Q&A With Naomi Hammond - Mantra Group

Mantra Group is Australia's largest home based hotel and resort marketer and operator with more than 20,000 rooms under management across Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.

We recently sat down with Mantra Group PR Manager - Australia Naomi Hammond to talk about business travel, her professional career and daily work life.

In a position like yours, how do you stay on top of things, stay motivated and maintain a routine?

The two things I love most about my role is its fast pace and variety. On any given day, I can go from strategy development, to managing an issue, to launching a new hotel, and hosting travel media. To manage my workload, I’ve become extremely good at prioritising and setting up systems and procedures to ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

How did you make it to your current position and what is your best advice (top tips) for other women who want to crash through the glass ceiling?

This is my second stint at Mantra Group. I was previously employed as a Public Relations Executive for more than four years and, after a period working in corporate affairs at The Star Entertainment Group, I was invited to return as Public Relations Manager. While not glass ceiling related (PR is a very female-dominated industry), my best piece of advice for women aiming to break into a management role is that, on some occasions, it’s best to leave a role with seemingly limited advancement opportunities to gain further skills and broader experience elsewhere. It certainly worked for me.

Did you have a mentor? If so what was your biggest learning?

I’ve had an array of different people guiding my career at different stages. Some of the biggest influences have come from accidental mentors who’ve had a significant impact on my development, perhaps without realising it. One piece of advice, which I often replay in my mind, is to give my focus to key projects/announcements and outsource, where required, the smaller less impactful tasks.

From your travels is there a place/destination where you experienced an Aha! or light bulb moment?

I found renewed gratitude on a recent trip to Fiji.  Meeting people who have so few material possessions, yet are so fulfilled and happy, left a lasting impression on me.  It’s easy to get caught up in the thick of things and forget just how lucky we are.  We live in a country full of abundance and opportunity and often never fully appreciate what we have. This trip left me extremely thankful.

How do you plan a long-term career path that can have flexibility for further study, travel and/or parenthood?

This question is particularly timely for me as I’m just about to take maternity leave. I’m currently very focused on ways in which I can keep my career alive while I take a period of leave from the office. To stay relevant, I feel it’s so important to maintain professional relationships, attend industry events, and keep abreast on industry news and trends.

Have you moved between industries? And if so how did you do it?

While I’ve always worked in communications, I’ve moved between public relations and corporate affairs roles. Sharing many commonalities and both necessitating strong communications skills, there are also many differences such as the audiences they speak to (and understanding their interests and requirements). However, I found switching between the two roles an easy process as fundamentally they share the same skills.

What’s the best way to ask for a pay rise?

Ask yourself why you deserve a pay rise. Are you taking on extra duties? Are you exceeding your targets? Have you improved the business?  You’re never going to convince your boss that you’re entitled to a pay rise unless you have a strong argument and know your worth to the company.  Also, as timing is everything, make sure you schedule a meeting and make it clear you would like to discuss your pay.  No employer likes being put on the spot.

There is consensus for more women to truly progress into senior leadership their male colleagues also need to be on the journey – have you experienced or know of men who have demonstrated this kind of support and what did they do?

I’ve had many senior male colleagues who’ve advocated for me throughout my career, giving me fantastic opportunities to lead, manage projects and other team members, and to rise through the ranks. But of all the men in my life, my husband (and his willingness to change his work schedule to support our family) was most critical in me accepting my current role.

How do you pay it forward with female colleagues coming through the ranks?

I think it’s so important to pay it forward by mentoring the next generation of PR professionals. We’ve all been there - fresh out of uni and eager to learn and I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced the profound effect mentorship can have. I have a budding PR professional who spends a day with me a week learning the trade. I’ve also held a series of monthly comms sessions for those within the business who’d expressed interest in learning more about the field.