Breaking the Glass Ceiling for Women & People of Color

Garine Ferejian-Mayo, Chief Commercial Officer of Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, shared inspiring words as she encouraged attendees to proactively advance their careers in an intimate virtual roundtable discussion hosted by SVLG’s VP of Business Development Pedro David Espinoza on Tuesday.

“Don’t sit back and wait for someone to tap your shoulder,” she said. “You’ve got to find the opportunity and you’ve got to take [it].”

Currently Chief Commercial Officer of Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, Ferejian-Mayo is a veteran of the hotel industry with more than 25 years of experience in hospitality. She has also held leadership roles at Fairmont, Loews, and Starwood Hotels, most recently serving as Head of Commercial for the Core-Managed Hotels & Luxury division of the InterContinental Hotels Group.

But it wasn’t always an easy path. An immigrant from Lebanon, Ferejian-Mayo has a deep understanding of the mindset necessary to advance from difficult circumstances and make the most of one’s opportunities. She encouraged attendees to embrace cultural differences, and see their diverse backgrounds as a professional advantage rather than something to downplay.

In addition to her personal perspective, as a C-level executive, Ferejian-Mayo is keenly aware of the business case for diversity, equity and inclusion. She seeks to widen the pool of applicants when hiring to achieve a more diverse workforce. 

“It’s very important that we have that balance across our team,” she said. 

And once that group has been created, it’s essential for each member to be a team player and support our colleagues in every endeavor, she said. Relationships are everything—our networks are our biggest assets, and we need to be able to confidently connect with others. 

“It’s very important for you to be able to walk into a room and not know anybody, but when you walk out, you should have five to seven connections,” she said.

Especially given the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to be kind to one another and stay close to current and previous colleagues. 

“As a society, we’ve gone through a lot in the last 18 months,” she said, adding that we need to “take care of each other, be kind to each other.”