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ON 1 JULY 2019, MAISA ROMANAINEN TOOK the helm of Holiday Club Resorts – one of the leading shared-holiday ownership developers in Europe. Today, more and more women are achieving leading roles which were once only possible for their male counterparts. There is increased exposure on gender pay gaps and gender diversification in the workplace, while many organisations have been set up to inspire, educate and mentor women to realise their full potential. Since its inception, the shared-holiday ownership industry has seen many inspirational female leaders pioneering new products and moving up the ranks to the most senior positions. Christel DeHaan is an excellent example. The co-founder of RCI now ranks 27th on the Forbes’ list of the richest self-made women in America today, an achievement which is even more impressive when you consider that DeHaan also launched and continues to make a substantial investment in the Christel House International charity. While the wider travel industry is also home to many female trailblazers, the number of women in leading roles across all industries is still somewhat small, especially with the number of female leaders in the FTSE 100 falling to six last year. RCI Ventures speaks to Maisa Romanainen, Holiday Club Resorts; Fiona Downing, RCI Exchanges; and Lisa Migani, First National Trust Company (FNTC), to discover their views on the shared-holiday ownership industry and how more women can be inspired in business. Maisa Romanainen, Managing Director at Holiday Club Resorts “I prefer to see myself as an equal, rather than as a woman in business,” explained Maisa Romanainen. “I believe anyone hoping to succeed in business needs to be brave, be bold and be active. “We are increasingly seeing more women moving into the top roles, but it is still a fact that there are less women than men in those leading positions, and this is evident in Finland too. The responsibility lies not only with the company, but with individuals themselves. “Women often have a tendency to be shy, whereas it’s important to take the opportunity, move forward, and believe in yourself.” Romanainen has certainly followed her own advice, with a career spanning 18 years at Finnish retail giant Stockmann Plc. After joining the business as a Purchase Manager, she worked her way up to Vice President, which involved running and opening stores in Russia, Latvia, Finland and Estonia.

The key thing I've learnt throughout all of my roles is to put the customer at the centre of your business. – MAISA ROMANAINEN, MD, HOLIDAY CLUB RESORTS.

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“I was trusted with a lot of responsibility from a young age and I managed fast-growing markets with lots of potential and overcame many challenges along the way,” said Romanainen. After rising to the top at Stockmann Plc, Romanainen sought a new position as Director at VR Group, which MAISA she held for more than four years, before assuming her ROMANAINEN Managing Director, role at Holiday Club Resorts. Holiday Club With seven spa hotels and 1,700 holiday homes in Resorts. 33 destinations, Holiday Club Resorts employs more than 700 people, being one of the largest shared-holiday ownership companies in Europe. “The key thing I’ve learnt throughout all of my roles is to put the customer at the centre of your business. Regardless of the industry, you must align everything to their needs, by listening to trends and analysing data. “It is far easier to succeed that way, and if it involves forging new relationships and bringing new partners on board, then do it, not only to give the customer what they want, but to give them that added extra,” said Romanainen. Looking to the future Romanainen commenced her role at Holiday Club Resorts at the beginning of July 2019, and already has a clear vision for the future of the company. Romanainen explained: “We’ve enjoyed many family holidays at various Holiday Club Resorts, and we also owned a week at Katinkulta, the largest resort in our portfolio. After visiting a few more of the resorts, I’m incredibly impressed with the company’s offering. “I have driven growth and expansion in my previous roles, and I foresee many opportunities to do so at Holiday Club Resorts with Scandinavian, European and Russian customers, using the data we already have. “I believe my experience and insight from other sectors will ensure that I can drive the company forward by building a personalised offering for our customers, which is something I have always been focused on.”

FIONA DOWNING

SVP Global Strategic Growth & Development – RCI Exchanges.

Fiona Downing, SVP Global Strategic Growth & Development – RCI Exchanges A renowned global veteran of the shared-holiday ownership industry, Fiona Downing’s impressive career has seen her working for RCI Exchanges for more than 28 years, moving through the ranks and across the pond to achieve her position with RCI’s Senior Leadership Team. “Even after all this time, I am hugely passionate about our industry and the part that RCI plays in its success. I love the variety my job brings, as we continue to strategically support our affiliates, both large and small, and meet the needs of their owners. “I have been fortunate to lead so many different areas of the business over the years including, the call centre, business development, product development, club development, revenue management, brand delivery, digital, e-commerce, Endless Vacation Rentals and affinity partners among others, and also have been involved in the launch of almost every new RCI product or initiative. “It’s one of those initiatives that took me to the United States, and it was a risk to move my family, but it paid off,” explained Fiona Downing.

Profile for RCI

RCI Ventures Q3 Q4 2019  

RCI's B2B magazine for Europe, Middle East & Africa

RCI Ventures Q3 Q4 2019  

RCI's B2B magazine for Europe, Middle East & Africa