Jacqueline Mwaura is the area director of revenue management at InterContinental Hotels Group.
In the past four years that I have been working with InterContinental Hotels Group, I have climbed three positions from a revenue manager, director of revenue and recently area director of revenue. Currently, I manage three of the InterContinental hotels in Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia.
Climbing the corporate ladder has not been a stroll on the beach — it has taken daily doses of hard, planned work. I began my career as a front desk clerk in Newport Besach California where I worked myself through the sales department as an assistant before becoming sales manager, at the tender age of 21, at the Miami Florida cluster hotels.
The director of revenue there sparked the fire of revenue management in me and ignited my journey to the top. I have not looked back and have always viewed each day as an opportunity to make a step forward. To achieve my goals, I begin my day any minute between 6am and 6.15am when I wake up.
By 7.30am, I am usually at my office, in Nairobi’s central business district. I sift through my inbox and attend to any pending urgent emails before reviewing the company’s performance the previous day.
Usually, this involves looking at bed occupancy , and revenues we collected in all our revenue generating centres. At 8.30am, I often attend the 30-minute morning operations meeting, with all our department heads.
It is only after this meeting that I grab my coffee and breakfast while reading the daily papers to keep me abreast with the market and business. By 9.30am, I am usually fully buried in work. Apart from analysing the best way to get higher revenues, I also work on strategic forecasts for the next three to twelve months for the three branches, while formulating plans to bring in profits. In the same vein, I always make sure I check what my competitors are offering and what people in both business, social and political spheres are saying in that regard.
This enables me to know what gear to engage in keeping my profile on top. On a normal day, I have my lunch at 12.30pm, after which I delve back into work.
In my career walk, I have learned that no career woman can ever reach her peak alone. She’ll need to collaborate with her colleagues, and be able to pick and choose friends and acquaintances who add value and help her grow, while boldly dropping the rest. This is what I have had to do in addition to drawing a strategic career plan.
However, I have faced challenges. Currently, my biggest challenge is terrorism, given that my field of work is closely related to tourism and hospitality. It is likely to become difficult to meet the group’s financial obligations especially given that terrorism is completely out of my control.
As a young woman, I have faced hardships trying to sell my ideas to people who have been in the industry for a while and who often think they know best. But in spite of all, I have learned to evaluate my challenges and deal with them without casting anyone as a hindrance to our growth.
On any working day, I try to leave the office at 5pm. This allows me to spare an hour in my day for a workout. Interestingly, running, walking or exercising with a cross trainer is my way of unwinding, though an occasional glass of wine with close associates also does the trick. And when time allows, you will find me shopping.