Industry Perspectives

Five minutes with ... Margaret Sowa, General Manager, Hotel Le Bleu

From humble beginnings to roles with numerous global chains, Margaret Sowa, General Manager of Hotel Le Bleu in New York, shares her career highlights and milestones

Margaret Sowa’s journey began 15 years ago in what she called a “modest but nevertheless important” fashion, as a guest transportation organiser for a large New York City-based hotel. Filled with an immediate sense of purpose, it was this role that encouraged her to pursue a career in hospitality.

Moving up the ladder to a guest services role and from there to Front Desk Supervisor, and then Assistant Front Desk Manager, Margaret realised her interest and talent was in revenue management. Excelling as Director of Revenue within the same hotel, she later went on to work for Marriott, Starwood, IHG, Private Members Club Hotel as well as United States Navy - taking on different formative roles that led to her current undertaking as General Manager at Hotel Le Bleu, a boutique hotel in Brooklyn, New York City.

Click.: What were the key moments in your career that defined your position now?

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Margaret Sowa, Hotel Le Bleu
Margaret Sowa, General Manager, Hotel Le Bleu

Sowa: It was almost as if the career found me instead of the other way around - there was subtlety in how the interest and knowledge came about. I loved the way the numbers came together to form a strategy. The whole process was fascinating to me. I also realised that as I applied myself and focused, my opportunities grew. There is not one position or experience that could define my position now, but all my accumulated experiences contributed to where I am today. A ladder, without missing a step.

Click.: What have been your major successes?

Sowa: My ability to apply my knowledge and experience, and create strategies to compete in a hyper-competitive environment and industry.

Click.: What have been the challenges?

Sowa.: I see and accept the challenges as a learning opportunity. There have been many challenges on my career path to include organisation change and learning curves. There is always a sense of insecurity that you may not be applying the optimal formula, but that's part of the challenge.

Click.: What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career?

Sowa: My career path began without a clear goal or objective. But, I cannot say that I wish I knew something before. The career seemed to have found me and once I felt that it was right for me, I applied myself in every aspect to excel. It's been fulfilling.

Click.: What has been the most surprising moment of your career?

Sowa: The most surprising moment was when I realised how much I was enjoying my work. I then realised that this was why I've been able to grow in this career and industry: love of what I do.

Click.: Did you have anyone that mentored or inspired you?

Sowa: There are many people, both inside and outside of the travel industry, that have inspired, mentored and helped me. Some in subtle ways and some in more direct ways. In different stages of my career I have been lucky enough to have people believe in me, take a chance on me and give me opportunities. I am grateful for that.

Click.: What one piece of advice would you have for someone starting out in the travel industry?

Sowa: The industry is as rewarding and fulfilling as you are imagining - but as with anything, the success is predicated on your commitment, seriousness and hard work.

 

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Takeaway
  • Margaret Sowa is the General Manager of Hotel Le Bleu, a boutique hotel located in Brooklyn, New York City
  • Her career began in guest transport organisation, where a passion for hospitality encouraged her to pursue new and challenging roles in a range of disciplines
  • A keen interest in numbers and strategy saw her move into revenue management, with new roles emerging at the likes of Marriott, IHG and Starwood
  • Her advice for those starting out? Commitment, seriousness and hard work

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