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Women in Business Q&A: Julianna Melamed-Freid, Director of Marketing & Events, The Sanctuary Hotel

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Julianna Melamed-Freid is the Director of Marketing & Events at The Sanctuary Hotel in the heart of NYC. She is responsible for proactively soliciting group and catering business and oversees all events on property. Additionally she is the liaison between the hotel's social media, publicity and marketing teams to ensure that all efforts on The Sanctuary Hotel's behalf is streamlined. At the heart, Julianna Melamed-Freid' job is to help ensure that every guest's experience at the hotel is a special one.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Being an only child reared me to be both independent and determined. Without these two integral qualities, I would not be in the position I am in today. My independence gave me the ability to build up both the Sanctuary Hotel's concierge and events department in NYC, virtually from scratch, and my determination is the driving force that ensures both departments not only succeed, but exceed as well.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at The Sanctuary Hotel?
Although my career path has not led me to many companies, it has certainly led me to a myriad of experiences. As the personal assistant to the CEO / President of a hospitality group I was able learn the behind the scenes aspect of the industry; giving me knowledge and the know-how that I would never otherwise never been able to attain. By working directly for the President & C.E.O. of The Impulsive Group I was able to gain a perspective on the industry in a year that would have otherwise taken decades. I then went onto work for a luxury concierge company where I got a broader understanding of the NYC hospitality market and client relations.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at The Sanctuary Hotel?
I'm very proud to say that my most difficult challenges have been turned into the greatest highlights of my career. In 2011, when the Sanctuary Hotel was in its infancy, I was faced with the challenge of "being" the events department. I did everything required to produce a successful event, starting from heating up hors d'oeuvres, to cleaning up after the event. Today, I am proud to say we have three beautiful event venues, Haven Rooftop and Tender Lounge and Tender Restaurant, complete with a phenomenal hands-on staff and a world-class chef. Wearing a multitude of hats and working through the growing pains has been like rearing a child, challenging and rewarding at the same time.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Confucius once said, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to live by these words. I also think its very conducive to life that my significant other works in the same industry. It makes for a stronger relationship and also gives me more insight into my work; we love bouncing ideas off of each other!

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
In my years of working in events & marketing, I am finding that women are saturating the field more and more. However, we are still facing certain challenges, bias being one of the greatest ones. For example, I've had clients who've wanted to speak to the director, (not realizing the director was me) and expecting a man to pick up the line. My greatest ally in the battle for equality has been the amazing team I am a part of. Both the men and women of the Sanctuary Hotel family have supported me and given me confidence when faced with bias.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Throughout my career I have had many influential mentors impact my creativity, performance and drive to succeed. However, it was not until I became a mentor myself that I truly understood the rewards and benefits of a mentor-mentee relationship. Several years ago I hired an intern to help me with day-to-day tasks. The intern then went on to work for the Sanctuary Hotel full time. While I was proud that I was able to contribute to her skills and know-how, I was also grateful for what she taught me. Watching my mentee thrive in the hospitality industry was as rewarding as learning how to use twitter, instagram and facebook as a direct marketing tool.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
The leader I admire most had no formal education and limited knowledge of the English language. My grandmother, who for many years was the matriarch of my family, came to this country as a poor Russian-Jewish immigrant and did everything possible (and impossible) to make sure her family succeeded. Cooking, cleaning, working, and taking care of both my parents and me was not her job, it was her life; she was the chief and commander of our little ship. It is my grandmother's work ethic, endurance and effortless composure I try and mimic in my personal and work life.

What do you want the Sanctuary Hotel to accomplish in the next year?
Even before our official grand opening, the hotel was rocking and rolling with pop-up events, guest programming and exciting dining experiences. In less than a year after opening, The Sanctuary Hotel was recognized as the International Hotel of the Year at the European Hospitality Awards. My goal for 2015 is to continue paving the way for change, addition and innovation. There is always more we can do for our guests and clients, and in the New Year, this is exactly what my team and I resolve to do! We also want to continue to build on what has made up successful, including our Service Tailored to any Request (S.T.A.R.) Program, which goes above and beyond what other concierge programs offer, making every guest feel like a celebrity. I also want to work with the hotel's management team to ensure we retain our TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.

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