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Sage Advice for Wannabe Hoteliers

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General Managers and Hotel Owners who met for a recent Operations Career Track Advisory Board Meeting hosted by the Cornell-Nanyang Institute of Hospitality Management (CNI) had sage advice for the Masters of Management in Hospitality (MMH) students - be passionate, with strong people skills in order to succeed in the hospitality industry.

Bobby Horrigan, Vice President and General Manager Operations Hotels, Discovery Suites, Philippines, opened the session by telling the students that to survive in this industry they must have the right attitude.

 “Be an entertainer,” Horrigan encouraged. “Make it seem like it is a party every day.”

 “Furthermore, to be a good hotelier you have to have the characteristics of a General, to be able to enforce discipline and yet to be a good brother/sister, or parent to mentor your staff,” Horrigan added.

Ian Wilson, General Manager of the Fairmont, Singapore and Regional Vice President Asia for Fairmont Hotels, joined the hospitality industry in Banff, Canada. He challenged the students, “How do you maintain and find your passion?”.

Wilson made the comment that people these days are fixated on a cool career. He said that what was more important is to ask oneself, “What do I like the most, what do I like the least, and how do people describe me”. If you answer these questions honestly, the right direction will become obvious when faced with choices along your career path.

 He remarked that often the way people describe themselves is not related to the career ambitions they have. He urged the students to choose what they are best at, to consider what their natural talents are, and to determine what naturally motivates them. In Wilson’s opinion, “If you know what you are passionate about, and how it plays to your strengths, remuneration and position will come in time, as will success.”

Liv Gussing, General Manager, Aman Resorts, Bali, shared her personal experiences in the industry with the students. Her key advice, however, was for the women in the group, “Women should align their own goals and values with that of the organization they work for. For instance, if you plan to have children, is it acceptable to have a child in your arms as you greet guests?”

Gussing herself has been fortunate to work with a company that allows her flexibility as a mother and as the General Manager of the hotel.

Students were given the opportunity to lunch with a mentor and later in the afternoon a “speed dating” session occurred where small groups of students were able to move from mentor to mentor and converse with the mentors.

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