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Katerina Wolfe, Director of Guest Services at the Conrad New York Midtown
Why do you believe it is more important now (COVID-19 impact) than ever for women supporting women in travel?

Right now, we are at a pivotal moment in the hospitality industry and personally. As women, we normally face disadvantages and at times discrimination as we work twice as hard to prove the value we bring.

What does a meaningful mentorship connection mean to you?

Having a meaningful mentorship connect for me is like having a lifeline. As someone who does my best to solve things on my own, it can feel daunting to be stuck and have someone to ask for assistance. It’s the ability to be a little less guarded when speaking about professional goals and needs, or even just being able to acknowledge uncertainty with someone else. It’s a meaningful opportunity for both the mentor and mentored to find some purpose.

In your opinion, what will be the consequence of COVID-19 on women’s careers in the absence of change?

COVID-19 has had widespread impact on all aspects of life. Unfortunately, this includes disrupting a momentum that women were building in recognition and growth in their careers. The longer this goes on, the more those efforts are stalled. We need to ensure that however long the pandemic disrupts normality, that the strides we have taken do not fall backwards.

As 2019 ended, I finally felt like I was making progress in my career again. I was back in a city I loved, I had just started a new role and finally had the coveted “director” title. The wheels were churning, I felt valued and knew I was making an impact. 2020 was going to be my year. Little did I know, however, that in less than four months, I would be calling unemployment hundreds of times a day to try and sort out benefits while on furlough, and quarantining in my one-bedroom apartment as the city and the world around me seemingly fell apart.

As the timeline for reopening my hotel moved back and the months droned on, I found myself with a lot of time for reflection. Without a job to define me, what is my purpose? What is my worth? What about my job inspired me? How can I continue feeding that until I have it back? What does it look like to thrive in the meantime? After a long time of being reactive, I was finally able to make the switch to proactive. With the support of colleagues, friends and family I started to recenter and focus on what I could develop and bring to the table in the future. I got back on a schedule, began learning a new language, decided to try my hand at something brand new. With it all, my drive came back, and I still feel like even though my career is on pause, I’m still moving forward.

Connecting with other like-minded women in the hospitality industry on all levels is what gave me an outlet to express myself with others going through the same thing. It helped me process and eventually begin to reposition and strategize. Supporting each other and ourselves with meaningful connection helped me come back to life again and find energy. That’s the role I see Thrive fulfilling. We can be each other’s sounding board, support, cheer section. With each other, 2021 can be all of our year to shine.

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