As we continue to celebrate Women History Month and following a very inspirational International Women’s day, we invited 4 remarkable Sonder women to share about their personal and professional path and what inspires them most. In EMEA we spoke to Costanza Bossi, Senior Operations Manager for Rome, and Evalyn Munge, a Senior HA based in Dubai. In NA we talked to Karel Llewellyn, a Senior Hospitality Agent based in Montreal. Finally, we interviewed Marissa Velasco, our newest Housekeeping Supervisor in Mexico.
Tell us a little bit about yourself : what’s your position and how long have you been working at Sonder?
My name is Costanza Bossi, I am Italian but I grew up in France. I studied Marketing and advertising but quickly realized that I wanted to work in Operations and more specifically in hospitality. I am the Senior Operations Manager for Rome and I am coming up on my three year Sonderversary on April 1st. I am also a proud mum of four kids aged 5, 3 and twins of 18 months.
My name is Evalyn Munge. I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. I am a Senior HA based in Dubai and I have been working in Sonder for 2.5 years.
My name is Marissa Velasco, I’ve been working in Sonder for 1 month as a Housekeeping Supervisor in Mexico.
My name is Karel Llewellyn. I am a Senior Hospitality Agent based in Montreal. I have been working for Sonder for more than 2 years now, starting as a CGS agent and transitioning to Senior Hospitality agent last year.
What does International Women’s day and Women History Month mean to you and why do you believe it’s important to take the time to reflect and honor these celebrations?
IWD and Women History Month only became known to me only a few years ago. Whether at school or at home, it wasn’t something we used to celebrate and recognize as kids. It only came up later when growing up and I think it is important to use these celebrations to raise awareness as we continue to move the needle around parity and female empowerment. It’s our responsibility to set an example for the young generation and I am hopeful that when I’ll have kids they will be more exposed to these important topics. – Karel
International Women’s Day has always acted as an appreciation and recognition of what we women can achieve and capable of achieving, not only to myself but also my fellow women who I have come in contact with or have been there for my entire life. I, personally, was brought up in a culture where women were limited to a certain lifestyle, which is to stay at home and cater to your family and husband. However, growing up in a family where my mother was the breadwinner and seeing her work so hard to ensure there is food on the table and all her kids were receiving quality education that was within her capabilities really changed my perception on what we, women, are capable of. It showed me that women are limitless. We have no boundaries, we are capable of achieving anything we set our mind to. – Evalyn
For me, International Women’s Day and Women History Month are here to remind us of everything that women have done together, but also that there is still a lot to be done. Although we have come a long way, many countries still have trouble accepting a woman as a leader. As a mother of 4 kids, I believe that it is important to acknowledge and honor the contributions of women so that my girls always know all the options they have : basically that the sky’s the limit. I love to read “Goodnight stories for rebel girls” before bedtime to show them all the wonderful things that strong women have achieved through time. – Costanza
For me, these celebrations mean being heard, honoring all the women who fought for the rights we now have. It means remembering those who are gone. It’s really important to reflect and take IWD seriously because even though it seems like we’ve evolved there are a lot of things that haven’t changed like the fear we feel when walking at night in the street, the too many women who do not have access to basic sexual education, the millions of women without fair wages orm the thousands of unpunished femicides. This day is a call to action so the world does not forget what remains to be done so that every woman can live fully. –Marissa
What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?
Where my voice was never heard and I always felt inferior and of no value. It’s during that time I came across a podcast from one of Kenyans empowering women and listened to her story and how she came out of a toxic work environment. It was like an awakening moment for me. Her podcast reminded me, I am worthy and of value. That my say matters and I have the power to raise out my concerns if I feel oppressed. – Evalyn
Fortunately I have never been in a company where my gender interferes with growth or wage. But I have suffered harassment from coworkers and customers. First I felt fear and just stopped talking to them, but as I grew up I encouraged myself to speak up and face them. – Marissa
I have faced quite a few barriers, and there are still the rare moments where I find myself living uncomfortable situations. After my first child, when I asked to slightly reduce my working hours or at least have some sort of flexibility, I was not given that opportunity, resulting in me deciding to take some time off. Another episode was when I was asked during an interview, due to the fact that I had two kids, how I would be able to handle a demanding position. Those were two completely distinct situations that I handled differently: the first made me realize that my time with that company had come to an end and that it was finally time for a new adventure. The second, reminded me that I have a voice and that I should not be afraid to speak up, which I did. Women are often asked to make choices when in reality one choice should not be at the expense of the other. – Costanza
Who hasn’t faced any challenges?! When I started working, before Sonder, I was in the restaurant industry which was very male dominated. It can be really intimidating and difficult to step forward when you’re young and feel unequal to some of your colleagues. You don’t picture yourself in some higher roles. Since working for Sonder, I’ve realized how important your work environment is. Embracing diversity is truly a value here. I know I have the same opportunities to evolve as any of my colleagues. In fact, in 2 years, I have already held 3 positions! – Karel
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
It’s the most important thing we should do as part of a feminist movement, we have to set the example and create a communities where we support and trust each other. – Marissa
As women, we should always encourage each other and never put anyone down for stupidity.
Just like in sports, it’s about being a team player and never holding anyone back. The women here in the city team are very supportive of each other. Just because we don’t want or can’t get something, like a new role or a career move, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t support the success of others. I used to say “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Having the support of friends and family has been very important to me and I plan to be there for my sisters too as I want to see them do good too. – Karel
There is something powerful when you see your fellow woman achieving their goals and winning in their fields. It motivates you, and I think we, as women, easily forget we are part of making the world a better place. That we matter and we have equal rights in society. It breaks that barrier and eliminates the fear of whether we are worth that job, or worth that recognition. – Evalyn
Seeing women succeed in their careers is something that I find very exciting. I think it is very important to support other women in their growth, helping them to achieve their goals and making sure that they know that their voices are heard. I personally want to make a change and inspire young women to always strive for better. I am a firm believer that we can do it all if we want to : Family, great careers and having a healthy life balance. – Costanza
If you could have dinner with one or 2 inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Well, my first choice would definitely be my grandmother, my mother’s mother. I never had the chance to meet her and I would have loved to get to know her. I would be curious to know more about my own mother and how she was a child but also to know more about my roots. Family is something very important to me and I am proud to belong to a family of very strong women! – Karel
Coco Chanel because she encouraged women to be confident and find happiness on their own terms. She turned her innovative ideas and skill into a successful business and transformed herself into an iconic brand we all know today. – Costanza
It would definitely be Oprah Winfrey. She doesn’t sugar coat when she speaks. She has a way of addressing sensitive topics but oozes this energy that gives you hope, that life does get better. The fact that she had to go through so much at such a young age, which I do relate with some of them as a woman, she is a woman I can look up to and be inspired to thrive for more regardless of the situation at that moment. – Evalyn