Interview with Blandine Tridon, Labellemontagne group.
Why do you think there are still such few women in charge of ski resorts?
Blandine Tridon Labellemontagne: In my opinion, there are several reasons:
– First of all, historically in the resorts, there’s a tendency for the directors to be engineers. This is the technical part that has dominated so far, while today we are convinced that what is dominant is management and the ability to manage the ecosystem of a resort and its complexity. There is a very historical concept of ‘mechanical lifts’, in the technical sense of the term, and there are few women in technical training such as engineering schools.
– Then, there is the operational part: we see that female careers often spend a little less time on the operational side, while in the winter sports sector the operational seems to give legitimacy. We often find women on management committees, but in more functional positions. To move towards a management position of the company, the experience in the operational is usually privileged.
I was director of the Maeva brand (tourist residences) for ten years before becoming a resort manager. In LabelleMontagne, we consider that a resort manager doesn’t have a single profile. Instead, we try to cultivate different profiles, with more commercial components, management, etc. A group like ours wins by having this variety of profiles.
Few women are currently applying for leadership positions at ski resorts. I think it’s partly due to a self-censorship, which is not conscious, on the part of women, facing a profession and a still kind of conservative business sector.
For us, a resort manager must have technical knowledge, but it’s not essential, because others will accompany them. The job is to manage the whole: marketing, technical aspects, management, security. I don’t see anything there that could be a problem when it comes to hiring a woman. Unfortunately, in our recruitments, it’s not the female profiles that are pushing. We find women in positions rather N-1.
What can could be done in order to change that?
Blandine Tridon Labellemontagne: It’s important to talk about it, and I’m happy to share my experience and my journey to make a difference. In the ski lifts, I don’t meet many female counterparts, so we’ll have to cross the barriers little by little.
There are women who are making their way today and I am convinced that gradually others will join this profession.
What added value can a woman bring to a ski resort?
Blandine Tridon Labellemontagne: I often answer this question with a pirouette (laughs).
I play ping pong and I’m left handed. On the contrary, my opponents aren’t always used to playing against a lefty. When I play, I’m not thinking that I’m left-handed, I’m thinking that I’m going to win and that I’m playing, simply.
In my work, it’s the same thing: I’m not thinking that I’m a woman. I do my job, simply.
In general, diversity comes with all advantages. In a way, a female leader can afford a wider field of intervention, be it more masculine (direct), as well as more empathetic.
But I believe that a man can also look for these specific questions.
Depending on the situations, I adapt my approach.
In the mountain world, there is a great complexity of stakeholders, and, in my opinion, knowing how to modulate their mode of intervention is an advantage. It is a mixture and it’s necessary to be able to rely on competition and experience and look for more varied modes of intercommunication. Diversity and mixing are what make a business work better.
On the mountain, there’s the image of the cleaning machines driver with large arms. And then there are the women who have joined these positions. This profession is not a matter of strength, but of precision: respecting a cleaning plan and optimizing cleaning. The increase in diversity can only benefit our teams.