Sisters are doing it for themselves
Natasha Mckim talks to two sisters with a close working relationship.
Can you imagine working every day with your sibling? Would there be fights or would it be harmonious? Julia and Helen are two sisters who have taken the recent changes in the Aberdeen economy in their stride. They use their relationship to make their work easier, and to benefit their clients.
Julia and Helen have a very normal sisterly relationship. On a trip to Sweden once they squabbled so much their parents built a wall of coats and bags between the two in the car. It is a tale which many will be able to identify with.
But the sisters were little then – now the ladies are grown up and spend their days supporting each other and working together at The Aberdeen Altens Hotel.
Helen McLoughlin, 42, and Julia Leitch, 39, are from the Midlands originally. Helen relocated with her husband, who manages a golf course, and Julia followed soon after.
“It is my fault,” said Helen.
“We had family in Scotland and aunts and uncles. Four months after Julia came up, our mum moved as well.”
The girls have different academic backgrounds – Julia did business studies at Coventry Business School before doing a placement with Marriott Hotels. She is now the sales office manager and is closely involved in organising meetings, events, weddings and conferences.
Helen came into hotels by chance after an English and European literature degree. She originally wanted to be a lawyer, but worked in the Marriott Hotels doing silver service during university and graduated into the business centre after her studies. She now works directly with clients in her role with business development as the director of sales.
Helen said: “It is fast paced but I get paid to talk, which I am good at. Hotels are all I have ever known.
“I am constantly meeting new people and it is exciting doing it in Aberdeen. Places are being more creative now.”
Julia said: “I don’t think there has been a hotel unaffected by the economy.
“By not being a corporate brand we have more flexibility to work with our clients.”
The two girls are close and admit to finishing one anothers sentences. It is a relationship which comes in handy as they work together at The Aberdeen Altens Hotel, including when Julia covered Helen’s maternity leave.
The ladies will often find themselves at open evenings and exhibitions together. They work closely, with their desks right next to one another.
Julia said: “We know exactly what the other one is thinking.”
“Our general manager understands our relationship,” said Helen.
“We are given flexibility, trust and freedom. The family ethos of the hotel comes across to the clients when they see that we are sisters. It is a good talking point.”
Working together could be seen as stressful, but the sisters use their relationship to their advantage. Management and communication skills are key to their roles. Talking is essential, but they believe listening is more important, whether it is in a small meeting, massive conference, or to each other.
Helen said: “I wouldn’t enjoy it as much without my sister.”