“You don’t have to be a superwoman, but you can make little changes”.
In a conversation with Linda Bekoe, CEO of APLBC (About Partners, Luxury Brand Collection), we dive into her career journey and discuss the ups and downs of entrepreneurship in the demanding hospitality industry. We also touch on two important subjects: mental health and Diversity, Equality & Inclusion (DEI).
Linda’s desire for the hospitality industry stemmed from her childhood in Ghana, and her love for cooking. With a nudge from her father to pursue studies in hospitality, she embarked on an 18-year career in the industry. She founded APLBC with a strong belief in collaboration and the idea that everything in this industry is “about partners”. Whether you’re a buyer, an event organiser, or a hotel, APLBC identifies challenges and connects people accordingly.
Having benefited from the industry’s generosity and mentorship, Linda is all about giving back. She recalls her interview for a position on the ITM board, where she met Fay Sharpe OBE, another board member at the time. Despite her youth, the board members saw her potential and encouraged her to immerse herself in understanding ITM’s operations. She reapplied two years later and served on the board for an additional two years. This experience reinforced her belief in the power of mentorship, and nurturing young talent, a sentiment she carried into her role as mentor on the FF15 programme in 2022/23.
Linda recognises the industry’s demanding nature and while work-life balance and mental health were not her top priorities initially, she learned their importance after experiencing burnout. She now sets boundaries and prioritises self-care. She firmly believes that small changes can make a significant difference, like starting the day with a morning walk while listening to a podcast. Linda advocates outsourcing tasks and carving out personal time for enjoyable activities. She shared a thought-provoking analogy “If you were given one car to use for 80 years’, how would you look after it?” We both reflected on how this applies to our lives, and it’s a reminder that our bodies and minds deserve care and attention to thrive.
Diversity, equality, and inclusion are important subjects to Linda who Chairs the DEI Committee for the GBTA (Global Business Travel Association). She’s committed to advancing the industry towards greater inclusivity. Her motivation stems from the desire to shine a light on the lack of diversity in the industry and the importance of change. Linda also wants her son to grow up in a world where he is judged on merit alone. She highlights the need to see everyone as unique individuals, for us to challenge our assumptions and ask the right questions to create inclusive workplaces, travel programs, meetings, and events.
Linda strives to make a difference and advocates others. She sums it up as, “It’s about collaboration and being kind, that for me, is the message I always try to leave with people.” I share Linda’s perspective and believe collaboration with kindness in our business interactions is the key to success.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Linda Bekoe, I highly recommend connecting with her on LinkedIn. She is a beacon of inspiration in the hospitality industry, balancing entrepreneurship, mentorship, self-care, and a strong commitment to DEI.