In December of last year, The Venetian Resort Las Vegas hosted the property’s top female executives for the Women in Hospitality Summit led by Dr. Susan Fleming. The first-ever summit was established as a means for female executives to be exposed and enlightened to various methods of attaining higher positions within the company and also guiding and mentoring their departments.
“After having Dr. Fleming speak at a Leadership Speaker Series the year prior, we thought the extended course being offered by Cornell Executive Education would be an exciting opportunity for leadership development,” said Anna Schmid, vice president of arena partnerships. “Each attendee also received a certificate from Cornell for completing the workshop. We were able to invite all female vice presidents and senior vice presidents at the property level, as well as other leaders that were recommended by senior leadership.”
Fleming, a senior lecturer at Cornell University, began her career on Wall Street working at Morgan Stanley and private equity funds. After retiring from Wall Street in 2003, she began work as an educator teaching executives, investment professionals, MBA’s and undergraduates in the areas of corporate finance, insurance, valuation and gender bias. At Cornell, while attaining her Ph.D. in Management and Organization, her research focused on better understanding the factors contributing to a lack of women in leadership positions.
“While lecturing at Cornell, I established entrepreneur classes speaking on executive issues and gender equality within the Hotel Administration School,” Fleming said. “I soon met George Markantonis and Anna Schmid and we created the Women in Leadership Summit. When I was in private equity, there was a limited number of women on the boards of the top publicly traded companies and that is what really developed my interest in gender issues. It has allowed me to lend my expertise on female executives and provide a lens to inform others with real research.”
Fleming says her main goals in her speaking engagements is to help advance careers and also empower women and people of color, in order to increase diversity which in the end helps organizations. She also added that her goal is to stop gender stereotypes and keep people from the typical boxes that they are put in and make the executive world a level playing field.
“I’ve noticed here at The Venetian that women are a majority and that coincides with research showing that 75% of women make most travel decisions so it only makes sense that women are leading the efforts here at the resort,” Fleming said. “When I speak to a group of women I not only want to empower them to move forward in their careers, but it is also about sponsorship of their teams. It’s not just mentoring. It’s taking action in their careers while also learning from their protégés. This drives empowerment and diversity from within.”
Schmid noted that the summit received positive feedback, with most attendees stating that being in the same room for three days and sharing experiences and advice with other leaders from around the property was the most impactful part of the workshop. She also said that most Team Members say it’s challenging to find the time to really get to know other women leaders and they found that there was a lot of common ground and they were able to establish a wider network of diverse and experienced colleagues to look to as mentors during their career journeys in this industry.
“It’s not just important, but vital that we have more summits in the future,” Schmid said. “People are thriving when they are learning and being challenged on all levels. Our commitment to continued education through Sands Academy and other opportunities, like this workshop, shows that we value each and every Team Member’s career development and their ambitions to reach their fullest potential.”