I joined HOTREC – Hospitality Europe in August 2020 as Director General. HOTREC represents the voice of businesses, such as hotels, bars, restaurants, and cafés. We work to promote their key economic and social role in Europe but also to advance their priorities in terms of regulatory environment. As DG, the job is very diverse; from running the activities of the office in Brussels to discussing development of the organisation with members, and bringing our views to policy-makers. Since I joined, the focus is really on getting the sector thrive again after COVID. The pandemic has had devastating impact on the business – economically but also morally.

Marie Audren
Director General, HOTREC

What inspired you to work in the international association sector? Would you recommend this career to others? Why/ why not?

If I have to choose among the many aspects, I would say that the interactions with different people and creating a collective view together, which supports improvements for daily business life, are key for me. This sense of collective collaboration was a driver in choosing this path. Progressing in my career within the association sector, these were the most fulfilling aspects.

I would definitely recommend an experience in the international association world. You get to deep-dive into a sector and act as a bridge between many different interests. There is a lot of energy in an association!

Can you remember a time when you needed to #BreakTheBias – either your own, or that of someone else? What lessons did you learn from this experience?

I have sometimes felt at odd being the only woman in a group, or being patronised. I was often not able to respond. This is has changed over the years. There are more and more woman in the association world, and I’ve really seen changes in the management. Much remains to be done certainly, in terms of the diversity, not just gender, butin our work environment. I’velearned that it is better to join forces with others, get closer, and meet regularly.. For a few years, I was part of the Women in Trade network; it was about content but also for support and to have fun!

How important are diversity, equity, and inclusion for the future success of associations? What have you done to improve DEI? Did it work? Why/ why not?

I am sure there are many studies about this, but, in my experience, this is incredibly important. We do interact with many different people and somehow the association can only benefit from reflecting this diversity. Take nationalities, for instance! This is important in our daily contacts with members and institutions. We have a good balance within the actual team, and I’m vigilant to maintain it. More broadly, the importance of diversity is especially pronounced in the hospitality industry where the guest-employee interaction is so important. I am still quite new, but I have seen there are many actions taken to promote diversity in our sector, including in upper management level. I hope we can support.