The She-Suite Magazine Highlight
As the Global head of the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center, Antonia Hock believes women have always been powerhouses when it comes to their individual career journeys, but is overjoyed to see more and more women exploring the reaches of their potential at work and in life.
Hock’s career is centered around creating meaningful customer experiences by being her “fearlessly authentic” self: “I believe that each of us has a set of guiding traits and styles that govern how we treat others, how we perceive value in human interaction, and the legacy we want to leave — even in the smallest moment. Those are the gifts that we have to give when we create an experience for [one] another.” Hock admitted this concept was hard to grasp as she found her footing in her career, but now she’s proud to share her experiences.
When she isn’t in the workplace, Hock finds value in her passions: rock climbing and mountain climbing. She strongly advocates that having passions outside of the workplace is essential for success. “I see a lot of women struggle to make space for their personal passion. As such, they let their worlds get small and it hurts their hearts, their spirit, and their energy. There is nothing wrong with being selfish … If you are happy and striving, you will amplify that into the rest of your life.”
Hock believes that the way we overcome our roadblocks is crucial to daily growth. While reflecting on her life, Hock shared her insights into perseverance as a woman in the workplace: “No bad day, big roadblock, or crazy scenario is going to unseat me. I’m going to look at it and think about what I can learn….Action is required to make change — so think carefully, plan, and then act. Fear has killed more dreams than failure ever will.”
- What does work and having a career mean to you? Is this where you derive your sense of purpose or is it something else to you?
My work has always been a way for me to make an impact and serve others—whether that is in the service of colleagues, people who work in my business, or clients. I derive a great sense of purpose in helping others succeed.
- How would you describe the current role for women in the workplace and what are you doing to redefine those roles for the better/in a unique way?
Women have always been powerhouses when it comes to their individual career journeys, and I am overjoyed to see more and more women exploring the reaches of their potential at work and in life. The best way that I can contribute to that energy is to fearlessly be my most authentic self and continue to support others on their own journey to do the same. Being authentic can be a hard road. Not every employer or set of colleagues is going to embrace an authentic viewpoint, but I believe that life is way too short to not deliver your best, most authentic voice in the service of excellence.
- What are the principles that you live by and how do they help you to attain your goals gracefully?
There are several non-negotiables for me—which include acting with integrity, being kind, giving 100% once you commit to a path, standing up for others (especially diverse individuals in all forms), and being unapologetically authentic. However, the principles that drive success for me beyond these are maintaining a sense of curiosity and wonder, staying humble and in awe of others, and having a clear, hard-won set of boundaries that allow me to be at peace with what life sends to me.
- Tell us about a time when you had to overcome a major obstacle – or make a difficult professional decision? How did you navigate them, what did you learn about yourself?
I was a young, high-performing, high-potential manager and I was invited to a very important meeting with 20 senior executives who were 95% men. The meeting room was small, with a boardroom table that fit only 10 seats, and 15 seats around the outside perimeter of the table. I arrived early to the meeting, and out of respect for the seniority of others in the meeting, I took a seat on the perimeter. After the meeting was over, I was called into my skip-level boss’ office where I was told that I might not make it as a leader in the business because I could not claim my rightful place at the table. In this culture, my seat choice was signaling to all of the other executives that I was deferential and not bold, aggressive, or confident. I thought I was being thoughtful, but that was a wake-up call for how my actions would always signal my self-concept and my ambition. I am forever grateful to those male leaders in this situation who took the time to teach me that lesson early in my career because it jolted me from the patriarchal way I was raised, and I never made that mistake again.
- When roadblocks enter your path, what steps do you take to overcome them? How is your sense of purpose connected to your career in order to motivate you enough to push past these challenges smoothly?
In Buddhism, we talk about how something will stay in your life until it has taught you what you need to learn. I look at challenges through that lens. Why has this been sent to me? How can I grow and be stronger, calmer, and more capable on the other side? This applies to my work life and my personal life. It is one life, and we are all here to grow, take care of each other, and explore until the end. Mindset is your most powerful tool.
- Two of your biggest passions are mountain climbing and rock climbing. How do you find time to pursue these passions, and how do you think having passions outside of your career helps you to stay focused and motivated in life?
I firmly believe that everyone has passions in their heart if they listen, and we should honor the life we have been given by figuring out what those are and then pursuing them. I found these two passions at the start of the pandemic, in mid-life, and without any natural skill. But, I love being outside, striving for what my body can do, and challenging myself to dare. At the end of the day, I see a lot of women struggle to make space for their personal passion. As such, they let their worlds get small and it hurts their hearts, their spirit, and energy. There is nothing wrong with being selfish. Make yourself a priority because if you are happy and striving, you will amplify that into the rest of your life (work included).
- What are lessons you’ve learned in rock climbing and mountain climbing that you also use in your daily work endeavors? Do you think overcoming physical feats like mountain climbing helps you to be more successful at work as well?
There are so many lessons that I have learned alone on the side of a mountain which is part of what keeps me engaged in these sports. Last year, I gave myself 90 days to be ready to climb Mt. Whitney via The Mountaineer’s Route. 90 days of hard training. To climb the highest peak in the lower 48 via one of the hardest, rockiest climbs. I worked hard to find a guide that would actually take me (another story), and I bought brand new gear- because I had never done anything like this. I bought new boots one week before that climb and a new pack to carry 65 lbs (which I had also never done). In short, I did a ton of things you should never do. The guys at the gas station in Lone Pine ruthlessly laughed in my face at my imminent failure. The night before, I was in the Best Western Frontier hotel—alone with a gas station burrito— questioning if I was ready, but you know what? It didn’t matter because tomorrow morning was showtime. Life and work are like that—you will never know if you are ready, but take the shot, because, in the words of Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” After all, you never know—you might just summit.
- You’ve talked a lot in past interviews about creating meaningful customer experiences by simply being yourself and being ‘fearlessly authentic.’ How do you use this concept with your own personal brand and legacy and what does ‘fearlessly authentic’ mean to you?
I believe that each of us has a set of guiding traits and styles that govern how we treat others, how we perceive value in human interaction, and the legacy we want to leave—even in the smallest moment. Those are the gifts that we have to give when we create an experience for another. That can be digital, in-person, or through another channel, but to do our best work, we need to be fully present and authentic. This was hard for me to embrace when I was younger as I thought I would never ‘get it right.’ Now, I know that I do my best work when I tap into those experiences that make me unique, and I package that up and give it to others. On a brand level, that means being deeply invested in the success of the brand and the people who bring it to life.
- What is one quality you think every woman professional needs to have in order to be successful in their endeavors?
Confidence to act is the most important trait women can harness. I have friends, colleagues, and clients who ruminate endlessly over everything. Stop. There will never be another you, and there is no one else out there who has your unique experiences and gifts. Use them and stop overthinking everything. Action is required to make change—so, think carefully, plan, and then act. Fear has killed more dreams than failure ever will.