Included in Wednesday, May 26th print edition is our Women in Business magazine where we highlight South Okanagan women who are making a difference in the community and in the business world. Here we feature Elizabeth Cucnik who is managing Penticton’s largest resort hotel and is a mother of three.
Representing one of Penticton’s landmark businesses is no small task, but the Lakeside Resort’s new general manager Elizabeth Cucnik wouldn’t have it any other way.
A born and raised Pentictonite, Cucnik is relishing the opportunity of being at the helm of the city’s preeminent resort.
The mother of three became the general manager of the Lakeside in November 2020 after taking over for her father, becoming just the second general manager of the resort in nearly 30 years.
Being the general manager of a hotel the size of the Lakeside requires dealing with a vast array of people, which naturally has its challenges. Cucnik said she does deal with gender-based stereotypes at work.
“Absolutely, I’m experiencing those prejudices in the workplace but I wouldn’t say that it’s intentional,” she said.
She currently manages over 100 employees at the Lakeside, but in a non-pandemic summer, the Lakeside’s staff can balloon to over 400.
She brings a breadth of knowledge and experience to the job, having spent 15 years working for Lakeside’s parent company RPB. Her experience spans many positions from food and beverage service to graphic design to marketing.
Before returning home to Penticton to settle down with her young family, Cucnik lived and worked in London, Los Angeles and Vancouver. But like many Pentictonites, she was eventually drawn back to her hometown.
She has big plans for the Lakeside, but taking over a resort in the middle of a global pandemic has meant her first six months on the job have presented some unique challenges.
“It’s an odd time to come into this role… this business is so richly woven into the fabric of the community so there were so many things I wanted to integrate and really hit the ground running,” she said. “Our industry took such a huge hit and a big step back, working with absolutely no budget and then trying to keep it afloat while still trying to implement some kind of change and creativity.”
Before the pandemic hit there were expansion plans in place, but they were put on hold. Cucnik expects those plans to resume when the time is right. She has more plans for Lakeside’s future too. Atop her list of priorities is continuing to balance the demands from local markets and the international market while coming up with new promotions.
As a woman, she recognizes that despite progress made in gender-based discrimination, there’s still work to be done.
“It’s funny because as much as we feel like the culture is changing there’s still so many different prejudices and biases,” she said. “Even in this very modern environment, I feel it where people maybe assume that you’re not as savvy as you actually are.
“I think it’s just growing pains. It’s not us, it’s our society and it’s what’s been created over years but we’re slowly climbing out of it.”
Cucnik is proud to be backed by a team filled with powerful women in high positions at the Lakeside. Moving forward, she hopes to be able to inspire young women to be leaders in whatever they choose to do.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re the president of the United States or the manager of a grocery store, I think we can all be leaders in whatever we do in our lives,” she said.
“I think coming down to it, it’s not about women and men, it’s just about being human and respecting and acknowledging those differences within us.”