Women in Business: Interview with Stephanie Neuhold

Juggling corporate and personal can be a job in itself. We caught up with Stephanie Neuhold, Head Rovester (Hotel Manager) of Rove Trade Centre Hotel to find out how she manages to keep on top of her game.

She is a passionate hotelier, mum, wife, daughter and a transformer in the rapidly growing lifestyle hotel industry. Born in Vienna, Austria, she is thoroughly enjoying living and working in Dubai and the UAE’s fast paced lifestyle since 10 years.

Let’s meet Stephanie…

Tell us a little about yourself and your role at Rove?

As a Head Rovester, I have the pleasure to support, guide and empower my team daily to become the very best version of themselves.

This role is very exciting and there are new things to learn and explore constantly. My main objective is to make our Rovers (that’s how we call our guests!) feel comfortable, like if it’s your cosy home, during their stay. We have a casual, yet professional approach in our hospitality brand and this works very well to keep both our Rovers as well as my team engaged, energized and most important HAPPY.

I’m very hands on, known for not being able to sit still and always do my best to help the team in operations to succeed, while they should feel valued and appreciated. Being away from home, we all need a supporting environment to thrive, and that’s what I try to provide my team with. At the end we are seeing each other more hours a day than our own family.

Apart from guest experience and team support, I also look after the commercial performance of the hotel with the support of a marketing, revenue and sales hub.

It’s a very dynamic environment and it never gets boring.

As a leader in a high pressure environment how do you manage this with your family life

I don’t think there is one success formula.

As women, we are constantly switching between roles. In the last few years, I have realised that having some healthy pressure brings out the best in me. Being a very energetic person, so I always need something to do and keep me focused, that’s how I function better and how I achieve my best work-life balance.

The truth is that I couldn’t do it without my family, friends and colleagues backing me up and respecting my decisions.

Do you have any tips for working mothers who are re-joining after a maternity leave

Definitely, my main advice is: become REALISTIC.

Maternity is a complete life changer and you need to know that you’ll not be the same person coming back to your workplace, as you were before and hey – that’s ok!

You will have to re-find yourself and adapt to your new role very quickly. Obviously, I had to realise that my career is very important to me, but I also have an amazing daughter now who I need to devote my time and love as well. Therefore, the trick is to take it step by step, and go at your own pace.

Don’t try to stretch yourself too thin, learn to prioritise, and you’ll eventually find the right balance. Don’t feel guilty – just listen to your needs and you will be fine.

Rove has some great program to drive Diversity and Inclusion, can you expand on why this is so important to you personally and Rove/Emaar

Since the opening of our first property Rove Downtown Hotel, we have been working to have a diverse work environment for all, regardless of gender, nationality or appearance.

Across our current six hotels, I’m proud to say we have the same number of hotel managers from both genders, and each one of us comes from a completely different background. Also, just as an example, at Rove Trade Centre we have just appointed a female engineering manager, which is something quite uncommon for this department, although it shouldn’t. In this case, we felt she was the best person for the role. Also, a working mum with her toddler here in Dubai, balancing life.

I am personally very grateful to be part of this diverse and energetic team, working on a number of internal initiatives related to female empowerment in the work environment, providing coaching and bringing inspiring speakers to boost to our Rovesters confidence which they need to grow in their careers.

We also have several people of determination across our hotels. They are very passionate about what they do, are completely integrated in their respective teams and leading their own careers.

As a senior leader have you faced any obstacles in your career which you believe were due to being a female, if so how did you overcome this?

I am fortunate that I didn’t have to go through obstacles as a female. That doesn’t mean that there are no barriers that women need to overcome. I am happy to see that time is changing and that I’m able to contribute in that movement. It should have always been about who is the best in the role regardless of gender.

However, the fact that we need to talk about having a gender balanced leadership means, challenges still exist and we need to work together to change that. Starting from c-suit levels to have that mind-set, recruit THE best personality with the correct values, not the favourite gender.

What project you have worked on are you most proud of?

Personally, it’s the ever-ongoing and very gratifying project of raising a child. Fun, crazy, exhausting and to be honest more time consuming than any book or homepage will prepare you for.

If we talk about business, the achievement I’m most proud of is contributing to the design of the brand culture at Rove Hotels.

Barely in life you get the chance receiving an empty sheet of paper and the responsibility to fill it with innovation to create something new for the market.

I joined the team before the pre-opening of our first hotel at Rove Downtown in a Cluster role and was given the opportunity to establish a completely new approach to service culture in the hospitality sector.

We kept away from the usual “Ma’am/Sir approach” predominant in the region and encouraged our Rovesters to be themselves, have authentic interactions with our Rovers and enjoy together in a playful way what they do. This has proven over the past 3 years very effective as our hotels are now topping the service score rankings for the mid-market segment across online booking platforms.

Who are your role models?

Oh… I believe there are many role models we meet and greet during our journey of life.

Thinking back, its my grandmother. I can’t imagine how she figured out life with four children, working for and managing 7 life’s including her own grandmother to take care of, producing  on her own farm in the countryside while her husband worked out of town.

My daughter, Ruby, for being so fearless, curious about life. I admire my parents, who have to adapt their lives to the ever-changing world we have nowadays.

Is there a motto that you live by?

What do we live for if not, making life less difficult for each other – Have more empathy, compassion and understanding towards the people around you.