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Don't cry for me, Argentina
Raymond Ma
update on Saturday, October 16, 2010
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For Banyan Tree Private Collection managing director Marina Kleiman, getting to the top of the career ladder was the easy part. What might be tricky is trying to stay at the top of her game while juggling the demands of home.

"The biggest challenge is to make sure that the time I give to my loved ones is not compromised. This is a constant challenge in a very demanding and competitive industry," says Kleiman, a native of Argentina who lives in Hong Kong.

This task is made more difficult because her elderly parents live in Buenos Aires - halfway across the world with an 11-hour time difference. Kleiman says that while Argentine families often rely on frequent family gatherings and reunions to stay close, her work in Asia makes it difficult for her to be there for her parents. Whereas most Argentine families get together at least twice a month, Kleiman says she only sees her parents twice a year.

"It's difficult. I would like to give them more support and to be there when they need me, but it's not always possible."

Fortunately, she says her family members are a forgiving lot. "They fully support and understand my situation, and in today's world you just have to live where your working opportunities arise. Hong Kong has been my home for more than 14 years and, as such, I am very grateful to this city and what it has to offer."

To make up for the geographical distance from her family, Kleiman says it is important to make sure that the time together is well spent.

It certainly helps to have an understanding husband who also works in the hospitality sector and makes an effort to align their holidays so that they can travel together.

The top executive at the Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts-branded destination club doesn't have a traditional hospitality industry background.

Kleiman began her career as a professional ballet and contemporary dancer, giving her the opportunity to perform around the world. She joined Banyan Tree in 1994, as part of the opening team for the group's resort in Phuket. She also worked for a department responsible for developing the company's "resort host" concept, and was part of the opening team for resorts in Bintan Island in Indonesia and in the Maldives.

In 1996, Kleiman moved to Hong Kong to work in the company's local general sales agency office. She moved up the rungs to be where she is now, sustaining and expanding the Banyan Tree Private Collection destination club.

"I am a people person and making others happy is on the top of my list. As such, hospitality fits my personality," she says. "Throughout my working life, I have planned corporate events for large companies, massive celebrity weddings and hotel launches, and I've been blessed with meeting some outstanding people who have influenced me greatly.

"In some small way, I think I have also influenced their lives. That is what makes me continue and thrive to do what I do, to get great feedback from clients and, at some point, to have made a connection." 

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