International Women’s Day: in conversation with our deputy general manager Femke Groeneveld-Weller

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At Hotel Okura Amsterdam we #ChooseToChallenge by inspiring and developing the next generation of leading female hoteliers.

We take a moment to reflect on International Women’s Day with Femke Groeneveld-Weller – deputy General Manager at Hotel Okura Amsterdam.

Femke: “I wonder… Have I been lucky? The answer is, yes. I think I have.”

This is my story

I grew up in a very small farmers village in a very safe, warm and loving family who have been supporting and challenging me from a young age.

Looking back, I think my first “challenge” I came across was in high school. My physics professor told me not to choose the exact grades, such as physics, math and science. “This is not for girls,” he said. Well, I chose the most exact package to prove him wrong and intended to become a veterinarian or a marine biologist at the time.

In the end, I changed my plans. Instead, I moved to the United States after high school. I only returned to the Netherlands to study hotel management, but right after graduation I moved back to the US and ended up working abroad for 22 years. I was able to build my hospitality career in New York, Curacao, Bahrein, Puerto-Rico and Miami. I feel privileged to have learned from different cultures but also hope I left a small mark for others in the places I worked. Places where I experienced different realities on men/women equality.

I am grateful for the many opportunities I received in life, and I am thankful to have my mom, my grandma and my younger sister as great female role models and inspiration to me. At the same time, I realise not everyone is so lucky, so I try to contribute on a small, yet personal scale.

I want to inspire young women to become leading hoteliers of the world by supporting, coaching and challenging them to have a fabulous career in the hospitality by just being the best version of themselves. I believe women are strong leaders especially by being conscious and adaptive in this fast-changing world. But at the same time, I find it hard to make a statement about women as a general group. It is the diversity of people (women and men) that counts. It is the mix of characters, talents and qualities that make the difference and determine the success of a team. Together we make this world a more beautiful place to live and work in.

Femke Groeneveld Weller