International Woman's Day

Leaving SHATTERED GLASS CEILINGS in our wake.

A major driving force for Uniworld is our determination to keep pushing boundaries, raising expectations and transforming an industry as we go. Read on to learn about the women of TTC and Uniworld who have inspired this mindset.

BEA & TONI

In the earlier days of TTC, when Bea and Stanley were growing their line of hotels in South Africa, Bea found herself running the kitchen of The Colony restaurant at the Hyde Park Hotel. Entirely self-taught, Bea trained the entire kitchen staff to prepare gourmet meals at what had become the most famous hotel and restaurant in South Africa. Bea became South Africa’s first female executive chef at a time when women were rarely even cooks in a restaurant.

Bea went on to instill a value for hard work and excellent service in each of her 4 children – Brett, Wynn, Toni and Vicki. Together with her mother, Toni Tollman took a special interest in river cruising. Much of what is “Uniquely Uniworld”—our one-of-a-kind ships, delicious cuisine and meticulous attention to service—are led and inspired by this mother-daughter duo.

Ellen Sabers Champagne

THE WOMEN OF UNIWORLD

Meet the women making up the majority of Uniworld’s leadership team, including CEO Ellen Bettridge, as they discuss being female leaders in a corporate environment, in the travel industry and at TTC and Uniworld.

Toni, Bea, and Vicki Tollman

SUPPORTING WOMEN AROUND THE WORLD

At Uniworld and TTC, we believe that a crucial step in lifting up the entire world is achieved by supporting women. We are immensely proud of TTC's TreadRight Foundation for their commitment to women-led travel experiences that are reinvigorating local communities economically and culturally by increasing opportunities for women to work—and validating women’s work—while keeping local traditions alive at the same time.

Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative

Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative

A women's cooperative located outside of Amman, Iraq Al-Amir tackles the high rate of women's unemployment in Jordan by providing members with valuable training and income.

Learn More >

Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco

Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco

Nilda Callanaupa is taking proactive steps to preserve a 10,000-year-old Andean textile tradition while also providing employment to over 500 people in the Cusco, Peru region.

Learn More >

Laboratorio Giuditta Brozzetti

Laboratorio Giuditta Brozzetti

One of the few remaining traditional frame handweaving shops in Italy is run by Marta Cucchia, the 4th-generation heir to her family’s respected fabric atelier.

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Bea Tollman

VALENTINA GHERGHE

A Q&A with Valentina, who recently won Butler of the Year.

Q: What inspired you to explore this career path? What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them in your journey to becoming a butler/sommelier?

Valentina: Oddly enough, I dreamed about becoming a doctor my whole childhood, but I couldn’t bear to see so much sadness and pain every day, so I chose tourism instead. I started in restaurants, even though I hated cooking. After a couple years, an agent from an ocean cruise line was impressed with my service and offered me a job as a bartender, which I stuck with for 7 years before applying to work with Uniworld. I worked at the bar my first year but had ambitions to become a butler, so I started filling in for them during their vacations. The next year I was chosen to become a butler too. I felt like such a pioneer! I wanted to get inside this world, even though I knew it wasn’t common for women.

Q: What sort of training have you done to become successful in your current role?

Valentina: I regularly attend training sessions performed by individuals who have remarkable achievements in the butler field. For instance, I participated at training sessions with Zia Langestein, the first woman to graduate from the Ivor Spencer Butler School in London and so successful in her field that she is always requested to work important events at the British Royal House.

Q: What are some words of wisdom that help motivate you in your life/career?

Valentina: Be the best you can possibly be. You will only be successful when you love what you are doing!

Uniworld crew with a bottle of champagne

LAURENTIA PANAYOTOV

A Q&A with Laurentia, who recently was promoted to Senior Sommelier & Restaurant Manager.

Q: What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them in your journey to becoming a butler/sommelier?

Laurentia: The learning path to becoming a professional sommelier is a difficult one and demands a lot of sacrifice in order to guarantee success. I had to rethink my goals, my time and my finances to be able to balance my family needs besides my professional career.

Q: Could you tell us about your journey with Uniworld? What do you love most about your job?

Laurentia: I started in 2012 as a waitress onboard the River Ambassador. In 2014, Uniworld became the first company on the European rivers to implement the sommelier position and so I became the first Sommelier. I was recognized by senior management and colleagues as being hardworking, thirsty for knowledge, openminded and having strong knowledge of food and wine. Since then, I’ve trained three generations of sommeliers and enriched thousands of guest experiences. I love to make wine an accessible subject of conversation by using everyday language and to expose the whole purpose of enjoying wine by associating it with food. [Wine is still a notoriously intimidating subject, but I don’t think it should be that way].

Q: What advice would you give to other women looking to pursue career paths that aren’t traditionally female-oriented?

Laurentia: In order to be successful, you must know who you are, have well defined goals, be open-minded, adapt quickly and learn something new every day. Knowledge is power. When a challenge presents itself, take it and push through the limits of your comfort zone and never settle for average.

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