My real story: Alexandra L

Age: 24

Education: Year 12 VCE (Victoria) and a Bachelor of Tourism and Hospitality at William Angliss Institute

Current position: Director of Meetings and Events, InterContinental Sydney

Number of years at the hotel? 1 year and 2 months

What does my role entail? I am currently undertaking an accelerated leadership program with IHG, known as the Future Leader Program, where I have rotated within all operational departments of InterContinental Sydney in a Leadership capacity. I have been lucky enough within the program to assume the role of Reservations Manager where I have had the opportunity to put into practice my development as a leader within my very own team. 

How I got my start in the hotel industry: Although I was considering other professions upon completion of year 12, my mother (who has come from a hospitality background) suggested I look into hospitality as a professional career. Having worked in a customer-focused job during high school, I knew that I was a people-orientated person and that I needed to be working in dynamic environment where every day was a different. Hotels fitted that brief!

Why do you like working in Hotels? Working in a hotel, you face new and different challenges every day that make you grow and develop both professionally and personally. Having the ability to develop my team is very rewarding and something that I think is unique to the hotel industry as the career opportunities are vast and endless. As a leader, you are able to provide a clear progression plan that will shape the future of your colleagues and hopefully grow the number of people who recognise the hotel industry as a professional career. My initial motivation for working in hotels was driven by my enjoyment of working with the public. The ability bring to life the experiences that our guests dream about when they plan their time with us, is something that will never get old, regardless of what department I work in.

What surprised you about working in hotels? The amount of empowerment you are given at any level.

What my career has looked like to date: I began as a Guest Services Officer at Grand Hyatt Melbourne whilst I was studying, then wanted to grow my experience in a boutique property, so I moved to the Olsen Hotel in Melbourne as a Guest Service Agent. I later received a promotion to a Manager on Duty and once I graduated from my degree, I felt I needed to develop my capacity as a leader to be successful in hotels. So I applied for the IHG Future Leader Program. 

During your time at this Hotel, what has been your proudest moment? Being provided the opportunity to step in as Reservations Manager when my leadership program sits at the level of a Supervisor.

What has been your greatest professional achievement to date? Successfully writing a business case and having it approved by my GM, for something I strongly believed would benefit the hotel. 

Where do you wish to go from here? My end goal is to become a General Manager of an InterContinental, so I want to get a bit more exposure to the commercial side of the business in the next few years. 

What challenges do you face in this role? The ability to balance working on the business and in the business effectively.

Why do you like working in the accommodation industry? It’s a global profession that allows you to travel, meet new people and work in dynamic teams.

What message do you have to tell others about working in the accommodation industry? It’s a rewarding career that can take you anywhere in the world!

What advice would you give to people considering a career in Hotels? The career paths and possibilities are endless and the skills you learn develop you just as much on a personal level, as they do on a professional level.

Have you met anyone famous during your career in Hotels? Yes! I have been lucky enough to work in hotels that welcome many famous guests, but my favourite was Michael Buble!

Tell us about one of your best Hotel experiences? Watching the fireworks on Sydney Harbour from one of our Signature Suites on New Years’ Eve 2017.

Do you manage people? If yes, what is that like? Yes I do! It is the first time I have my own team rather than having a team on shift, and you instantly have a sense of responsibility. Their performance, development and engagement is dependent on you and the way you lead and interact with them. Being a leader has really pushed me to reflect daily to understand if there was things I need to improve on. It is not difficult to teach someone to be a manager, but learning how to be a leader is something you need to develop within yourself.

What skills have you learnt on the job? The skills I have learnt are vast, however the most important skill that I have developed is my ability to work collaboratively with people, whether it be guests, my colleagues or my leaders. This is the biggest key to your success in this industry!

What are your working hours like? Long, but rewarding.

What’s the pay like? You join the industry for the love of it, not the pay! However the higher you climb, the better it will get.