Anna Derygo, director of F&B, InterContinental Doha The City. Anna Derygo, director of F&B, InterContinental Doha The City.

How did you enter the hospitality industry?

My father worked at the German Embassy, which meant we naturally hosted many events for the diplomatic community everywhere we lived. Being around food, guests and personalised hospitality came naturally to me. It was very rewarding to pull off successful private functions at home. I wanted to choose a career where I could utilise my linguistic skills, passion for interacting with people, travelling and being able to explore different cultures and customs. Two choices were put on the table: following family tradition and becoming a diplomat, or becoming an hotelier.

What are some of your responsibilities in your hotel?

I am in charge of the largest department of the hotel — F&B services. The F&B team focuses on successful execution of events promotions, colleague engagement, quality of product and services delivered.

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You have not only worked in different continents, but you have also been educated across countries. Tell us a bit about your early years?

I spent my early days in Kiev, Ukraine; majority of my middle school and high school was in Vancouver, Canada and I spent my final two years of education in Taipei, Taiwan, graduating from an American school. Moving around taught me to be flexible, adapt, understand and appreciate different cultures and diversity.

In your opinion, does leadership in F&B tend to be male-dominated?

Most females tend to choose a role where they can balance personal and professional life mid-career, offering them more ease within a certain leadership role. It’s not a matter of competency, it’s a question of dedication, drive and determination. I have been very fortunate to travel the world gaining a lot of experience that allowed me to shape my career. In my opinion, most female directors tend to be more demanding, precise and persistent than their male peers.

You have spent a lot of time in leadership roles. What drove you to rise to the top?

Being a Taurean, I have a very strong personality and naturally get myself involved in various projects on my own. I love to learn, to challenge and to make sure that I don’t miss any opportunities that will allow me to learn. I enjoy leading projects and teams, and seeing the end results of a goal from input of everyone’s efforts. I have always taken risks and opportunities that will enhance my experience, challenge me and [make] me a stronger leader.

What are a few trends that you’re seeing in F&B in the Doha market?

These days it’s mostly about health conscious, Asian cuisine and comfort food. People have made a rapid push towards health and wellness. Asian cuisine has also grown to include funky cocktails, matcha lattes and the dumpling craze. People are also opting for simple comfort food, which we miss and love; breakfast bars, rustic home foods and comfort flavours are all increasing in demand.

What do you consider some of your career achievements, and what ambitions do you hold for the future?

It’s been an achievement being able to expose myself and gain experience in diverse environments, from classic heritage mountain resorts, to luxury city properties to multi-branded cluster properties. For the future, I want to continue to challenge myself further; concept development perhaps on a corporate level, being able to share all of my previous international experience. I [want to] develop great leaders around me and continue to be part of future hotel openings and integration teams.