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Women In Front

Celebrating women in leadership

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality. At Accor, we celebrate diversity and inclusion. Here we share profiles of our women in front, and their journey into leadership.

Sunny Goo | Mercure Auckland Queen Street

I was always keen for an adventure since I was a little girl. Without even knowing where New Zealand was, as a young teenager I took the first opportunity to move countries and came to live in a small town near the Waikato River as an international student. From that point on, life has been an interesting journey to where I am now. 
I started my career working as all-rounder in the F&B department as an attendant, as well as a cleaner. On my days off, I requested to learn about reservations, which opened an opportunity for me to move into the reservations team. I was fortunate to experience RWC2011 as Revenue Manager and joined Accor in November 2011 as Front Office Manager at Mercure Auckland under Ed (Now Grand Mercure Auckland). 
Then I had a short secondment in Dunedin as Hotel Manager, moving from there to join Paul and the Novotel Auckland Airport team for three years. I was then off to Sofitel Fiji! All these positions offered me wonderful opportunities to extend myself, grow, and learn under outstanding General Managers. I am very grateful for their guidance and advice. 
Finally, after four tropical years in Fiji, in March 2020, with Covid-19 lockdowns starting in NZ, I returned to Auckland to be with my family. During this time, an opportunity came up as pre-opening General Manager at Mercure Auckland and I also gave birth to my son Charlie during this transition. 
It has been a wonderful, challenging and rewarding experience managing this project but we made it! 
I look forward to my future with Accor.

Gillian Millar | Senior Vice President Operations, Accor New Zealand, Fiji & French Polynesia

Gillian Millar is the Accor Senior Vice President Operations for New Zealand, Fiji and French Polynesia. She was appointed to the role in April 2017, based in the Accor Regional Office in Auckland. This is the first time a female leader has held this strategic role for New Zealand’s largest hotel operator. Gillian is responsible for managing Accor interests in the region.
Early in her career, Gillian Millar worked for AccorHotels’ Darling Harbour hotels and Sofitel Melbourne, re-joining AccorHotels in 2012 following the merger with Mirvac Hotels. At that time, Millar was Regional General Manager Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia for Mirvac and she was subsequently appointed General Manager, The Sebel and Citigate Albert Park Melbourne (now Pullman and Mercure Albert Park).
Following a number of General Manager appointments and an Area General Manager role in Melbourne, in April 2015 Millar was appointed Vice President Operations Western Australia.
“The mobility and development opportunities that come with being part of such a large operator like AccorHotels has led me to this exciting position.’’

Jo Finnigan | Hotel St Moritz Queenstown - MGallery

My journey to becoming a General Manager was somewhat through osmosis! I began my hotel career back in 2001 having spent almost a decade in commercial real estate in Auckland, Sydney and Wellington. I had fallen for a gorgeous guy who lived in Queenstown, and so off I went to live in the mountains & marry my snowboard instructor! 
A career in hotels began the instant I walked into the lobby at ‘St Moritz Novotel Suites’ – little did I know that my initial role as Sales & Marketing Assistant would lead to 14 years+ (eventually Director of Sales, Distribution and Marketing), and becoming 2IC to the then General Manager. At that time, my General Manager and I worked for years in close collaboration (and whilst having our families), and that’s where the osmosis happened. 
When the opportunity arose to step into the General Manager role it was under most unfortunate of circumstances – I felt a real clarity that continuity for all of our team was paramount, and that I was ready to lead.  
I still love the diversity of ‘General Managing’, no day is ever the same!

Lisa Ireland | ibis Christchurch

The Hotel industry has afforded me a diverse career on both sides of the Tasman. Sydney born and raised, I worked for IHG for ten years in Sydney and then crossed the ditch to join Accor with Sofitel Queenstown.
I have been fortunate to work across most operational departments and moved into my first executive housekeepers role when I was 24 years old. I had always considered myself a career executive housekeeper until arriving at Sofitel Queenstown in 2010 .
There I was so lucky to work with an amazing mentor Vincent Macquet who believed  I was capable of more, moving into rooms division manager and then operations manager for Sofitel Queenstown. After 5 years with Vincent I was given the opportunity for my first General Manager role at Mercure Queenstown resort and now hotel manager at ibis Christchurch
I have 3 children 11, 12 and 15 and the organization that goes into running a household and hotel operations are not to dissimilar. I believe if you are organized you can do anything!
True success comes from a strong loyal team behind you and being ready to catch the curve balls. No two days are the same in hotels and this is what I get the biggest kick out of.

Michelle Spinks | Peppers Clearwater

Michelle Spinks is the Resort Manager at Peppers Clearwater, Christchurch. Michelle has been with Accor for the past 9 years, where she was most recently General Manager at Mantra PortSea in Port Douglas and prior to that General Manager of Mantra Frangipani in Broome. 
Originally from New Zealand, Michelle returned home in December 2020 and took up the role of Resort Manager at the newly refurbished, Peppers Clearwater. Michelle has been in the Hotel industry for 25 years, her drive for self-development and willingness to embrace new challenges has provided a strong foundation as she has transitioned into her new role and life back in New Zealand. 

Sharyna Te Puia | Grand Mercure Wellington

I always knew I wanted to work in Tourism but never had a specific field until an opportunity arose as part of the opening team at Novotel Wellington.
I started in Front Office before doing a Graduate Management Traineeship and working across what was just the 3 hotels back then. 
I have spent my career in Wellington which is my home town and the place I love! I have been lucky to experience all the brands across all departments.
I am currently working at Grand Mercure Wellington as the Hotel Manager. Being a MIQ hotel has offered some new experiences and challenges especially working with the many agencies involved.

Mareile Jerosch-Hoehn | Grand Mercure Puka Park

“Be more” is my favourite sentence from Heartist. Be more and you can achieve anything in Accor. I came to Accor with a varied background in tourism, property development and chronic pain therapy. 
Pauanui being my home town after coming here as a 19 year old from Germany I started working at Grand Mercure Puka Park when my son was 2 years old, I enjoyed it and soon became Senior Assistant Manager, changed later to Sales Manager and am now General Manager of the hotel. I am blessed to be working with so many wonderful colleagues within our hotel but also across the company, which makes for a fantastic work environment. What excites me most about team members is if they are ambitious. 
We work in an industry where you can work yourself to the top, make the most of it and reach for the stars. 

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