In recent years the flourishing tourism sector has brought a wealth of hotel job opportunities, and many roads to success; up-and-coming hospitality professional Fonnie Lau tell her story.
Holiday Inn Macau's Director of Rooms Fonnie Lau has worked in the hotel industry for more than two decades. During that time, her determination and commitment to continuing education has led her to become an effective leader, parent and also a teacher. Her first job, as a hotel receptionist was "fun", she recalls, and she continued to enjoy the work because she likes meeting people and it gave her a way to use her aptitude for foreign languages and increase her skills, especially since she took advantage of an after-work program to further hone her English ability. Although the work was demanding, Fonnie faced it with plenty of enthusiasm, determining to forge a career in hospitality. After working several years in a casino hotel, Fonnie Lau moved to an international hotel chain where she now works and obtained a degree in tourism studies.
Even with her extensive training, some situations she faced were challenging, for which she was not ready. After a misunderstanding with a customer over the discount for a reserved hotel room, she had to make a humiliating apology, but on later reflection, she realized that she had learned a valuable lesson from the experience.
Experiences like that have served her well in her present position at the hotel, where she is charged oversight of the reception, housekeeping, security and spa areas, each of which has a culture and management style of its own, and each demands smooth operation and quality service. She also teaches weekly classes at the Institute of Tourism Studies, sharing both her academic knowledge and real life work experience with students.
Today, she says the rapid development of the tourism sector means increased pressure and higher levels of demand for hotel services. A positive attitude for industry professionals, she believes, is to not think too much about whether you will win or lose in a specific situation but to always give you best, work toward your objectives, and don't give up.
Be prepared to change, says HR exec
Simon Ip, responsible for human resources management and administration at a Macau hotel, doesn't spend time wondering whether he'll win or lose before taking a step. Because he welcomes challenges, he was able to leave a career in IT for a field he was less experienced with – human resources.
With a degree in computer science, Mr Ip was formerly Deputy Chief Information Officer at a local hotel, until a new opportunity presented itself in the form of the chance to make a lateral move to human resources. Mr Ip finds that, unlike his work in the IT department, human resources is challenging in ways that have to do with human interactions, which, he acknowledges, can be even more complex. Now, after a year on his new career path, he enjoys solving the problems that come his way, meeting the needs of his colleagues in many different departments of the hotel.
He quickly realized that, in addition to the difficulties at work, personal and family problems can also have an effect on staff performance. When necessary, he takes on the role of listener, in an effort to understand his colleagues' concerns and provide help.
Staffing is his biggest challenge. As more and more casinos and hotels open in Macau more pressure has fallen on human resources. Even in five star hotels that don't have casinos, it is essential to maintain high service quality, and hiring staff is a responsibility that cannot be delegated.
Taking stock of his career so far, Mr Ip says that there have been times when the pressures mounted, that he thought about leaving, but he has come to realize that ultimately, in any workplace, the way to overcome difficulties is to build strong relationships with colleagues. He also has gained an appreciation of the surroundings of the hotel where he works, which provide a chance to enjoy the beauty of nature and is a good place to focus on the demands and satisfactions of his job.
Overall, Mr Ip believes that opportunities are there for those who are prepared, but at the same time, it is an advantage to be open to change in order to take advantages of those opportunities as they arise. He himself is an excellent example of how being open to change can lead to new prospects and new ways to succeed professionally.
Speaking from his experience in staff recruitment, Mr Ip believes that nobody should limit himself to a single career path, but instead should be flexible enough to pursue new opportunities and challenges. His own experience is ample proof of this.