Rivero Delgado – Area Vice President: Singapore, Malaysia and the Maldives for Marriott International

Rivero Delgado is the Area Vice President – Singapore, Malaysia and the Maldives for Marriott International. 

Rivero’s exceptional background and leadership skills have led to stellar performance across more than 50 hotels in three different countries. With the substantial growth in these regions, her primary focus has been expanding the core and luxury portfolio of hotels and resorts in all three countries. 

We had the privilege of speaking with Rivero to learn more about her leadership style and how it has been integral to her success in this industry. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

As Area Vice President for Singapore, Malaysia and Maldives with Marriott International, I am responsible for driving the performance of Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio of hotels across these three countries. I am also leading the Marriott International Luxury Asia Pacific Council and have been appointed Chairman of the Human Capital Committee for the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA) and the Executive Board Member of the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI).  

My passion for the hospitality industry started from an early age and upon graduation, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in this field. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the most amazing people in renowned hotels and resorts around the world which shaped me into what I am today. 

Outside of work, I am passionate about travelling and exploring new cultures. I am also a fitness enthusiast and enjoy staying active and healthy.

Can you share your journey to becoming the Area Vice President of Marriott International for Singapore, Malaysia & Maldives?

I am very proud to say that I have only worked for Marriott International in my entire career and I started the day after I finished university. When I started my journey, my first job was as a trainee pool attendant when I joined Marriott International in 1998 in the Food and Beverage department, followed by a stint in Rooms Division before venturing into Sales & Marketing and then rose through the ranks to become General Manager for various hotels throughout Europe. I moved to Asia in July 2015 as Market Vice President for South East Asia and India for The Ritz-Carlton, The Edition and Bvlgari Hotels and Resorts. In December 2016, I was appointed as Market Vice President for three notable markets in the continent – Singapore, Malaysia, and the Maldives, and promoted to my current role as Area Vice President in March 2018.

How do you balance your professional and personal responsibilities?

While we live in a culture that’s always connected and we may not be able to have it all on most days, I think a healthy balance can be achieved. 

I feel that having a clear purpose in my journey helps keep me on track. I usually take some time to pause and realign priorities for that moment and think of the bigger picture. 

Those who know me know that I am very particular about my morning routine.  I love a good workout and exercise is a proven stress reliever so I schedule my day to ensure it is the first thing that I do as it helps me clear my mind, plan the day and keep my spirits up. 

I find that it helps a lot to have a strong support network, both at the workplace and at home and stay organised.

Can you share some insights on the current state of the hospitality industry in the Maldives?

I think the Maldives, through years of history, has set up a strong foundation for running the tourism industry. The country is a pioneer of tourism around the world and has done an excellent job of maintaining its status as an aspirational destination. This is credited to the country’s natural beauty and the hard work of all the people in this industry. 

While more destinations are opening up around the world, I am still optimistic about the future of business in the Maldives.  I believe that once people have explored other places, they will inevitably return to the Maldives. It is a timeless destination with many people dreaming of visiting the Maldives at some point in their lives. I have heard the phrase ‘One day I want to go to the Maldives’ so many times. 

Can you discuss your approach to leading a diverse team in a multicultural environment?

I realise the importance of diversity, equality, and inclusion as it is ingrained in our DNA. Marriott International has a philosophy of prioritising these values in everything we do. When I consider the teams I work with and the hiring process, whether in resorts, city hotels, or corporate offices, I always seek out individuals who are better than me and to ensure diversity I strive for a mix of different nationalities, talents, and exposure to different countries, as well as a balance of genders, but the priority is always talent first.

Leading a diverse team in a multicultural environment requires a unique approach that values, respects, and recognizes the differences among team members. At Marriott International, we put people first and value diversity and equality. We believe in creating an inclusive and open work culture where all employees feel valued, heard, and respected. My approach to leading a diverse team is based on a few principles like open and honest communication, celebrating diversity, leading by example and staying true to our company’s core values.

In the Maldives, we are making an effort to attract more women to the industry. I have observed positive developments in many countries where we are working towards this goal. However, there is still much to do, and I believe that as a company, we must take the lead in addressing this issue. We visit local islands, target universities, and communicate that Marriott International is a good place to work, but this will take time. In my few years of taking care of the Maldives resorts, I have seen a positive evolution in this regard.

How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the hospitality industry of the Maldives?

I am currently subscribed to various travel journals and receive input from the company. We also have third-party sources that provide and consolidate information. To stay up-to-date with market trends, I make time to read and keep up with these sources. I currently oversee a global team of experts in Operations, Sales & Marketing, Revenue, Human Resources, Finance and Engineering to deliver the utmost experience for our guests. We regularly attend conferences, seminars, and trade fairs that focus on the hospitality sector. These events provide a platform for us to network with other professionals and gain insights into the latest trends and developments. I engage with my colleagues and partners in the industry through constant discussions and feedback sessions. This helps me gain first-hand information on their experiences and insights into the latest trends and developments in the hospitality sector in the Maldives.

When it comes to luxury resorts, I am very involved with my team to understand customer behaviour. Whenever I visit a new destination, I make an effort to visit other hotels too. I usually take some time to visit another resort to stay updated on any changes and trends. In the hotel business, being curious is a win and you have to push yourself to be up to speed. That’s how I do it.

Can you discuss your experience in managing multiple properties and ensuring their profitability?

At Marriott International, we use different KPIs to measure our operations. These include revenue, market share, guest experience, and stakeholder partnerships. We prioritise making our stakeholders happy and ensuring obvious returns on investment when opening new hotels.

Profitability is also crucial for our business, and we need to have expertise in understanding the market and partnering with local providers. Without profitability, there can be no revenues. Therefore, we prioritise positioning ourselves well and doing a good job of attracting guests to our hotels. We then adjust our business model without compromising the guest experience and expectations, as they are the ones who bring in the business.

Although operating resources have changed significantly in the past two years, with increased costs in areas such as electricity and food, we strive to ensure long-term sustainability in our operations. We put in efforts and focus on bringing returns on investment that satisfy stakeholders without compromising the guest experience.

Can you discuss your leadership style and how it has contributed to your success so far?

When I get into a new role, the first thing I do is observe and my priority is human capital which means the associates that work for us are of the utmost importance I’m not able to understand how much potential we have if I don’t understand the team around me and make sure that the associates are set up to be successful and focus on their strengths.

People form the bedrock of any organization and we must embrace a mindset of tapping the unique strengths and experiences of their people to truly grow. Different perspectives can spark creativity, innovation and help organizations spot and seize new opportunities. I enjoy developing talent and people. I always keep in mind that someone allowed me to grow and that I would like to do the same for others. It is also my duty to make sure I develop the talent I have with me and to prepare the pipeline of general managers for the company’s future.

We have to listen to make the best decisions and be fair. We, at Marriott, put people first and I try to guide and follow these principles.

Do you have any advice for those eager to join the hospitality industry?

I’m an advocate for anyone willing to join this industry. I always believe that we have the responsibility to encourage and transmit the passion of the business to others. And if anyone is joining, or thinking to consider joining the industry, I think it’s extremely important that they visualise themselves and dream big. Because in this industry you can do whatever you want. You just need to make sure that you go with a company that follows the values and principles that are similar to yours, and then allow them to guide you, teach you, and educate you on the business. 

The hospitality industry is an industry that brings something very unique, unlike others. There’s no routine, there are new discoveries at all times. You stay connected with people, and you stay connected with travel to discover the world, and that is very unique to our industry. I am very passionate about what I do and I love being a hotelier and serving people.