On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the women who have made significant contributions to Kitopi’s growth and success. This year’s theme of #EmbraceEquity resonates with our core values of creating an inclusive environment that values diversity and encourages everyone to be their best selves. We sat down with some of Kitopi’s leading women to hear about their experiences working for the company, their proudest moments, and their advice to other women looking to enter the industry.
Heike Virmond, Chief People Officer
I strongly believe that human connection and care for each other are what make work enjoyable. Personally, my biggest source of pride is engaging with the whole organization to see what makes Kitopi a unique and best place to work. I advise women entering the industry, that they should have lots of grit and be passionate about being confronted with continuous challenges. With the fast-paced industry, it's important to keep your own professional and private priorities as clear as possible to have a balanced life.
Rajashree Vichare, Global Director - People Operations
I take pride in building a sustainable HR function across six countries for Kitopi’s people, every single day. As a woman leader, I encourage other women to take the lead in driving economic growth in the industry and to be innovative.
Sabine El Najjar, Managing Director of KSA Kitopi
I am proud to have taken on the role of MD of KSA Kitopi, as it continually challenges me to get out of my comfort zone and do more operational heavy work. I have found immense support, recognition, opportunity, and inspiration in the F&B industry. I would advise women to find their passion and not be afraid to pursue it. The industry has room for growth and is looking for creative and innovative leaders to drive it forward.
Katie Connor, Head of Branding
When I was seven months pregnant, I was promoted as the Head of Branding, which gave me a roar of confidence to know my CEO believed in me and saw me as someone who truly added value to the company and who could be relied upon- no matter what my gender or situation. I believe that there's no reason why women can't achieve what a man can as long as they keep learning, working hard, and self-improving. My advice to women is to know their opinion and experience is valid and worthy and to always ensure they're heard and support other women.
Ecaterina Geru, Marketing Manager at Right Bite
My biggest highlight was building a really strong social media team that exceeded the set expectations at Kitopi, as well as taking on a lead Marketing role at Right Bite. This allowed me to contribute to 60%+ growth in 2023. I am most proud of managing a team that reconstructed Kitopi Owned Brands' social presence, hitting all the right targets like growth, engagement, and views. My advice to women is to take on challenges one step at a time, do their personal best, and enjoy the process.
Laila Al Nahawi, Manager - Quality and Training
I take great pride in delivering excellent customer experience. My biggest highlight has been representing CX in two events - Global All Hands and Customer Service Week - where I believe that CX is all about collaborating and using technology to create a fantastic customer experience.
My proudest project is designing the Quality Framework at the Customer Experience Center for voice and digital interactions. When asked about advice for women wanting to get into the industry, I quote Leonardo da Vinci: "Learning never exhausts the mind." I recommend being curious, asking questions, and always thinking about how you can enhance the customer experience.
Rana Al Maeeni, Head of Marketing at AWJ
I am extremely proud to have been a part of AWJ’s journey over the past five years and the recent Kitopi acquisition of AWJ. I take pride in the growth of the marketing department and the creation and development of successful brands like Sushido. My advice to women is to be confident in their abilities and never underestimate their potential to make a positive impact. I believe that empowering women to take on leadership roles is critical to driving progress and innovation in any industry.
Ranime Loutfi, Manager - Architect & Interior Design
As a designer, I strive to create functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces that foster community and collaboration. I am most proud of my design work in the Kitopi office, which has had a positive impact on the team's workday and happiness. My advice to women pursuing a career in design is to embrace their creativity and push boundaries. External factors such as budget or space limitations should not hinder imagination. A great designer finds creative solutions to transform a space to meet its intended purpose and fosters community and inspires creativity.
Soraya Nadine Yazdjerd, HR Manager
As the HR Manager at AWJ, which was recently acquired by Kitopi, I take pride in my contribution to the acquisition process from an HR perspective. In my opinion, seeking advice and guidance from inspiring mentors is crucial for any woman to achieve their goals. I recommend working closely with mentors to gain knowledge and support for your own career advancement.
Tania Bilani, Marketing Manager
I believe in doing what I love and doing it passionately. I am excited about the constant learning opportunities that come with my job. There's never a day that goes by that I don't learn something new. My biggest highlight is learning something new every day, whether it's a piece of advice from my boss or a new insight from an intern. I am most proud of how the overall marketing team has come together, working closely and efficiently with one common goal in mind - to grow Kitopi's brands in the long run. My advice to women looking to get started in the industry is to love what they do and do it passionately, as it makes all the difference.