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How to Make a Successful Career in the Hospitality Industry

How to Make a Successful Career in the Hospitality Industry

June 30, 2021

Interview with Tamika Abboud, Hospitality Industry Cluster HR Manager for Marriott Hotels

Tamika Abboud is an ICMS alumna and Cluster HR Manager at the Marriott – the largest hotel company in the world!

Since graduating from ICMS in 2013, Tamika has worked her way up from Food and Beverage Attendant to Human Resources Manager. How did she do it? What lessons can she share that could help you in your own career?

Maria Macri-Nosari, ICMS Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Faciliator and Huizi Shan, ICMS Master’s student, asked Tamika to share behind-the-scenes secrets of getting ahead in the hospitality industry.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Maria Macri-Nosari:

Good evening everybody, and welcome to how to make a successful career in the hospitality industry. I’m Maria Macri-Nosari, industry placement facilitator for post-grads, hospitality and tourism students. A very warm welcome tonight to Tamika Abboud who is the cluster HR manager of two Marriott Hotels, the Four Points by Sheraton as well as the Courtyard North Ryde, and welcome to Huizi Shan, who is currently studying her Masters of International Business at ICMS and who will be asking our questions with a student’s perspective this evening.

So tonight we’re going to give you some really great advice that will help all students understand and navigate starting out in the hospitality industry as well as the journeys and the opportunities that will help you grow along the way. So let’s start with our first question tonight, from Huizi.

Tamika’s Career Journey in the Hospitality Industry

Huizi Shan (Master’s student):

Hi, good evening everybody, good evening Tamika. Can you tell us about your journey from being a student at ICMS to your current job?

Tamika Abboud:

Of course. Well thank you so much for having me. It’s great to join you both and everyone this evening. So that’s correct, I am an ICMS alumni, which is great, I’ve had some great memories at ICMS and really cherish the education there. So I started off in ICMS in 2011, straight out of high school, so I studied the Bachelor of Business, specialising in Hospitality Management. So as a part of my studies, as most of you would know, there was the nine month industry placement so towards the end of 2011, I went through the process and landed an industry placement at Courtyard by Marriott in North Ryde.

So I started off there as a food and beverage attendant. After a couple of months in food and beverage, I moved over to front office as a guest service agent, and also did some cross-exposure in the event sales team. So that got me all the way through-

Maria Macri-Nosari:

I just remember you started off in food and beverage but you wanted to be a GSA originally, and I know you have a little story in regards to how that happened, can you share that with us?

Tamika Abboud:

Of course, of course. So when I initially was looking to go on industry placement, I was very excited and I really wanted a receptionist or a guest service agent role, so I actually attended the interview for a guest service agent role. Now I had never worked in a hotel before, I had very little customer service experience, so as I was sitting in the interview I was being interviewed by the general manager at that time and he was asking me some really very simple customer service examples, just to see what level I was at.

At the end of the interview, he suggested that I start off in a food and beverage component and then we’ll reevaluate in a couple of months to see whether you’re ready for a front office role. I remember at that time, I left the interview and I was like “Oh my goodness no.” I wanted my guest service agent front office role, this is crazy. But I was very, very keen to get in the industry and it was a great hotel to start at. It was a small hotel, it’s 198 rooms, so it was a great opportunity so I took it, and I still say to this day that that four months or … I did end up working across front office and food and beverage over the couple of years that I was there, but that four solid months where I started in food and beverage was probably one of the most crucial learning moments for me in my career.

I still refer to processes and policies that I used to follow from a food and beverage perspective now, to this day, in a human resources component and it really helped me, for the first time in the industry, really get a good understanding of how on earth a hotel runs and what different department [crosstalk 00:04:42] different departments and how they communicate and I guess the life cycle of a guest or the process of a guest from start to finish. So I think that really shaped my perception of the industry and really kick started my career, so I think that was a really big component for me.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

Did it pass some confidence as well to Tamika, where you obviously going (well) in your first job? Were you a little bit nervous or did it help with getting some confidence to move into front office?

Tamika Abboud:

Yeah. I didn’t realize but for those who’ve sort of started off in customer service, I feel like I was kind of taken back at how nervous I was to face my first guest. I think it’s a little bit overwhelming because they can ask you anything right, and you need to know the answers as best you can or find that information. So it really gave me the opportunity to feel comfortable not only with the hotel but with the guests and feel comfortable in those interactions.

Food and beverage is normally the side of the hotel where you spend a lot of time with the guests because they’re dinning for a couple of hours, whereas front office you probably see them for five or 10 minutes when they are checking in and out and that’s a big part of the interaction. So you got a little bit more time to converse with them and speak to them, build those relationships with them. And as well, after that, moving into front office, even just questions of, what time does breakfast open? What’s included if my breakfast is included in the rate? Just those simple things really help you in the confidence in responding to guests and to show that you have knowledge of the hotel and confidence in your service level, so that was a really big push of my…

Maria Macri-Nosari:

I think a lot of people don’t understand that when you are working in the front office, basically everybody in the hotel comes to you for everything so [crosstalk 00:06:55] guests, and associates or staff included. So what happens is, when anybody needs absolutely anything from a security issue to room service or, the mini bar is jammed. Really, absolutely anything, they come to the front office or they call the front office. So you really got to be prepared to handle any situation but you’ve also got to be able to answer any of the questions in the hotel from all perspectives. So it is a big learning curve.

Tamika Abboud:

Correct. Of course. And I always even say, even from a human resources perspective, how can I hand on heart recruit for a food and beverage attendant if I don’t know what they do or don’t know the skills that they need to work as a food and beverage attendant. So I think that also helps be genuine in finding right candidates and I think-

Maria Macri-Nosari:

And problem solve from an HR perspective too, right? So when associates are working in other departments and they come to see you if they’ve got some challenges, you know what it’s like to have been in those departments. So it must [crosstalk 00:08:15] easier right to be able to assist them.

Tamika Abboud:

Of course. And whilst in some small hotels there is little bit more connection between the two. You find in larger hotels there is big distinction between the front office side and food and beverage side. So you always… to have that knowledge of the food and beverage component can really help you connect those two departments especially in larger hotels as well because it’s a lot more people, sometimes a lot more space between the two departments, that also impacts. So it is very crucial knowledge to have and it’s a great pathway into the industry. I think a lot of leaders and even general managers who you ask have started in food and beverage, housekeeping, and that really has helped them as well.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

Nice. Okay, so your next step [crosstalk 00:09:10] that’s right, we’re getting a little bit carried away in the beginning. [crosstalk 00:09:16] we’ll make up the time.

Tamika Abboud:

Okay, so what are we up to? So Courtyard by Marriott North Ryde… so by that stage I finished my industry placement but stayed in the capacity of the GSA role. Now, towards the end, I was graduating at the end of 2013 and it kind of hit me like a light bulb, “Oh hang on one second, I’m graduating at the end of this year, what am I going to do? What’s my next step? I didn’t even think about this before”.

So I arranged a meeting with the human resources team at that time and it was a really simple, quick meeting and it was simply, “I’m graduating and I’m really keen to grow and to take on the next step”. And I think she asked me at the time, “What do you want to do?” And I kind of like, “I want to be a hotel manager. I want to manage a hotel”. I kind of still didn’t have a clear direction of where I wanted to go. And she said, “Leave it with me for a couple weeks, I’ll have a look around and I’ll see if I find anything that might suit you”. And literally a couple of days later, she mentioned that this new role was coming available at one of our sister properties, Sydney Harbour Marriott, which is down in Circular Quay. And the role was an operations coordinator role. So it was very much bringing in all the food and beverage, in front office experience that I had, and it was sort of the communication role between all those departments. Very much an operation administrator type role, so restaurant reservations, menus, [inaudible 00:11:08] guests, things like that.

So it was a very general role and this was a big shot to me this role because I had gone from a 190 room hotel to a 590 room hotel and from a select service brand to a full service. So there was so many departments, and areas that I had never experienced before, and had never seen in a hotel before. I think the sheer volume of guests in the lobby, I was completely shocked when I walked in. It was amazing. So this was a really great role I think for me, to understand the difference between a smaller and a larger hotel and that select to full service. And it was-

Maria Macri-Nosari:

I just wanted to say, you would’ve had to work with all the other disciplines, right? You would’ve had-

Tamika Abboud:

Correct. It was linking all the disciplines all together and I think it was a very crucial role to keep that communication and to build those relationships with the other disciplines as well. So that was a really great opportunity for me to meet everyone and build those relationships with everyone in the hotel. And it was about nine months to 10 months into the role where a human resources role became available in that same hotel. And I had someone from the human resources team at that time just simply ask, “What are you interested in? Where do you want to go in hotels?” And I still was like, “I think HR sounds like a great thing but I’m not 100% sure”. And they asked me the question at the time, “Well I guess you like to get involved in every event that we do, and every time there’s an activity you’re the one that’s rounding up the team and bringing all the team together? That sounds like a very human resources type of candidate, or someone who would be suitable for human resources”. So I kind of jumped in the deep end and thought, “You know what? You’re right, I think human resources sounds like me. I love the associates, and I love to work with them all across all departments”.

So I basically applied for a human resources role at Sydney Harbour and got the human resources coordinator role. Again, a great learning opportunity. It was my first time in human resources, just simply understanding that whole world of human resources where it’s been described as an iceberg in the past, where you can see a bit of it and you see all the things that you think human resources does but then there’s a large component that’s unseen and very crucial in the foundations of the department. So I got into the human resources role and I think that was quite easy for me because I had built those relationships with the disciplines already and not only from a recruitment perspective but I think I had built that trust and I could continue to build that trust with the departments and work with them to keep up the culture and engagement from that perspective.

We are now a year into the HR coordinator role and the human resources officer role became available. So I put my hand up and got that role. [inaudible 00:15:10] human resources which is an executive role, sort of a supervisory type, which there’s all these different components of human resources. So particular roles, you get particular exposure to different components of it. So that gave me a really great, sound knowledge of other deeper components of the human resources function as such. Probably another year and a half into that role, the team mentioned that a human resources manager role became available at another one of our sister properties, Sheraton Grand Sydney in Hyde Park, formally the Sheraton-

Maria Macri-Nosari:

Very big hotel!

Tamika Abboud:

Very big hotel, yes. And again, very different. Again, a different brand and had different offerings, different food and beverage outlets, different components of the hotel were busier in some areas than Sydney Harbour, where it had a bigger ball room, for example, so you needed a bigger banquets team. So that again, great learning opportunity. Had exposure to a different brand, went through a renovation there, a rebranding. So-

Maria Macri-Nosari:

Covid.

Tamika Abboud:

Covid. Just that covid thing! Yes, so again, a great experience, great to work with the team there and to really build that hotel up to the great hotel it is. And then most recently, it was kind of a bit of a round circle back to my roots, a cluster human resources manager role became available because the previous one has moved to Melbourne, to take over some of our hotels there. So this cluster role takes after two properties, Four Points Central Park Sydney and Courtyard by Marriott North Ryde. So it’s quite nice to be back at the hotel where I started my career within Marriott. It’s so great to see and it’s so interesting to walk into a hotel and be in a completely different discipline, and see things so differently, and see how far it’s come and everything along those lines. So, that’s led me to where I am now.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

Okay, great Tamika. So we’re going to move on to the second question just so we can get a little bit more information out to everybody of the amazing story about your career after graduating at ICMS. So second question Huizi, do you want to [crosstalk 00:18:02].

The qualities of a successful Hospitality Industry candidate

Huizi Shan (Master’s student):

Yeah, so taking about interviews, when you are conducting interviews, what are some of the qualities you are looking for in a successful candidate?

Tamika Abboud:

Great question. I guess after many years of interviewing and really trying to find that perfect candidate, I think the main thing that we always look for is that attitude and that passion. We found those that want to grow in the industry will because they show that passion and that energy every single day. I think, skill is for some roles may be necessary but we do believe that we can train skill. But you can’t train attitude, right? You can train someone on how to carry three plates, and you can train someone on the table numbers, and how to check in someone and how to check out someone. But you can’t train that passion and that attitude. So I guess, really seeing that in an interview is really crucial for us.

And I guess the way we can see that, and the way people can show us that is coming to interviews on time, in the correct, professional attire or an attire that’s suitable for the role they’re applying for. And I guess, treating the whole application process like you would interact with a guest. We always think that someone would be at their best at an interview, right? The way they smile or the way they interact in an interview will most likely be how they smile or interact with the guest if I hire you and get you to take care of a table at the restaurant, right? So really consider the whole application process as if it was an interaction with a guest. Whether it’s the way you email back in the confirmation email or-

Maria Macri-Nosari:

I’ve always feel it starts with a telephone call. So when you get that call, for HR to sort of say, “Can we make an appointment for you to come and see us”, it already in that conversation itself, your interview begins. [crosstalk 00:20:26] at that point then they would’ve started to think twice about you.

Tamika Abboud:

Of course. And I think as well, doing for particular roles, I think I’ve come across a lot of people that obviously want a job, which is fabulous, and then they go out and apply for 10s and 10s or 50 roles and I call them and say, “We’d love to bring you in”. And I have to kind of say, “Oh, I’m from Marriott. Remember, you applied for this role?” And I have to remind them. So I think it’s really just about making sure that you really invest in the roles that you apply for and show that to the interviewer. Really show that you’re keen on the company, keen on the hotel, keen on the position.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

[crosstalk 00:21:19] applies Tamika. I think a lot of people don’t realize where the interview, as I said, actually starts, where you’re already kind of being looked at, in terms of your presentation and how you react and how you perform. [crosstalk 00:21:36] before you get into that interview room, right?

Tamika Abboud:

Exactly. And I guess engaging conversation, show your personality. I always say, when we collect a candidate for the interview from the lobby and we’re walking them to the interview [inaudible 00:21:57] “Hello” or “Did you find the hotel okay?” And I think you may be nervous but I feel like sometimes people are so nervous that they just, “Yes, good”. That’s a perfect time to create that personal connection and engage as much as you can. And I know that comes with practice but really have a think of those when you’re going for interviews as well.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

Let your personality sort of come through. Don’t sort of get too shy and they really want to see who you are, right? And if you’re the person that’s going to fit into your team or your hotel or to your brand [crosstalk 00:22:39].

Tamika Abboud:

Of course, yeah.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

Okay. Let’s look at what the other side of the coin would be, so an unsuccessful candidate, for example, of what an unsuccessful candidate might look like at an interview. Just so we can sort of see what both sides are and compare a little bit to those [crosstalk 00:23:05] or I’m trying to understand what it looks like from your perspective [crosstalk 00:23:14] is what really successful and-

Tamika Abboud:

I guess for me, there’s a lot of preparation that goes into an interview before an interview actually even starts. So I think it’s very much seeing that effort is reciprocated as well for the interview. So I guess, where candidates show up late, we’re very reasonable people and completely understand that trains get canceled and things like that. But communication, so if they’re going to be late to call. We’ve had candidates show up late before. And I guess, like I mentioned before, that guest interaction if there is no smile or if there’s no eye contact, it’s quite hard to create that connection.

And I guess as well, I’ve had very crazy questions at the end of interviews from candidates that have no correlation to the industry or the discipline or the role that they’re applying for. So I guess, really look at the questions you’re asking because that’s a really great moment to show the interviewer that you’ve done your research and you’re very keen to learn more about a certain part of the hotel or about the brand or about the company. So really focus on those questions because I’ve had some very interesting ones.

And I guess, I’ve had candidates before that have really robotic answers. And interviews should go at least half an hour and you know there’s and issue when the interviews kind of wrap up within 10 minutes because you can’t get any stories or [crosstalk 00:25:03]. And I think that [inaudible 00:25:09] leads into that personal side, creating that connection, really expanding on answers as much as you possibly can and sharing what you can even though you might not have work experiencing. Examples to share, really touch on other examples that you can share from maybe university or college or school. So I guess, it’s all about sort of creating that flow and that’s probably the best advice I can give them.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

Okay, so while we’re in the interview room now, let’s go into resumes because this is what I like to call your brand, your resume is your brand. Tell us [inaudible 00:25:57] this piece of paper or this document represents who you are [crosstalk 00:26:04] and just how important that they are. I think a lot of them get done very quickly sometimes, or there’s just not a lot of effort put into who they are on that piece of paper. And sometimes that’s all you get to see, right? You get to see so many resumes and I’ve done a lot of recruiting in my lifetime as well in my career and a lot of them unfortunately are very similar and you are waiting to see the one that kind of pops out and gets you excited.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

And there are so my different tips I know that you can give us on resumes. But maybe if you could just share three top tips that are really important that would stand out to you as you are receiving them, especially at the moment where the industry is so competitive and there are just a lot of people applying in general for a lot of jobs out there. So, if you could give us three tips to make it that would be great.

Tamika Abboud:

Of course. I guess like you mentioned Maria, we come across many resumes and I think it’s all about getting the necessary information and as much information as you can to the recruiter whilst being clear and concise. I guess not overcrowding your resume where a recruiter can get lost in essays of words and not see the most valuable component of the resume which is your experience or all the things you’ve gotten involved in. So I do believe that keeping your resume one to two pages despite how much experience you have, and how much you did in each task and in each job, I think really keeping it one to two pages will help you keep in line what you need to say and what you need to get across to the recruiter in the best possible way.

I think I always look at a resume firstly to get way to the interview, but it’s also your story, it’s about writing your story. And making sure that if you’re the recruiter, you don’t want gaps in that story and you don’t want questions because as soon as you have questions you’ll probably go to a resume that doesn’t have any question marks, right? Be as clear as you can and think, what would the recruiter want? So for example, if you were at a work place for two months and then you didn’t work for two years because you went traveling, that’s completely understandable. But instead of just leaving the space for two years and then just continuing your work experience after that two years, if you went traveling, put that in there because I think that’s really great to know and really great to understand from a recruiter’s perspective. So answering those [crosstalk 00:29:17]

Maria Macri-Nosari:

You’re kind of wondering, what were they doing in that time? Is that what you’re [crosstalk 00:29:22]

Tamika Abboud:

Instead of leaving it unanswered, answer that question for them, sort of don’t leave any gaps in the story that you’re telling through the resume, right?

Maria Macri-Nosari:

So would you ask that in the interview if you saw that there was a big gap [crosstalk 00:29:36]. So we see that you have nothing showing for 1995 to 1997, for example, what was happening then? Or [crosstalk 00:29:47] at that stage?

Tamika Abboud:

Yeah, exactly. If we see a sort of break in service we’ll ask the question, or I guess it’s really about getting that crucial information which is your work experience, your volunteering opportunities which we can talk about soon anyway. Anything, any sports you’re involved in, your contact details, making sure your contact details are up to date, you may need to get rid of all the old emails of [email protected] These type of things-

Maria Macri-Nosari:

Using professional email addresses…

Tamika Abboud:

These type of things are noticed. And I guess, it’s really simple things, formatting, spelling. I would assume that someone would be looking at their resume multiple times, so if I see a spelling mistake as simple as it is, you question, have they double checked their resume, is it communication? Really focusing on those little things as well. And if you’ve got an outstanding achievement and that may not be related to work experience, could be sporting or volunteering, put that down and share as much as you can through that. But I think the main thing is just clear and concise.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

That’s really great advice Tamika. I’m going to be going to the next question which is a really important one and it’s one that Huizi and I have talked about it together. And it’s for students that have got no previous work experience on their resume, and also we have a lot of students that are currently locked down in their own countries as well, so they are unable to get experience, they have no experience because they don’t have any sort of part time jobs. But when they apply for a role or when they’re being interviewed, if they have no experience, [inaudible 00:31:57] into the industry or into a job, what sort of advice can you give in terms of, I think we were touching on the volunteering, but what sort of advice can you give [crosstalk 00:32:14] without any experience behind.

Tamika Abboud:

Well I guess, like we’ve mentioned briefly before, utilize the time that you have whilst it maybe in lockdown or in any scenario that you may be into, to leverage on volunteering opportunities or even activities within the college and within your local community. If it’s any consolation the last year for anyone has probably been a pause on their career so I think a lot of people have either gaps or pauses in their careers over the last year. So it’s just all about what you do in that scenario and how you make the most of that time. [crosstalk 00:33:08]

Tamika Abboud:

Exactly. I think its given a lot of time to do those type of things. So when the industry goes back to how it was before and back to 100% you have all these to add to your resume and to add to the list of achievements that you have. I’ve hired many people before and I think that’s probably one of the biggest positives in this industry is, this is probably one of the most unique industries where you can come in at a line level without any experience. Like I mentioned, it’s the attitude and the passion, and we can train the skill. So this is probably one of the industries that you can come in with no work experience.

I think, it’s just you have to be realistic on the role that you’re applying for. Look at those pathways into the industry, look at those entry roles like food and beverage, housekeeping, there’s so much value in those roles. And you can if you’re showing that passion and you want to grow, I think being realistic and going for roles like that will really help you build up that work experience and help you get to the next level.

I’ve hired many people in the past that haven’t had work experience. I’ve hired someone, and I remember, specifically they hardly had anything on their resume but they did have that they were part of a basketball team. And what may seem so simple in a basketball team as a recruiter you can say, “Hey, that means they’re probably quite good at team work because they’re in team sport and they have to meet up with this team. And that means they may be good at communication because they all have to communicate as a team. And they obviously have drive and passion because they willingly chose to go, they’re not forced to go to these team, they’ve chosen to spend their time and go and play in a basketball team.” So there’s many different components of what volunteering or activities can show a recruiter of different qualities that you show. And it’s how those qualities can be taken from something and translated into customer service in the hospitality industry.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

So can we talk a little bit more Tamika, on the power of volunteering as well? Because I know when I was a hotelier and I was receiving resumes, whenever I saw anybody had done some volunteer work, I just thought, well this shows so much initiative. It’s great that people are going out there and trying to get some experience without always being paid just to add to their resume. Maybe you could explain to us in a HR perspective as well [crosstalk 00:36:01].

Tamika Abboud:

Of course. I think from a volunteering perspective, one thing that relays so well into the hospitality industry is customer service as well. And in a lot of volunteering opportunities you’re dealing with people, you’re dealing with different types of customers, and there’s coordination, and there’s communication. All these components really show your characteristics and your qualities. And then again, similar to my last example, it shows that whilst a large portion of people decided to use covid to catch up on their rest and [crosstalk 00:36:51], catch up on TV shows and things like that, it really distinguishes the two types of people over this period, where you make the most of your time and it shows that you’ve got that energy and the passion to go out and do something and to meet new people and to create those relationships. I think that’s a really big component of what it takes to succeed in the industry. And I think within our realms, if volunteering’s what’s an offer, I think that’s a great opportunity.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

Great, okay. Huizi, would you like to go ahead with the next question.

Why working in the Hospitality Industry is so enjoyable

Huizi Shan (Master’s student):

Yup, so talking about the industry, what are some of these things you enjoy most about your job and the hospitality industry?

Maria Macri-Nosari:

The hotel stays.

Tamika Abboud:

Hotel stays, yes. [crosstalk 00:37:50]

Maria Macri-Nosari:

That was always one of my favorite things about working in a hotel.

Tamika Abboud:

Yes, absolutely. No, you come across some beautiful, amazing hotels and one thing we’ve got some great access to beautiful hotels and great discounts and things like that. But I guess, at the end of the day, those really beautiful things and really nice, it comes down to the people. I think that’s the biggest thing that I love about the industry. You work with so many people, so many diverse backgrounds, you learn so much about their cultures, and everything, and it’s just great.

You connect for life and I can tell you many stories of times where I’ve been across the country or across the world and have come across someone who I’ve worked with in the past and it just brings a smile to your face. It feels like home when you see someone that you’ve worked with in the past. And there’s a real energy and a pace about the hospitality industry. When you’re behind the scenes and you’re not in front of a guest, I can guarantee that I can walk past someone who works there, and even though there’s no guest around, they’ll look up and smile at you as if you’re their guest and they’re so happy to see you. So it’s a really nice environment to be a part of. It’s a real family environment. I think that’s probably the biggest thing for me and you create those lifelong friendships and things like that.

I guess another thing about the industry, and I think one thing about Marriott in particular, is it’s such a large company, there’s 30 brands, there’s such a diversity of hotels across a lot of brands as well. There’s such a diversity so you could literally go into a new hotel every couple years and it feels like you’re learning something new, you’re meeting new people. I’ve been with the company for 10 years now and it feels like just a couple of years because working across… I’ve worked across about four brands now, it feels like I’m always learning, it’s always something different. You always come in and there’s a new challenge or something exciting to work on.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

What I loved was just that every single day was different.

Tamika Abboud:

It is, isn’t it?

Maria Macri-Nosari:

And sometimes that is a bad thing. You’ve come to work and whatever you have scheduled would go out the window, of course. But you would come in and the most extraordinary things would happen on the daily basis, you would meet amazing people. It was just never, you never had a break day but you never had a day that was like the other. There was no routine, even though there was a routine, if that made sense. And it was just always something exciting going on and there’s always a buzz in the hotels. And it’s still, doesn’t matter [inaudible 00:41:03] get that buzz, that excitement going. It’s a very special industry and I think there’s not many industries where you can have a very different, exciting day every day of the week. So, that was definitely one of the things that I really loved about the hospitality industry.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

So we’re going to move on a little bit here, sort of running behind time, but we’re going to talk a little bit about the culture of Marriott. I think you touched a little bit on that now, Tamika. But if you can just share with us just a few of the cultural aspects of Marriott and for me I think that’s why the company is so successful and probably why it’s become the biggest hotel company in the world right now. And maybe some of the exciting projects that are going ahead within the Marriott business right now.

Tamika Abboud:

Of course. I guess, the best way I can describe the culture of Marriott, it was founded over 90 years ago and it was founded by a husband and a wife. And it literally started humble beginnings in a root beer stand. And I don’t think they ever would’ve ever imagined how the company grew and turned out from such humble beginnings. But I always say, even the Marriott family [inaudible 00:42:26] plays such an integral part in the management of the company and running the company. And I always say that, those family values, and that family feeling really does filter down to the hotels and I think that’s really what shapes the culture. Where you as a family, you take care of your family, you take care of your team and the team will then do what they do as a family and take care of those guests, which will ultimately support your business. So I think that’s a real big culture piece for Marriott in supporting those associates and caring for them. Just a genuine take care [crosstalk 00:43:10]

Maria Macri-Nosari:

There’s a very genuine sense of care working in Marriott.

Tamika Abboud:

And I think that’s really the element of their success and why so many people have been with the company for so long. There’s people that’s been with the company for 50+ years. And there’s many of them. It’s not just a couple, there’s quite a few and I think that’s just a testament of how well they’re treated and why people see the value in staying with the company for so long. So it’s very fulfilling and great.

I guess from that perspective as well, I guess Marriott is also very focused on growth and keeping those opportunities alive for people. I think without the multiple hotels in Sydney I wouldn’t have been able to jump from hotel to hotel with different varying opportunities. So it’s all about growth. We have so many exciting opening coming up. The industry’s gotten a lot of [inaudible 00:44:12] that hospitality is going down and hotels are going down. But it’s just a testament that the industry is roaring back and when it does come back, we’re all ready to go. And just simply in Australia, we got beautiful new build Marriott Melbourne Docklands opening up in the next couple of months. We’ve got The Tasman in Hobart opening up, it’s our first one in Hobart, at the end of this year.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

That’s the old treasury building, right?

Tamika Abboud:

Very excited for that. Got my trip ready to go. We’ve got some of our really beautiful, luxury brands Ritz-Carlton Melbourne are opening up next year as well, that’s going to be absolutely stunning. One that’s, I think this is a really exciting project, and I think a lot of people are excited for it, the W Sydney, opening up towards the end of next year. I think anyone that drives through Darling Harbour sees this beautiful building that’s, looks like it’s nearly finished but we’re nearly there. The W brand is luxury, but it’s also life style. It’s such a great brand to work for, it’s fun [crosstalk 00:45:31].

Maria Macri-Nosari:

One of the most popular hotel brands in the world that is sought after for-

Tamika Abboud:

Yeah, very much so. It wasn’t in Australia until a couple years ago when it came to Brisbane, W Brisbane. And then W Melbourne and then W Sydney which I think really tied up really great. And it’s such a fun brand, so that’s happening next year. So with all these openings and things, that’s jobs, that’s development, that’s growth. And that’s something every Marriott associate looks forward to and has goals to reach and experience to get under their skin before these openings happen because they’re saying, “When these are opening, we want to be ready. And we want to be trained up and ready to go.” We love seeing that, we love seeing the growth across all the properties and the brands and we really work together to make sure that people have really fulfilling careers and growth within the company.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

Huizi, I think you had a question on behalf of one of your classmates for Tamika?

The Benefits of Working at Marriott Hotels

Huizi Shan (Master’s student):

Yes, one of my classmates is wondering, they would like to know what are some of the benefits of working with Marriott Hotels?

Tamika Abboud:

Of course, well I guess the obvious one I have to say is the discounts and hotel stays and facilities, I think that’s always a great one. And you honestly get amazing discounts, not only on the hotel but the food and beverage components within the hotels, the golfing facilities for those resorts globally across the world. And not only that, your friends and family also get discounts, so you also become very popular when you work for Marriott because all of a sudden everyone reaches out for you for the discounts, so that’s always good fun. [crosstalk 00:47:32] So it is really nice, and you feel really proud when you book someone a rate at one of the hotels and you get so excited that they enjoy their experience, so that’s really nice.

So there’s discounts which is a big thing and we love to travel. Hoteliers love to travel [crosstalk 00:47:58]. And we hear about all the beautiful hotels around the world in the brand, and you’re like, “I want to got to that one, no I want to go to that one next”. So that’s a big thing.

I think a big thing is training and development opportunities within Marriott as well. We have particular goals that we have to reach each year, for each associate to reach, from training hours, we’ve got a lot of development online, courses, training portals that all associates have access to. And it’s readily available whenever they would like to learn more. And then I guess a big one is growth across the hotels worldwide. There’s platforms where you can simply write on your profile that you’re willing to relocate, and you want to relocate to this particular country. And there’s platforms that, hotels from that country are looking for this particular role and say, “Hey, you know what? Tamika actually wants to travel there and relocate there, let’s reach out to her for the role.” I think growth across the hotels is a big thing and we value movement within the hotels so much and we love it.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

I actually love to say that I [inaudible 00:49:11] of that and Marriott was one of the brands that I worked and it had great connection between countries and continents, and that’s not, doesn’t apply to all hotel brands. But if you performed well, if you did well in your position, you were looking to go overseas, there was always that support to move you across [crosstalk 00:49:36].

Tamika Abboud:

It’s really great. And different levels, different hotels have varying other benefits as well but I think they’re the main ones to list at the moment. And they’re really great and really play a big impact on people staying with the company which is great.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

Okay. Well, I’m afraid that we have run out of time for the session tonight. We did have a few more questions but maybe we can do another session. So it’s time to wrap up for this evening. So, Tamika, thank you so much for joining us and for all your invaluable advice and for your great tips and for giving all our students a great insight into how they can build their career successfully. We may have had some questions this evening, so if you have had any submitted for tonight, you will be able to have a look on our website, www.icms.edu.au and in a weeks time we’ll have answers up on there, the questions and the answers on there for you to go through. If you would like to email myself, you can do that and if you got anything for Tamika we can also get that to her and we can help you out with any answers or any queries that you might have. Thank you so much to Huizi for joining us as well from… representing all our students at ICMS. And I hope you all have a lovely evening.

Tamika Abboud:

Thank you for having me. Thanks so much.

Maria Macri-Nosari:

Bye Tamika.

Tamika Abboud:

Bye-bye. Thank you.

Huizi Shan (Master’s student):

Bye.

 

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