Women are more empowered now than ever before – and many are thriving in the Business of Happiness. This International Women’s Day, six female hotel leaders share how they have each found fulfilment and success in their chosen hotel career.
#PassionMadePossible #BizofHappiness #100AmbassadorsOfHappiness #Workforahotel
How long have you been in the industry for? Close to 11 years now.
How did you join the industry?
I used to work in HR for around 12 years. I was happy, but I found it difficult to move up the career ladder. I felt like I wasn’t making the progress I wanted. An old colleague of mine, who used to work in hotels and was making her way back to the industry, told me “Someone like you should be working in a hotel.” And I was surprised because I didn’t know what the hotel industry was about. I only saw it through a guest’s perspective. So, I met her former boss for an interview. The first time we met, he told me on the spot, “You are hired.”
He later told me “I’m giving you this opportunity in employee training because I really think this is where you’re going to progress more.” And look at me now: that was my turning point. It all started at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel.
Tell us about your role and your day-to-day duties.
I plan, organise and lead the training programmes for all departments. Millennium Hotels Group is an Approved Training Organization (ATO) so we run Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) programmes for our staff. On top of that, we run our own Millennium Hotels training programme called Outstanding Service Experience. All staff members go through these training modules so that they can improve and perform better in their respective roles. It’s also a chance for staff to upgrade their skills which will be useful throughout their hospitality career.
Training is not just about engaging the employees, but also about what I can do to help the entire hotel. For example, whenever a team’s morale is down – it happens, it’s natural – I’d step in, ask for feedback, write up a summary report and have a meeting with the General Manager. Then, we try to come up with solutions to those issues. By giving them a chance to have their voices heard, we gain the trust of our staff.
What does being a woman in the workplace today mean to you? It’s about being strong and taking ownership of the opportunities that come our way. Keep pushing. Don’t give up. When I first started in the industry, I was quite timid. It was very tough for me. But over the years, I learned to be firm. If I give a suggestion, and I’m told no or it can’t be done, I’ll persist until it is taken seriously. I have to, or else things won’t happen for me.
Does the hotel industry empower the women working in it? Yes, top management has been supportive of both women and men. They trust that we can make sound decisions, and listen to our ideas and suggestions. In this industry, you cannot have the mindset that only men can work in certain departments, because women are in the workforce too, and have proven to be equally capable and successful. It’s time to open up: the future is now.
Do you have any female role models you look up to?
Yes, my Front Office and Housekeeping colleagues. They’re leaders in those departments, they have all this energy to work from morning to the end of the day, and then go home and take care of their families. They’re full of passion – not just for the hotel, but also for life.
Another person is Mary Jeow. She’s in her late 60s now. She’s a Guest Relations Manager at Grand Copthorne Waterfront, and she always goes above and beyond for those around her. The guests love her so much, they actually come back to the hotel just to look for her. I want to make the same kind of impression on people.
We heard you studied for your degree while you were working. How did you do it? Yes, I got my degree in Business and HR Management from Curtin University. I took up the programme about eight years ago and studied part-time. When I first started, I kept telling myself, “I can’t do this. I don’t have the time or energy.” But because I had such good colleagues, classmates and friends, they really pushed me to finish it. Studying for this degree gave me more confidence in managing people. I learned how to push for things and get things done.
Do you feel fulfilled working in this industry?
Yes, I find this industry the most fulfilling one among all the other places I’ve worked at. I feel I can inspire people, be a part of their learning progress, and witness how they change, grow and develop, especially when I see young people who complete their internship and continue working in this industry. These young people would gain qualities that they didn’t have before starting their internship. It makes me proud to see them succeed.
I’m so happy and passionate about what I do. I wouldn’t go to another industry. No chance!
What advice would you give to women who want to work in the industry? Learn to endure and be resilient. Brave through the challenges. Just like in any line of work, it’s the challenges that make the entire experience worthwhile.