Ally of the Month: Antonio Bugarin, General Manager, Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
New this year, “Male Ally of the Month,” a column that focuses on the men going out of their way to support women in the hospitality industry. While we all know they don’t have to help, these guys want to help, and this new column will take the time to find out how and why they are determined to help us reach gender equality.
A seasoned hotelier, Antonio Bugarin came to Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills in 2018 from Cabo San Lucas, where he served for 14 years as a key member of the One&Only Palmilla's award-winning staff including a position as acting general manager where he helped strengthen every aspect of the famed resort. Antonio has been at the helm of the Waldorf Beverly Hills since December of 2022, his leadership team is 51% female and he also cherishes working with Laura Schofield, Area Vice President Luxury Brands, Hilton. With Hilton just having been named the top employer for women in the U.S. by Fortune for the fifth year in a row, we check-in with Antonio about why working towards gender equality is so important to him.
What women influenced you early in your life and how has this shaped your views on women in the workplace?
Without a doubt my wife. My wife and I married quite young and from day one she set ground rules which honestly, have made our thirty-year marriage a very successful one. She taught me that women can do anything men can do and vice versa, so at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, our leadership team take on the same degree of responsibility, and are all committed to delivering the highest standard of excellence to our guests.
Have there been women that impacted your career?
In my career, I’ve had several brilliant women as my direct managers and I truly enjoyed working with them. Some have actually become my role models. A common denominator between them was their leadership style – while extremely structured and organized, with an unyielding dedication to ensuring goals and responsibilities were clearly defined and consistently met and exceeded, they remained gentle and approachable. They always kept an open-door policy, which made me feel at ease and helped me build trust and immense respect for them as leaders.
Your leadership team is 51% female, how do you think having more diverse leadership impacts decision making at the hotel?
I am firm believer that we are all equal and if someone has the passion for a certain job, role or career path, gender is the last thing that matters. Diverse leadership makes for better decision-making, many studies have shown that and I have personally experienced it.
Hilton supports diverse leadership by advocating for women and supporting them with a series of benefits to help women succeed in the workplace from some of the best maternity and paternity leave programs to more recent benefit additions of fertility support. Coming next year, Hilton is adding a partnership with Parsley Health, a virtual women’s+* health medical service. This new partnership with Parsley is aimed to help women heal symptoms by finding and treating their root cause, conditions including infertility, menopause, autoimmune issues, digestive issues, heart issues, hormonal issues, and more. I appreciate the special attention Hilton gives to women's needs.
Women are also encouraged to take advantage of Hilton's leadership training programs and GM Academy.
Your immediate boss, Laura Schofield, Area Vice President Luxury Brands Americas at Hilton, is one of the most respected leaders in luxury hotel operations. What has working with her taught you?
I love Laura and the way she treats people. She is very understanding. The fact that she was a GM prior to her current role, it allows her to relate to situations she encountered and makes it easier for her to provide guidance. I know I can always rely on her and she’s always there for me when I need her most regardless of the time of day. Laura always provides an insightful perspective on any given topic or situation, helping me see things from a different viewpoint. As I continue to grow in my career as a leader, I take with me the perspectives learned from the women I consider mentors, Laura included. She also knows exactly what to say in any situation, and perfectly communicates in a way that is articulate, respectful and empathetic; characteristics of a true leader.
What advice would you give your younger self, if you could turn back the clock?
Time goes by quickly so find joy in everything you do and put your focus only on things you can control.
What about your thoughts for women in hospitality, how do you think they can best advocate for themselves?
I think women are extremely capable and have the same rights as men. I would say it’s a matter of them taking the risk, setting clear goals, and chasing them. I encourage women to remember that we work in an inclusive environment in which we all have the same goals and aspirations, and they are capable of achieving anything. And I do what I can to help them get there!
I encourage women to remember that we work in an inclusive environment in which we all have the same goals and aspirations, and they are capable of achieving anything. And I do what I can to help them get there!
What tips would you offer for men that want to be better allies at work?
Treat everyone as you would like to be treated.
Lead with empathy.
Lead by example.
Personally, you are also a father of three girls. What do you hope to see for them in their future careers?
I want my beautiful daughters to enjoy life and find joy in whatever field they pursue. I always remind them that they are unique and capable, and to continue sharpening their talents and learning, as we live in a very competitive world.
Great insights. Thank you, Antonio!