In honour of Women’s History Month, we’d like to take a moment to recognise the incredible work and contributions of the women who work at Olala Homes. This week, we had the pleasure of sitting with Michelle Jaw, CMO of Olala Homes, to reflect on women in positions of leadership, work-life balance and her advice for women in hospitality.
Tell us about yourself: what’s your position in the company and how long have you been working at Olala Homes?
I’m CMO and I’ve been working here at Olala Homes since 2017. I grew up in Taiwan, where I studied Foreign Languages and Literatures and Psychology. Later on, I found my passion for international marketing and business management, and moved to Barcelona to pursue my studies at ESADE Business School. I’ve always loved travelling, so for me it was an amazing opportunity to dedicate myself to the hospitality industry. Now, I’m also a mother of two daughters—3 and 1 years old.
In your opinion, what steps has Olala Homes taken to support the professional growth and empowerment of women in the workplace?
At Olala Homes, we believe that building an inclusive and equitable workplace is key in order to foster a sense of belonging for all our team members. We’re committed to making consistent efforts to promote equal opportunities of career advancement, equal pay for equal work and a safe and respectful work environment for all the women in our team. The company understands that creating a culture of respect and inclusion is crucial for empowering women to thrive and succeed, and I am very fortunate to work in a company with strong women every day, in various fields – operations, marketing, finance, guest care, etc.
Can you tell us about a time when you were inspired by other women in your professional career?
There are countless times I was lifted up by other women around me throughout my career path. I’ve been inspired by my female managers with their empathy and professionalism, and I’m also inspired by my team members’ strong passion, creativity and determination. I always feel motivated and supported by the vibrant energies women have to care for each other, and to create great solutions to the challenges we face.
What challenges have you faced in your career and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges for me is juggling between work and family. I feel both are very important for my self-identity and I can contribute a lot in both fields. But at the same time, I only have 24 hours a day. Frankly speaking, I haven’t overcome the challenge, and I believe that most career women would also agree that it’s a constant struggle, but I’ve been trying different strategies to build that integration between my various roles.
First of all, acknowledge that “work-life balance” is not an object you can find and that’s it. It’s more of a dynamic balance like riding a bicycle, depending on the situation each day you’ll need to shake a bit (or sometimes a lot) to the left and to the right in order to keep going.
Secondly, prioritise well and delegate. When my own time and energy is a scarce resource, it’s crucial to build a strong team and community, and learn to brief well and delegate the missions to the right people.
Finally, be your greatest supporter. In the midst of all the responsibilities, it’s easy to give up time for yourself. But if we do it too often, it can lead to burnout and in the long run it’s not sustainable. While we talk about supporting other women, we should not forget supporting ourselves, no matter how small the action is. Be aware of what makes you happy, and carve out time for it; even if it’s just for 5 minutes, it will make a big difference to your wellness.
What qualities make a great female leader?
I think there is no one mould that all female leaders should fit into; that would be underestimating the potential of women. However I do think there’s still a lot of challenges women face in modern society, and the world needs more female role models to shine with their authentic self. And to be able to do that, we should connect with ourselves more, and to explore big questions like who we are, what our strengths are, what our passions are, which directions we want to move forward, and where we need help. I like to encourage women around me to think about these questions, share their thoughts, and make their voices heard.
What advice do you have for women in hospitality in 2023?
The hospitality industry is an amazing place to be in right now, with so much evolution and new opportunities emerging, and yet challenges never decrease. I believe hospitality professionals share the same enthusiasm of travelling and creating an impeccable experience for their guests, and one advice I’d give is to fuel that passion and continue our efforts to create a safer and better travel experience for all women, no matter if they are solo travel girls or mothers with children. Our services should be thoughtfully designed to ensure that they meet the needs of all women, regardless of their travel circumstances.
Book you’re reading now? The Second Shift
Band/singer you’re listening to now? I like to listen to Spotify playlist by theme, and just be surprised with what comes.
What other passions do you have besides your work? Trying out restaurants and cafes
Best plan for the weekend? Play with my daughters, have some time to read a book, have a date with my husband in the evening, and take a nice bath before bed.
A place you’d like to visit? Cuba!