Diversity & Inclusion
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Abby Cadman

ASPL #WeLead Campaign  |  Vol.

43
Abby Cadman
Abby is the owner and director of two leading catering companies in Hong Kong, Relish and Gingers. She moved to Hong Kong 4 years ago with her husband and was determined to ‘make it’ in F&B here. Abby ended up working for Relish and later acquired the company, then the opportunity also came to take over Gingers. During all of this, the hospitality industry was crippled by widespread protests in Hong Kong, followed immediately by COVID, but they were one of the few companies that have stayed above water and survived. 
“My objective is to motivate anyone that has a dream to go out and get it.” — Abby Cadman
  1. Tell us a little about yourself?
    I am the owner and director of two leading catering companies in Hong Kong, Relish and Gingers. I moved to Hong Kong 4 years ago with my husband and was determined to ‘make it’ in F&B here. I ended up working for Relish and later acquired the company, then the opportunity also came to take over Gingers, which was a perfect fit. During all of this, the hospitality industry was crippled by widespread protests in Hong Kong, followed immediately by COVID, but we were one of the few companies that have stayed above water and survived. To add even more to my plate, my husband and I welcomed a baby boy into our lives in July last year, which has been the best blessing ever!

    Being a mother, wife, and businesswoman keeps me very busy, but I love every minute of it. My determination comes from my parents, who moved to Australia from Albania as political refugees when I was six years old with my two siblings. My dad was a cardiologist, and the Chief Advisor of the Prime Minister of Albania and my mum was a nurse and midwife. They brought our family to Australia without knowing English and started as cleaners. They worked so incredibly hard to learn the language and work their way up. My dad became a doctor again, and my mum studied accounting and opened her childcare businesses. They never took no as an answer and followed their dreams while being the most generous and thoughtful people I know.

  2. Who are the women who have inspired you the most in your life?
    My mum has inspired me the most as she has pushed through adversity her whole life. Coming from an anti-communist family in Albania, she suffered all of her life by being an example of a communist regime. She persevered and has since achieved more than anyone could in 3 lifetimes. She has a heart of gold and has been through more suffering than so many people, so she knows first hand what it is like to be challenged in many different circumstances. It is this empathy and humility that has made her successful because she can relate to everyone. She now runs two child care centres in Australia with over 50 staff. The team feels valued and are very loyal to our centres, not to mention the kids and parents that use our service.

  3. Why do you think it’s important to increase the number of women in business, particularly in leadership roles?
    Firstly, I think it is important that women actually want to be in leadership roles. I have had so many friends tell me that they could never do what I do, especially as a mum. It is important to let women choose if they want to be leaders, and if they do, get it out of merit. The pressure to have a quota of women in leadership roles is stressful for women that feel they are ‘underachieving’ if they don’t do it, and also businesses that may be letting a fantastic candidate pass by because they must employ a woman for the role. If you are determined, you can achieve anything. I don’t believe there are any barriers anymore for leadership roles. Blaming others or blaming the situation is the barrier. I often wonder why we do not also fight for women to take on roles where there is an exceptionally higher rate of men, such as truck drivers or garbage collectors.

  4. How would you describe your current thinking about diversity and inclusion?
    In my businesses, I have 25 staff with eight different nationalities and a predominantly female workforce. I chose my team because they were all perfect for their job and worked hard to get there. I happen to have a very diverse team, which is fantastic and creates a great company culture.

  5. Would you like to tell us a bit more about your thoughts/ comments?
    My objective is to motivate anyone that has a dream to go out and get it. I come from a family that never took no for an answer and achieved everything we put our minds to, even as refugees in a strange country with a strange language. I believe it devalues someone if their excuses are nurtured rather than encouraging them to pick themselves up and try again. Using ‘men’ or ‘society’ as the issue is not justifiable in a free country like Australia and creates a generation of people without grit and determination. I hope you can take what I have said on board, as I know it goes against the grain of the current narrative. Perhaps the diversity of opinion is what we need these days.

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