“I am learning to embrace my perfectly, imperfect life…”
Carol Roncoletta believes that no idea is ridiculous and no dream is too big. Skilled in languages as well as PR and Marketing, Carol is passionate about communication and being able to convey messages in different ways – including her own very special message for International Women’s Day…
Hi, please introduce yourself to our readers.
I’m a proud mother of two children (aged five and a year and a half) with an exciting career in the Public Relations and Marketing industry. I have been holding the position of Director of Public Relations and Communications at Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa for the past five years. I am of Lebanese origins and have been happily living in Kuwait for the past ten years.
Tell us about your education.
My academic years were in Lebanon where Arabic is the language of instruction at the primary and secondary levels, with French and English introduced early in primary school. Since then, I developed a growing love for languages – particularly French and Italian. Therefore, I initially chose my career path in Translation and Living Languages and graduated after four years from the Holy Spirit University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in this field. Soon after starting my working career, I felt like going back to studying and pursuing another degree. So, I chose Human Resources as it helps developing personal and organizational skills; it was an additional educational asset which actually helped me start in the world of Public Relations and Communications.
What was your first job out of college and how did you land that position?
Right after college, I explored a range of fields from translation to broadcast journalism to copywriting. As you can tell, all of these are interconnected with communications and the experience of creating, structuring and conveying messages in different ways, which is what I am passionate about.
What made you go into Marketing and Public Relations?
There are many reasons behind that, but mostly I love that every day is different – no two days are ever the same. Creativity is also a must, so you’re constantly flexing your creative muscles as writing and creating is a big part of any role in PR and Marketing. Of course, along the way, you meet great people and learn from them. This really matters because it has a direct impact as what you do today makes a difference on what tomorrow will bring you.
So overall, I see Public Relations and Marketing as a lifestyle, it becomes part of who you are and the life you live. I also believe that PR professionals have special characteristics in common – they are good communicators, creative, love socializing and building relationships with people from different backgrounds. They enjoy venturing out into the world and have an investigative and persuasive nature which allows them to always be on top of the latest trends and news in the industry.
Tell us briefly your professional journey to date.
It all started in Lebanon where I landed my first serious contract with one of the leading Telecom companies. I started as a Communication Assistant where I was managing internal projects and then moved on to the external PR projects and media campaigns. I found myself flourishing in this area and my responsibilities grew and became more interesting. Then I moved to Kuwait and was offered an exciting opportunity in PR & Marketing in the hospitality industry. Soon after, I wanted to change and I worked for a renowned luxury retailer leading the division of PR. It was a great learning experience where I had the opportunity to lead with creativity and pro-activeness. After a couple of years, I was approached by the pre-opening team at the Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa, offering me this extremely motivating opportunity. This is how I went back to the world of hospitality which is vibrant, lively and always interesting.
What is a typical day like for you?
There’s really no such thing as typical in the day of a PR & Marketing professional. The one typical thing is that wherever I am, I am always woken by an alarm. The only thing that stays awake 24/7 is the Jumeirah Messilah Beach. So, I start my day by quickly going through my emails and messages to ensure that I am up to date before making myself a cup of hot chocolate and milk. Then starts the rush in the morning to drop my son to school and head to my office by around 7:30am. My next step would be to catch up with the newspapers, social media and the most pertinent news stories of the day. In a hotel business, it is common to have morning briefings with the teams to ensure that everyone is on top of their daily tasks, work is smooth and guests’ experiences are up to their expectations. It’s a great opportunity as well to get creative and draw inspiration from each other. Next comes the long list of emails to deal with and the last minute requests before moving on to the PR projects and media campaigns that we’re currently working on and the ones that are coming up. Of course, this is interrupted every now and then with a visiting guest or a meeting with a company or an agency. On different occasions, I have lunch meetings with media, guests or even team lunches. So much of the day is spent by multitasking and following up. Around 6 pm, it’s time to head home where my little ones are waiting expecting some fun time. So, here starts another activity where I have to use different skills to start the entertainment and forget about the professional side. By around 8pm, they are in bed and how I’d wish that it’s my bedtime too! But it’s the time where I catch up on the day with my husband over dinner. There are other evenings, where we’re organizing an event at the Jumeirah Messila Beach or I am invited to an event or even hosting a dinner at home, and so on…
What social media tactics are you leveraging?
In the fast paced world we live in today, leveraging social media to support and enhance our PR and Marketing efforts plays a vital role in our strategy. It helps increase our Hotel’s awareness and positioning online, improve sales and drive more traffic to our social channels. Therefore, we ensure that we stay active on the main platforms, be it Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat.
Each channel has its own tactic based on the profile of our audience and their preferences. Content generation is also taken into account. It consists mainly of developing awareness and understanding what Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa and Jumeirah Group represent. Then comes the focus on the engagement of the people who follow us, be it guests, media, influencers, celebrities, travel agents etc. We have a wide variety of people who follow us from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and international markets as well. We push out news and information that are valuable and would like people to know about such as offers and packages. We also share some ‘behind the scenes’ details that focus on the Stay, Dine and Relax experiences that Jumeirah properties are renowned for. We also take into consideration our guests’ feedbacks and every now and then we post videos of their experiences with us. Another tactic we use is to repost the beautiful pictures that our followers share while they visit us. It’s our way to show appreciation. Competitions are also very popular and we receive high engagement rates as soon as the post is live. In the end, it becomes very rewarding.
What would you say is your biggest achievement?
If I look back, I would say that leading all the PR & Communications activities that contributed to the successful positioning of the Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa as one of the top resort destinations in Kuwait is one of my biggest career achievements. It took a lot of effort and learning. This wouldn’t have been done without the great team members that I have. Along the way, I welcomed both my children which made me the proud mother I am today; this is definitely my biggest personal achievement in life.
When it comes to making connections with people, what would be your suggestions?
A genuine smile, that’s the first thing that comes to my mind. It puts people at ease before starting any connection. In my nature, I also avoid being judgemental of other people’s actions or backgrounds; I prefer to search for common interests to make the most out of each person I meet and treat them the way they like to be treated.
Has having a family impacted your decision-making process?
To a certain extent.Family takes the priority over taking decisions whether at work or even on a personal level and the moto of taking any decision is always Family Comes First.
A lot of women feel that they have to choose between family and career either because of societal pressure, or lack of support from a partner. How do manage everything so gracefully?
I am very grateful for being able to succeed in my career which is my personal satisfaction. At the same time, having a family is a dream come true. Maintaining a balance between them is not as easy as it sounds as I constantly try to be at the right place at the right time. But I am learning to embrace my perfectly imperfect life and I feel lucky to have a fantastic support at home and at work.
Have you experienced a disadvantage because you are a woman in this industry or region?
Not at all. I believe a woman adds her own special touches and creative approaches in the world of Public Relations and Marketing. Let alone the Hospitality industry where it’s all about thoughtful experiences and making guests simply feel at home. It is harder though to prove yourself, but it’s all in the approach, communication and achievements.
Who are some of the women you’ve looked up to in your life?
I have been influenced positively by many women throughout my life. One of them is my mother, who is also my best friend. At the start of my career as well, I had a great mentor who used to be my direct manager. I have learnt a lot from her, mainly the discipline at work and the right planning. I am happy we’re still in touch despite the distance.
What are some of your hobbies?
I have a lot and I don’t get to practise all of them! From time to time, I like cooking for my children and inviting friends over. I love socialising and welcoming people to our house. Travelling is definitely a must. Reading is a pleasure. Biking is my freedom and hiking is a return to nature for me.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
While there are diverse places to see in this world, I would choose Italy as my top destination. There are many great reasons to love this country, from the irresistible cuisine, to its lively people and its interesting culture. Every region in Italy has its own special and unique character and Italians have similar temperaments and cultural values as us.
What is your favourite cuisine/food?
I am a fan of Mediterranean cuisine.
What is the best advice you have been given and by whom?
My husband once told me, ‘Don’t look at other people’s gardens, look at your own.’
Is there a motto or mantra that you adhere to or believe in?
I once received a pillow when I was little. Written on it was, ‘Life is full of ups and downs’. So, I grew up with this in mind and learnt to embrace both life’s ups and downs. You will have experiences that might bring you down which is part of life, but you must find a way to regenerate and lift yourself up. So, with every downhill, there is an uphill – a lesson that you will learn all your life.
What do you think is important advice to give to young, female, PR professionals?
Be passionate as this is the driving force that keeps you going. At the end of the day, you can make a difference in what you do and whatever you do becomes a reflection of who you are.
Your message for Women on International Women’s Day?
So many messages can be sent on this special occasion, but I believe the most important one is to say that each woman is a beautiful human being. Her ideas and convictions matter, no idea is ridiculous and no dream is too big. I encourage them all to be true to themselves, to do what they love and love what they do and they can accomplish anything.
Photography & Video: Hamad AlAinati (@7mdphotography)
Stylist: Musaed AlMutairi (@musaed_1980)
Outfits: Harvery Nichols, Kuwait (@harveynicholskuwait)
Creative Director: Jameel Arif – (@jameelarif)
Location: Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel and Spa – Kuwait (@jumeirahmessilahbeach)