Aminath Abdul Rasheed – Chef de Partie at JW Marriot Maldives Resort & Spa

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Travel Trade Maldives spoke with local women at the forefront of the Maldivian hospitality industry. Their contribution is magnitude in elevating the tourism experience, reshaping the industry for future leaders, and ensuring gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.

Aminath Abdul Rasheed from Huvadhoo Atoll started her career in the hospitality industry as a guest service agent (GSA) at the age of 17 years. Due to her age, she was offered a scholarship to study at the Faculty of Hospitality Maldives (FHTS) and that’s when she started her career in culinary.

What intrigued your interest to become a chef in this industry?

Since I was studying hospitality, I got to experience all departments and that is where I got the chance to explore the culinary world which I felt was a completely different experience than home cooking.

I still remember during the recruitment day when I was asked if I had to choose another department to work in which would it be and without even blinking an eye I said, “Kitchen”, but I never had the knowledge or any idea what the culinary world entailed. The deal was sealed when I experienced FHTS during my diploma.

What is your biggest personal achievement so far?

My biggest personal achievement has been that I have never compromised my passion for culinary or with my self-respect. I’ve turned down many offers from well-known companies because they wanted a female to work in the kitchen but not as a Chef – and I’ve held my ground of being a Chef.

Being a female Hotelier, do you think that it is easier than before? How did the Maldivian Tourism Industry change over the last few years?

About 7 years back when I started my career in the kitchen, I applied to more than 20 resorts and many restaurants as a Commi or as a trainee. I didn’t get any answer from a single place, the only mail I received said: “Unfortunately we would like to inform you this we are looking for male for the position”. I gave up hope and I applied as a receptionist in the small resort of 30 rooms. After the interview, the front office manager informed me that I got the job. I risked it all and asked her if she had any vacancy in the kitchen, she was taken aback, but she was very glad I asked because they were looking for a Maldivian Chef and I grabbed the opportunity. That is how I started my culinary career. But now for anyone who wants to start a culinary career or hospitality career, it is much easier as we have a lot of internship programs and more local empowerment programs by various brands.

What do you think is the next big step to ensure gender equality in the country?

I would like to see companies hiring female associates not just to fulfill criteria of a percentage or ratio of gender balance on paper. I would like to see them hire them for their skills and I can say this with confidence even if their method is different the result will be either better or equal.

What advice would you give to other ladies looking forward to starting their career in the hospitality industry?

Don’t compare yourself to the men around you. You’re not a man, you’re a woman, and women are built differently than men. The way men have some strengths we do too, we just need to find that and do the same job our way. We often start competing with men, you can’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree.