Today is March 8, and we would like to celebrate Women’s Day by publishing an interview we just had with Renske Dommering, our Global Operation Manager and Eating Europe’s backbone. It’s an important date, which must serve as a reminder of the efforts that women in every society have faced and still face in the effort to assert their rights. You just have to look at any news report to find that in countries not far from our own, there are societies where women still have to fight hard to be considered equal to men even in aspects of daily life that we take for granted. Even in societies that are considered most advanced, there are still great disparities in the treatment of men and women and the road to complete gender equality still has a long way to go.
What’s happening at Eating Europe
In our small reality at Eating Europe, luckily, we can be proud to tell a different story: in addition to Renske, among the 12 operations managers of our company, 10 are women. We are pleased to share the experience of Renske, who, in addition to being the guiding figure for all staff members, has built up an unparalleled experience in the tourism industry.
Interview with Renske, our Global Operation Manager
When did you start working here, and what’s your role?
I started in March 2018, and I am responsible for the Operations in all of our cities, meaning I have to make sure that all of our cities are operating smoothly and according to our standards.
Tell us the funniest anecdote over the years of working with us?
There are so many! But one of the best is a cooking class we did with the whole team in the Italian countryside. My colleague Lisa found her ring in the cooked pasta. Our London Operations Manager Nicole turned out to have a briljant Michael Jackson imitation, including the moonwalk and our founder Kenny showed up wearing just an apron (and underwear, don’t worry!) The pasta ended up on the ceiling. Needless to say, there was unlimited wine at the cooking class…..
Your favorite food among the cities in which we are in?
The Roman pasta Cacio e Pepe! Can I also say French cheeses? And Czech dumplings, Porto’s Franceshina, Lisbon’s Bifana, London’s Beigel Bake, real Neapolitan pizza, Dutch herring and (our Florence manager Gaia will kill me if I don’t say this) Lampredotto sandwich.
The biggest challenge in all these years of working at Eating Europe?
Obviously COVID. It was devastating to see everything come to a halt so sudden, having to let go most of the whole team. The uncertainty for everybody. Then the challenge was to get back up without having a team. We were very lucky that almost all of our team members really wanted to come back, even though we could not guarantee any income for a while.
What is your experience as a female leader?
It shouldn’t make much of a difference. I don’t know if my leadership style is specifically feminine although I have had male managers who I think completely failed in their role as a leader. I spend a lot of time understanding the individual needs of the team in order to help them to grow in their role. That means listening a lot and always trying to understand the impact of my decisions on my team or an individual. That is something I have missed from my male leaders in the past. I try to empower people with the talents they have and give them the freedom to make their own decisions. Freedom and trust give people the chance to develop themselves in my opinion.
What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?
The tours of course! Our tours are our babies and they happen to be incredibly awesome! Everybody in the team has their own part in our existing tours and creating new tours. That team effort makes them the best in the business ending with our incredible guides who are the face of the company and deliver the best experiences for our guests.
What makes you happy to work at Eating Europe?
The people. Despite the fact that we all work remote and are spread across Europe, we work as a real team with the best people you can imagine.
How do you see the future of the industry of food tours?
The industry will keep growing. More and more we see that people realize that food is such a big part of a holiday. Over food we creates memories and make new friends!
A tip for a young person who wants to follow your career path?
Do what you like! I never had a clear career path. I always did something I liked and grew in different roles by doing that. I don’t believe you can grow by doing something you don’t like. Trust yourself that you can reach what you want if you work hard and respect the people around you. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Learn from it and move on. It takes a while, but you will get there. This cat is now full grown and probably all over the kitchen counter 😉
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