Celebrating Women of Fairmont Pacific Rim

Friday, March 8, 2019 marks a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This day also calls action for accelerating gender parity. In celebration of International Women’s Day, Fairmont Pacific Rim is committed to awareness against bias, celebrating women’s achievements, and giving back to our local community. The theme for International Women’s Day this year is #BalanceForBetter, better the balance, better the world. We recently sat down with three iconic leaders within Fairmont Pacific Rim to learn a little more about these fearless females and how they came to the positions they hold today.

March 8th, 2018

Celebrating Women of Fairmont Pacific Rim 1

Younghye Kim, Director, Guest Relations

Meet Younghye! She is our Director of Guest Relations at Fairmont Pacific Rim. A typical day for Younghye includes providing strategy, project management, organization and analysis to improve the guest experience at our hotel. In other terms, she drives innovation and the consistent improvement of our guest experience to ensure a seamless and elevated stay each and every time.


Tell us a little about why you were drawn to this as a career and what has kept you there.

My childhood goal was to become a doctor and I was accepted into medical school in university. However, I was attracted to hospitality because of its ever changing nature and the excitement that comes along with it. Being of Korean descent, the industry appealed to me as in Korea, hotels are very aspirational and coveted. Throughout my hotel career, I have been able to wear many hats and work in many different departments. The diverse growth opportunities and challenges are what inspires me to continue in this field.


What achievement are you most proud of to date?

There is not one specific achievement that I am proud of. What I am proud of the most is my growth and ability to be a chameleon at the hotel. I can adapt and understand most departmental needs because of my past experience in working in a wide variety of teams throughout the industry. This, along with an understanding of our guests needs, allows me to be able to see the big picture and be creative in curating the best experience possible for our guests.


What advice would you give your younger self?

Do not underestimate what you can achieve and don’t doubt yourself. You have a lot to offer, do not hesitate to show your strength.


What qualities do you believe are most important to be a leader? If not all these qualities came naturally, any tips on how to cultivate them?

Being in it with your team, experience the struggles as much as the victories. We are our greatest asset to each other and need to treat each other with kindness, respect and empathy. It is always important to show your team strength, lift them up, and lead by example. I find this is all cultivated through mutual respect.


What are three key words you would use to describe yourself?

Intuitive, confident, detailed.

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Elizabeth Hovey-Smith, Director, Food & Beverage

It all began with Dirty Dancing: meet Elizabeth (Liz) Hovey-Smith, Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Director of Food & Beverage. Self-described as extroverted, fun loving, and energetic. But also competitive and active. Liz hails from the Canadian Eastern Seaboard province of New Brunswick and has called Vancouver home since 2014. She’s also about to compete in her first ever triathlon this weekend!


Tell us a little about why you were drawn to this as a career and what has kept you here. 

I watched Dirty Dancing as a child (in retrospect, I didn’t really grasp what the movie was actually about until much later in life) and thought that it looked like fun to work in hotels. No one in my family had done this and it seemed much more interesting, so I went for it. I am the youngest child and all of my siblings had travelled extensively, and as I looked up to them, I wanted to do the same. I have had the opportunity to work in different parts of this beautiful country, also a bit in the USA, and I studied in Europe.


What achievement are you most proud of to date?

Earning my Master’s Degree. It took a lot of discipline to write my dissertation and I was very proud to finish and graduate. I studied at the Swiss Hotel Management School in Leysin, Switzerland where I obtained my Master of International Hospitality Management degree. (Fun fact: we have several SHMS grads at Pac Rim!)


How many different hotels and roles might we see on your CV?

Five: St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Lake Louise, Alberta, Maui, Hawaii, Chicago, Illinois, and Vancouver, BC. My roles have ranged from 3rd Level Cook to Concierge, Front Desk Agent and Supervisor to Housekeeping Manager and then Executive Housekeeper, and from Director of Front Office to Director of Food & Beverage.


What qualities do you believe are most important to be a leader? If not all these qualities come naturally, do you have any tips on how to cultivate them?

Caring, supportive and curious. Tough when necessary. I have challenges showing my emotions, and learning how to show my vulnerabilities has been hard for me but so important for my team and reports. Learning how to be vulnerable is extremely important when leading people.


 What advice would you give your younger self? 

Don’t worry about what they think! I still give myself this advice.


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Mitchelle Fransisco, Assistant Executive Housekeeper

Mitchelle Francisco, AKA Mitch, is one of our fearless females leading the housekeeping brigade at Fairmont Pacific Rim. Beginning her hospitality career in Food and Beverage, Mitch quickly was recognized for her calm demeanor, natural leadership and strong ability to build rapport with her colleagues. She stepped into leadership roles at our Willow Stream Spa, and giovane cafe before taking on the role as Assistant Executive Housekeeper. Oh, and not to mention, welcoming two wonderful children in the mix. We got the scoop on how she handles the daily duties of being a mother to stepping in and taking care of our colleagues and guests every single day, always with a smile and positive attitude.


Tell us a little about why you were drawn to this as a career and what has kept you there.

I wanted to be a doctor, but during university I realized I’m afraid of blood, so instead of working in a hospital, I decided to work in the hospitality industry. My mom was also an amazing manager all throughout her career, and I wanted to be like her and be remembered through the relationships she forged with people along the way.


What achievement are you most proud of to date?

In my careers as a leader at Fairmont Pacific Rim, my time spent leading the team at giovane days are the ones that bring warmth to my heart. That little department really allowed me to learn the importance of taking care of people and also the brand. On the other hand, in my careers as a mother, my 1-year old sleeps 12 hours straight since she was 2-months old.


What advice would you give your younger self?

“Grace not perfection.” Enjoy the process of transforming a culture. It’s very magical.


What qualities do you believe are most important to be a leader? If not all these qualities came naturally, any tips on how to cultivate them?

Be trustworthy. Do what is right even when no one is looking. Be grateful and be resilient – Oogway in Kung Fu Panda said – “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called a present.” Your circumstance may change with a blink of an eye. Great leaders can roll with the punches. Lastly, There needs to be ‘heart’ in everything you do, it makes the journey so worthwhile and meaningful.


What are three key words you would use to describe yourself?

Lead, Love, Laugh.


Stay in the know of what’s hot and happening at Fairmont Pacific Rim! Discover Pacific Rim Life, our blog which is driven by art, music, fashion, wellness, culture, culinary and cocktails, all making up the DNA of the hotel and the core of Vancouver’s vibrant social scene.


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