. And, of course, being a true South African, I love nature and animals, and I am very happy if I can spend some time outdoors or with my pets.
OHLALA – What piece of advice do you give to young ladies out there starting their careers?
LM – Allow yourself to make a million mistakes and learn from each one of those, but never tolerate yourself making the same mistake twice! This is the first rule that I teach my children, as well as anyone who has ever worked in my team. My best advice to young ladies starting their careers is to use the power of their gut feeling or natural female intuition. When I struggle to make a decision, when my head and my heart do not necessarily agree, I always choose to follow my stomach, which has never let me down!