Claire may be one of the strongest women I have met. A fierce business woman, a caring Mum and human with a heart of gold. Jobs for Mums Malta talks to flexible working Mum Claire Zammit Xuereb for this month's Maltese Working Mum Interview.
Read along and find out how this full time working Mum makes it work to find her work - life balance that fits into her life and that of her gorgeous 4 year old twins.
Name and Surname: Claire Zammit Xuereb
Rel. status: Widowed
Children: Jack and Millie 4 years old
Work status: Full-Time Executive
Company Name: AX Hotels
Position: Director of Hospitality
Claire Zammit Xuereb is Group Hospitality Director for AX Hotels and a Director for AX Holdings. She is the Business and Marketing Strategist as well as product developer for the groups’ four hotels; the Palazzo, an Independent lido with its own restaurants and outlets, as well as the chain of restaurants made up of two pizzerias.
After successfully reading for a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in International Hospitality Management from the University of Wales and a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Centre International de Glion, Claire worked abroad to broaden her experiences and learn more about the network of tourism.
She later held various managerial positions within AX Holdings Group of companies leading to an acting General Manager post of The Victoria hotel at the age of 24. She has also held various positions within the MHRA council, and has also been appointed as Chairperson of ITS in 2010.
Tell us something about yourself. Career background. Hobbies. Anything.
I love life and to give lots of meaning to it. This may mean that I take everything very seriously, be it my leisure as well as my work. Every minute counts to me. Especially in this new life that my husband gave me. I tend to put more pressure on myself now to do the most with the time I have. Since I have had the children, I work flexibly from whichever spot I plan myself to be, be it at the office or from home.
Tell us about your Company/ Business?
AX Hotels is amongst the largest local hotel group on our islands. It is composed of 4 hotels; The Palace, The Victoria Hotel, The Seashells Resort at Suncrest, The Sunny Coast Resort & Spa, a Palazzo – Capua, an independent Lido and a number of other catering establishments including two Tal-Kaptan Restaurants.
How did your career change when you became a Mum?
Good question. It changed in every way, except the very nature of the business, everything evolves around the children now. This means that I first set their plan for the year in my calendar, and then plot my work and life around that.
That also means that I need to co-ordinate where I hold my meetings, so I am close to wherever I need to be next for them. It requires a tremendous amount of co-ordination. The pressure not to slack in any area, is huge, so I make sure that I co-ordinate everything well in advance. I sometimes happen to find myself planning a certain events many months in advance.
How do you and your children spend time together?
I manage my time with the children, by planning well in advance and sticking to the same schedule week after week so it is respected by all, consistently. Twice a week, I work from home in the afternoons, so this allows me time to be with them too. Of course, we have the weekends all for us and I make sure that I give them the best quality time I can in that time.
You seem really busy! How do you manage work and family?
The only way I manage a balance between all, is to plan far ahead as mentioned, and respecting the schedules that I set for myself, to maximise on efficiency. It might sound horrid to speak about efficiencies here too, but those that have kids and carry their family’s financial responsibilities on their shoulders, will smile as they completely understand it.
To set an example: on different days of the week, I set myself to be based in different parts of the island, religiously, as this allows me to see the different operations first hand, plus it allows me to make back to back meetings confidently, ahead of time, saving me lots of travelling time and email correspondence.
What is your childcare situation, and how do you deal with the arrangement?
I have been very lucky. If not the luckiest if I dare say. My mother is literally like my right hand. She fills in for my absence. Like all grandmothers, she loves the children dearly and has built a very special relationship with them. I have also been gifted with a very special mother in law, who not only makes time to be with them once a week, but is a natural with children.
My support system has been completed by our Nannie, who helps with the house chores and fills in with the children where needed. This is of great comfort to me. Ever since we got this help, I started having that little extra time in my day of complete attention for the children and possibly some time for me too. Priory, it was a complete struggle, my day was measured second by second.
What are your greatest professional strengths and achievements?
Marketing is definitely my strength. With that, I like to see any business to its success. I love to get a company which is not doing well, into great success. Historical success if I may dare say. That includes analysing people’s strengths and weaknesses, and guiding them through their career – a win win for both.
What motivates you?
Making a difference is what motivates me, for everything really.
Do you think it is easier or harder to be a working Mum today?
This could go without answering, it is of course much harder to be a working mum as we need to juggle everything, and your results are in the medium/long term. You could get days when you feel you have done nothing, in any area – work, home, children. Then someday, it all blends together, like a puzzle and you wonder how you made it happen.
What flexible work opportunities does you company offer?
Unfortunately, my industry does not offer a lot of flexible work opportunities. It is quite old school in this fashion. I have introduced a number of positions which allows a person to work independently from the operation, but we are a far cry from where we should be. This is a culture change we are talking about. It needs to seep in slowly but surely as it involves all stakeholders, including the partners at home.
Why should an employer not think twice about employing a Mum?
The solution to all of this, is for mums to commit to their daily targets. Be it work or home. I specifically referred to daily targets, as it makes all the difference. In the office, there is no tomorrow. Today is all you have to finish a report or to get a result. The same applies if you are working from home or flexibly in the off peak hours.
Once employers see this commitment, it will no longer be a seen as a burden, but a surplus. Because not only are mums flexible to come in, in that odd hour that perhaps others are not able to fill in, but potentially produces more, for two reasons.
Firstly, because she is proving herself once she decided to go down this route, so she has all the energy it requires plus more, and secondly women tend to see things from a total different perspective – this gives the business a broader dimension and potentially can reach it’s market in a different way other than the traditional, or new markets that it didn’t think of before. We all know it, we are a persuasive bunch.
Can women have it all? What advice would you have for Mums striving to do it all?
Everyone can have it all, but not all the time and everywhere this applies for all human beings, for everything in life. A balance in life, is key. If you are asking specifically about mums, I would say, aim at achieving that balance, and you have won the battle. Learn to accept that sometimes it fails and some other times you win. On the whole, it averages out pretty well. If that is the case, you should be very happy.
What is the best parenting advice to give to working Mums or those looking to return to the work force?
My advice is that your family comes first. If you respect that, then you need to be prepared to commit to that, by respecting the plan you set for yourself with no exception. The minute you start making exceptions, is the start of your downfall. You are the pillar. You are the one that needs to stand, no matter what. So strengthening that base, is a must. Without a good base, you cannot build anything.
I believe in women’s abilities and strengths but I also believe that women need to believe in themselves more, in order to stand all obstacles that come her way and use them to make her stronger instead of weaker.