Cover Photo: Marriott International

Balancing two young kids, self-care, travelling and a high-ranking job is no easy feat but this supermum gets it done with ease and grace

How I’m Making It is a weekly series in which Tatler speaks to influential individuals about their unique journeys and what keeps them going.

Many will agree that being a working mother is one of the hardest roles some women have to play. However, when you add regular travelling and a high-ranking position in the pressure-cooker hospitality industry to the equation, it just kicks everything up a notch—and Rivero Delgado, the Area Vice President for Marriott International, certainly knows that. 

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Gritty, passionate and effective, Delgado began her career as an intern at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and is now a seasoned leader who has been in the luxury hospitality industry for more than 20 years.

Armed with a degree in hospitality from the Universitat de Barcelona and, later, an MBA in IESE Business School, the mother-of-two joined The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company (which is part of Marriott International) as a pool attendant at Hotel Arts Barcelona.

“I set up the pool, laid out the towels and made sure that the guests were having a good time at the pool, which, in a resort, is the most important area of a hotel,” Delgado says of her first job. “I learned the basics of hotel business—how it is important that guests have a wonderful stay and I loved that I was doing my best and exceeding guest expectations at the same time.”

As a young woman, Delgado knew that she had a great passion for the hospitality industry and that she found immense joy in it; so it didn’t take her long to begin climbing the ladder at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

She quickly moved from her role to become line staff at the food and beverage side of things and then later became a front office manager. 

As someone who believes that experience in all sectors is necessary in order to be a good leader, Delgado happily joined the housekeeping team at The Ritz-Carlton Qatar at one point before moving back to Hotel Arts Barcelona where she worked in the rooms division team.

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“Internal switches to different departments are crucial as it helps one to understand the different personalities, capabilities, and the overall importance of each unit,” Delgado shares. “Travelling and moving around to different countries is also very important in adopting a global mindset which helps greatly in having different perspectives to a problem.”

She believes that effective leaders are made and not born and that this comes from experiences and self-development. “We all possess qualities that could make us a good leader and we all learn and better ourselves from trial and error as well as experience.”

In 2007, Delgado became the hotel manager of The Ritz-Carlon Abama and took over all the processes while being in charge of implementing brand standards and operational procedures as well.

Her experience meant that when she went back to Hotel Arts Barcelona in 2008, she was welcomed back as a hotel manager, a role she held for two years.

In 2016, after spending a year and a half as Market Vice President, Delgado decided to join Marriott International in the same role. She helmed the Singapore, Malaysia and Maldives branches and oversaw all the brands in Marriott International.

Her tenacity and leadership qualities saw Delgado quickly getting promoted from that role in 2018 to Area Vice President, a role that she continues to hold.

“In my role, I ensure that the hotels under my portfolio keep in line with the company strategy. I spend at least 50 per cent of my time with the leadership team and the other 50 per cent on owner relations,” Delgado shares.

“It is also my duty to make sure I develop the talent I have with me and to prepare the pipeline of general managers for the company’s future,” she continues.

Certainly, judging by how many leadership roles Delgado has held in her career, it is clear that she is a passionate and tenacious leader.

“I enjoy developing talent and people. I always keep in mind that someone gave me an opportunity to grow and that I would like to do the same for others,” She explains.

“People form the bedrock of any organization and employers must embrace a mindset of tapping unique strengths and experiences of their people to truly grow. Different perspectives can spark creativity, innovation and help organizations spot and seize new opportunities,“ Delgado continues saying. 

As a mother of two young sons, aged nine and 11, Delgado has learned how to prioritise and balance her duties as a parent alongside a demanding career. 

“In my humble opinion, there is no such thing as the perfect balance. I simply try to manage by setting up priorities in my professional and personal life,” Delgado explains.

“Ask any working parent and they will tell you that is not easy to juggle both work and family. However, I have found parenthood to be a fulfilling path over the years and have learnt to strike a balance by establishing a strong support network both at the workplace and at home, staying organised and factoring in ‘me’ time,” she continues. 

To ensure that she manages it all, Delgado makes sure that she sets aside her weekends and does things with her kids such as a simple dinner, watching soccer on television or going on a bike ride together.

“It’s all about celebrating the small things that give me the opportunity to spend time with them,” she quips. 

When it comes to leaving her kids to go to work though, Delgado has to ensure that she remains focused and goal-oriented. 

“We need to ensure that we do not feel guilty with our choices between work and family and that we feel good making our decisions because the moment you feel guilty, it means that the right balance is not there,” Delgado shared. 

“It’s also very important for a working mom to pick the right company that understands and gives them leeway to find the right balance between work and family,” she says before adding that Marriott International has always given her the flexibility to manage home and work life well.

Though she keeps a busy schedule, Delgado still emphasises the importance of self-care and believes strongly in the importance of not allowing the lines between work and home life to get hazy.

“With today’s fast-paced work culture, it is usually our tendency to put self-care last but I’ve come to realise that factoring in time for yourself is important. So, I make sure I do what it takes to get the time I need for myself,” she explains. “I love a good workout and exercise is a proven stress reliever so I schedule my day to ensure it is the first thing that I do as it helps me clear my mind, plan the day ahead and keep my spirits up.”

Truly, for Delgado, self-care is an intentional choice and something she believes the modern worker cannot neglect. 

“I make a conscious effort to work self-care in and I do not compromise even if I am tired. I am strict with routines as I strongly believe sticking to a routine gives balance and helps you focus on health. There can be a thousand excuses every single day not to make time but I do not compromise on ‘me’ time no matter what the day ahead of me holds,” she says. 

With her busy job and parenting duties, Delgado has her hands full. Below, she shares how she does it all in her own words. 

What is a typical morning like for you?

Rivero Delgado (RD): If I am in Singapore, I am usually up by 5 am, I have a quick coffee, walk the dog and go for an hour run before my children wake up. This is then followed by prepping the kids for school and having breakfast with them before heading to work.

If I am travelling, I wake up by 5 am, have a quick coffee and meditate for an hour before sunrise.

What do you usually have for breakfast?

RD: Usually I will have something simple, quick, and healthy. Typically that is sliced kiwi and oatmeal.

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What does a standard workday look like for you?

RD: If I am travelling and visiting the hotels, I spend most of the time meeting with people, walking around the hotels and I spend a lot of time with our associates.

If I am in Singapore, I make sure that when I am in the office, I start with organising my day such as making sure the priorities are clear for the team, looking at the schedule for the next few weeks to see what’s important in the markets that I run and connecting with the different ownership groups. I also make at least four to six calls to our hotel general manager and visit at least one property in Singapore a week.

How would you describe your working style?

RD: Extremely active, fun and energetic.

What time do you usually have lunch? What do you usually have for lunch?

RD: If I am working, lunch is something I have to keep me going so I choose something easy and light like a simple salad. Dinner is usually when I take time to enjoy a meal.

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Free time: overrated or underrated? Why?

RD: Underrated. It’s extremely important to have time and to make time to connect with yourself. And if we don’t have free time, it’s very difficult to show up at work and to have a strategic view.

I think over the years, I have learned how to create and protect my free time and make sure I spend time with family. The higher the position you are career-wise, the more you need to really find a way to achieve balance.

How do you achieve a work-life balance? How do you set boundaries?

RD: I am very particular about my morning routine and I don’t compromise on it for anything. I protect my weekends and spend time with my family. In the evenings, when I have time, I put the kids to bed and take an hour for myself to relax and to read a good book.

How do you chase your dreams?

RD: I try to excel in what I do and give it my best shot always. I always try to push myself out of my comfort zone and learn continuously as well as being constantly curious about things around me.

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Risks: should you take them? Why or why not?

RD: Yes. I always take risks because they keep me on my feet and challenge me to soar to greater heights. I think it is one of the qualities that every leader should have.

How do you deal with your shortcomings?

RD: I deal with my shortcomings by being very conscious and aware of them.

What is the best piece of advice that you have ever gotten?

RD: The best piece of advice I have gotten is that in Asia, it’s important to focus on relationship building with stakeholders. Also, it is important to be factual and not emotional when dealing with issues.

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What is an idea/thought that you heard recently that you thought was interesting?

RD: The past two pandemic years have taught us the importance of attracting the domestics market from a leisure standpoint (eg. staycations) and also how there are plenty of working opportunities in hotel and restaurant operations.

As international businesses bounce back due to the easing of restrictions, we should also continue to watch for leisure trends in the domestic market.

How do you manage stress?

RD: I do that by making time for myself and making sure that I have a work-life balance. 

How do you stay motivated?

RD: I stay motivated by loving what I do and I am lucky to be working in a company where I get to do just that. Another thing that keeps me motivated is seeing how my team develops and grow.

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What would you still like to accomplish?

RD: For the next six months, I would like to see Marriott bounce back from the pandemic and become even more successful. I would also like to see more people (who love hospitality) reconnect with the industry to come back and be hoteliers.

What is the last thing you do before you go to bed?

RD: I will go to my kids and kiss them while they are sleeping.


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