Aneta Lewandowska's Story
I started in hospitality in 2001. I thought it was a coincidence but in retrospect, it was my destiny. I had always wanted to be a psychologist or an architect. I started as a receptionist in ibis Ostrobramska in Warsaw and thought it would be a three-month stint before leaving for the States; from a student’s perspective, it seemed rather boring. In reality, the hospitality industry drew me in and has kept me for more than 20 years.
At the time, there were few hotels in Warsaw and the challenges faced by HR departments were different – there were many candidates and few jobs, and intelligent, entertaining and open-minded people and passionate hoteliers were selected. It was thanks to the energy we have given each other that I have stayed in Poland and in the industry.
Meanwhile, I graduated from a hospitality school and then got a postgraduate degree. I started my adventure with the industry in economy hotels, advancing from receptionist to general manager. In 2014, I became operations director at Mercure Warszawa Grand Hotel and in 2017, I joined Sofitel Warsaw Victoria as a deputy manager and advanced to GM duties after a year.
This variety of experiences allowed me to grow as a leader and shape my career based on my preferences. I am the first woman and the first Polish woman to hold the position of deputy general manager and general manager at Sofitel Warsaw Victoria. The directors in 5-star hotels in Warsaw meet regularly and I used to be the only woman general manager at these gatherings. Now, this is changing and women in the industry can spread their wings in every segment.
The hotel business is my passion and I am strongly self-motivated; I am driven by the fulfilment and pleasure that I derive from what I do. I am also inspired by my team’s enthusiasm, expectations, ambitions and needs, and our guests’ requirements. Heartfelt and spontaneous expressions of gratitude from guests and associates fuel me to take on new challenges, and these are also a driving force.
I like people, I like listening to them and helping them, and after the lockdowns, we needed to rebuild many things with the team, in operational matters, training and communications. In addition, in Poland, we are facing challenges because of the events in Russia and Ukraine.
The biggest cost is that the job cannot be left at the hotel which, like a hospital, is open 24 / 7. I constantly feel that I could reconcile family and professional life better, as well as conserving my own strength. I am grateful to my family for their understanding and support.
We see each other only briefly every day, so we try to go out together as often as possible. Travelling is how I rebuild the energy to do the job with dedication and enthusiasm. I hold sacred keeping the promises I have made to my family and I am there when they need me.
Hospitality is a wonderful industry that provides opportunities for many types, characters and personalities. I have been in this business for 20 years and I have never been bored; no two days have been the same, and this is one of the more inspiring aspects of being a hotelier. We can offer the most joy to people who like people.
Hotels are diverse in location and market segment – airport, resort, business – and it is important to find a place where you feel happy and fulfilled. The Sofitel Warsaw Victoria gives me that feeling. It’s tough – but I love a challenge; it’s dynamic – but I hate boredom.
Food & beverage, the creation of masterpieces of culinary art, great galas, star chefs, prizes in gastronomy that inspire more, celebration of life – all this is part of your world when you work in hospitality. A network such as Accor creates additional opportunities for people who love to travel and explore new cultures.
To young people who are starting out: get to know and understand yourself, and then find a place where you will be able to use your talents, passions or interests without constraints. If you find such a place, or maybe even someone who will support you on your journey, you will be able to succeed, and derive joy and satisfaction from what you do professionally.
- Aneta Lewandowska
- General Manager
- Sofitel Warsaw Victoria