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The Ups & Downs of Being a Female CEO

Confession: I’ve cried in a business meeting

Accent Inns BC hotel chain CEO talks about crying

Confession: I've cried in a business meeting.

You do not know what shame that confession brings me.  My only consolation was that I was 7 months pregnant.  Well, the first time it happened.  The second time I have no excuse, other than being female, and in the corporate world tears are not  cool. And that brings me to my topic today:  the  ups and downs of being a female CEO.

I was recently interviewed by a journalist writing about woman in business and was asked, “What do you like about being a woman?”  At first I thought this was a ridiculously irrelevant question and wondered if a man would ever be asked the same question?  I gave some silly answer, but I admit I’ve thought about it a bit more since then.

Though my emotional side might be a downfall, it is also one of my strengths. The woman’s touch that I bring to the role of CEO places an emphasis on personal relationships be it with my customers, suppliers, and above all, my team.  I try to have a connection with each employee, writing personal notes on every pay cheque, working alongside them in the housekeeping department, or asking for the valued opinion.

As customers you may have received a hand written note from myself or my father over the years. I write thousands of personal letters each year which has my chiropractor and physiotherapist hopping, yet it is extremely personally gratifying
as it allows me to connect with the people so important to our success.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges I have of being a female CEO is switching gears from being the boss to loving wife to mother of two and then back to CEO again.  Sometimes on my way into work I have to make a serious mental adjustment, “I am the CEO, I am the CEO”.  I do, really! Home is home and it is so natural to be a mom, but the working world requires more fortitude.  I have to adjust my personality to be more assertive and if the situation warrants it, more demanding.

Aside from wearing sassy frocks (my answer to that journalist) I love being a leader; an inspiration to young women; getting that depressingly low percentage of women-on-boards number up; collaborating with my team to make Accent Inns better and I love it when I’m so moved by happiness or compassion that I get a bit verklempt.

So there you go, you’ve heard my deep dark secret.  What about you, have you ever cried on the job?