We’re delighted that Lois Alter Mark featured Linda Cormier, General Manager at Tubac Golf Resort & Spa in her latest article for Forbes.com. Below is a snippet from the interview with Linda.
Linda Cormier, GM of Tubac Golf Resort & Spa
Can you give us a little history of how you got to where you are today?
I came to Tubac with 31 years of sales and hospitality management experience. After graduating from the University of Texas with a BA in Art and Accounting, I worked as a sales and meeting planner for an engineering firm where I facilitated a high rate of new business and took a key role in planning all aspects of off-site training sessions in the United States and Europe. Because of my background working with resorts, I decided to see what it would be like to work in the hospitality business. I started at the front desk, moved to sales and was quickly promoted to positions of increasing responsibility from senior sales manager to Director of Sales & Marketing to, for the past nine years, General Manager.
Did you always want to be a hotel manager? Were you encouraged/discouraged by others?
I never planned that as my career. I wanted to be an artist first and help people heal themselves second. However, it’s very difficult to make a living as an artist so I kept taking classes to learn more, but I worked in sales to put myself through school and found I was a natural and loved it.
I got great encouragement from my friends and family to pursue my dreams and try different paths which took me to Europe and across America. My mother always said I was born with wings on my feet. But the biggest push I received was from a resort owner who saw my potential and wanted me to go for it. He convinced me that I would make an excellent leader, and told me, “It’s just like babysitting.”
As you worked your way up the ladder, what were your perceptions of the way men and women were treated?
Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, the Women’s Rights Movement was making significant strides, which I witnessed firsthand during my early career. I was the brunt of some of that inequality they were fighting. I wanted to be a bellman but they would only hire a man for that position. And I often received lower wages than a male doing the same job.
How are you treated as a female GM rather than a male GM?
Times are changing but in the beginning I very much had to “prove” myself, more so than a male GM. Being a woman in any position of leadership, one has to work harder and smarter. But I love a challenge. I rolled up my sleeves and implemented new systems. I put the resort’s priorities in place by hiring a team that derived joy from serving others and making their own ordinary day someone else’s extraordinary day.
Is there a salary inequity in this position between men and women?
If I just look at salary, yes, but when I put the other perks such as bonus, vacation, into play, it actually equals out. However, I am fortunate to work for respectful owners who will listen to a good argument. So, the ball is in my court to express the importance of equality and fight for what I believe is right.
What is the most challenging part of being a female GM?
One of the challenges for all of us in this industry today is the balance between high tech and high touch. As a woman, I tend to focus more on personal service. I lead by example, putting in long hours, and showing staff the value of smiling, greeting guests, trying to be helpful. If I do it, so will they. Sometimes your biggest weakness can become your biggest strength, and being female has definitely made me work harder and wiser.
What do you think is the difference between the way women and men run a hotel?
I do believe there is a difference in style. Men tend to be more laid back, not as quick to respond. Women are much quicker to fix. Of course, there are always exceptions. But my experience has shown that if I contact a male GM, it can take a week or longer – or never – to get a reply, whereas female GMs always respond within a day or two. And, simply put, women tend to ‘mother’ their jobs, putting in more time and effort to ensure success.
What lessons have you learned that you’d want to share with young women who aspire to reach your position?
We are living in a changing world and the torch is passing from men to women, with more women in traditionally male roles than ever before. That will only increase. If you have the passion, desire, and spirit to lead, don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and keep following your dreams. The hospitality business needs more of your emotional intelligence.