Women in Business: Doris Greif, Regional Vice President Europe, Jumeirah

05/17/2015 04:54 am ET | Updated May 16, 2016

A German national, Doris Greif was appointed Regional Vice President Europe as well as General Manager of Jumeirah Frankfurt in October 2014. Previously General Manager of Jumeirah at Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi, Greif has extensive experience working in the hospitality sector. She first joined Jumeirah in 1999 and since then has successfully undertaken a number of senior roles in the company including Executive Assistant Manager in charge of rooms at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, General Manager at Jumeirah Beach Club Resort & Spa, General Manager Operations and General Manager at Jumeirah Emirates Towers. She left the company in 2008 to take on the role of Chief Operating Officer - City Operations at DIFC Investments LLC before re-joining Jumeirah in 2010.

How has your life experience made you the leaders you are today?
My first boss was of the opinion that women belong in the kitchen and shouldn't pursue a career in the hotel business. I was denied a promotion because I was a woman, and that put me on the transfer list immediately. There have been other times throughout my career where if I hadn't stood up and said, 'I want that job', I wouldn't have got it. My experience has taught me that we, as women, need to put ourselves out there and have confidence in our abilities.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Jumeirah?
After my transfer to the Hilton in Dubai, my new boss was a fantastic mentor to me and I am still in touch with him till today. I learned a lot from him and he encouraged me to take on new challenges. I believe that it is very important to feel you have the support of your direct boss and this is something that I have brought to my management style at Jumeirah.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Jumeirah?
My highlight was being appointed General Manager of Jumeirah Emirates Towers in 2004, having managed the Jumeirah Beach Club for the 4 years previous to this. Jumeirah Emirates Towers is a leading property in the city of Dubai and a dream to manage. During that time I spear-headed various initiatives including the Chopard ladies floor for female travellers, and enhanced the status of the Boulevard.

The challenge was to establish and grow Jumeirah Group from what was a Dubai-based hotel brand to what is now one of the fastest growing hotel groups with a world-class portfolio of hotels and resorts. In 2001, we took over the Jumeirah Carlton Tower in London and at the time, this was our first and only property outside of the UAE. Today, we have 22 properties around the world, and just announced the launch of our first Venu hotel on Bluewaters Island in Dubai - Jumeirah Group's new contemporary lifestyle brand.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
A work-life balance is hard to manage and does not necessarily exist in reality. Always remember the fact that you are a woman is a good thing in itself!

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
I've gained the utmost respect for my colleagues who work to take care of their families - always support and make them feel valued.

Secondly, to read all documents carefully before signing them!

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Honestly - I don't. In October 2014, I started my new role as Regional Vice President for Europe and General Manager of Jumeirah Frankfurt, and it involves a lot of travelling.

My family is from Munich, so I try to spend every second weekend with them. I also love spending time with Ricky - my golden Labrador.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
There is still the expectation that women should stay at home to raise their kids and they may be perceived as bad mothers if they don't. This happens across all industries, but in the hotel industry you have to be even more flexible as a new opportunity may mean that you are transferred to a different country, and there are longer working hours.

Across the group, we do have quite a number of female General Managers, and it is great to know that you have the support of one another and can share experiences.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
It has made a huge difference - my General Manager in Dubai was my mentor right from the start and I owe him a lot.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
My idol was Ms Gunthi Katzenmaier, who was voted "Manager of the Year" by Hilton International in 2001 and was GM in Budapest-Hilton and Berlin-Hilton. She was a truly amazing woman.
I first met her during my apprenticeship in Munich - at the time, it may surprise you to learn that I was considering becoming an auto-mechanic. I looked up to her as she was the first female General Manager at Hilton back then (appointed in 1987). She was a great role-model and inspiration for my future career.

What do you want Jumeirah to accomplish in the next year?
I would like Jumeirah Frankfurt to maintain its position as market leader in Frankfurt in 2015. In addition, I would like to see Jumeirah's European properties continuing to grow stronger and work more closely together, particularly with the exciting re-opening of Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa in Mallorca in March.