Sophie graduated from William Blue with a degree in hospitality management. At the age of 24, Sophie is the Venue Manager at Skye Hotel Suites in Parramatta. Sophie tells us about her hotel career to date and her future plans in the industry…
What does your role entail?
Within this hotel, I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of a brand new restaurant called Husk & Vine Kitchen and Bar. As such, I’ve been involved heavily with the training and development of staff, and overseeing the opening of the restaurant. My job entails overseeing the day-to-day operations of the venue and managing my staff to ensure that our restaurant is a success.
How did you start your career in the hotel industry?
Once I’d finished school, I was unsure as to what I wanted to do so my parents sent me to a myriad of open days to expose me to various study options. I decided on William Blue College and commenced a degree in Hospitality Management. A friend in College landed me a job as a Food & Beverage Attendant at a Hotel in Sydney Olympic Park, and since then I’ve stayed in the industry and progressed to management level within Food & Beverage.
Why do you like working in hotels?
I enjoy how fast-paced the hotel industry is. No two days ever feel the same and I’m always busy with a list of things to do. I love how interactive this industry is and meeting interesting people is always a bonus. For me, hotels have provided amazing career opportunities and I’ve enjoyed progressing over the years, further developing my skills on a professional basis.
What surprised you about working in hotels?
I’m constantly surprised by the sheer logistics of running a hotel for the hundreds of guests that are staying there. From the restaurant ensuring that there is plenty of food for everyone, to housekeeping having the amenities, and staff to replenish and clean rooms. I’m always amazed at how much organisation and planning is required on a day-to-day basis.
What does your career look like to date?
I began as a food and beverage attendant while finishing my course in Hospitality Management and then took a job at a different hotel in the same role. From there I progressed to a Team Leader and then a Supervisor. After being in that role for 18 months, I applied for a job as an Assistant Restaurant and Bar Manager at a newly opened hotel which I stayed at for six months. I was then approached and offered an exciting opportunity at a brand new hotel; this led me to my current role as Venue Manager at Skye Hotel Suites, Parramatta.
During your time at this hotel, what has been your proudest moment?
Definitely our opening night! It was fantastic watching the restaurant come together in the lead-up, to finally see people sitting down enjoying our food and service. To see the site go from a construction zone to a functioning venue, with our wait staff serving and kitchen feeding people, was such a proud moment.
What has been your greatest professional achievement to date?
Being a part of the Husk & Vine opening!
Where do you wish to go from here?
From my current role, I’d like to move to perhaps an Operations Manager position so that I can get some exposure to other departments of the hotel aside from Food & Beverage.
What challenges do you face in this role?
By nature, people can be rather unpredictable, so it’s sometimes difficult to read what people want. Hospitality is ever-changing and with that, people’s expectations are constantly on the rise. What one person finds fantastic, the next person may not, so it’s always a challenge to try and decipher what people want and what they will interpret as fantastic customer service.
Why do you like working in the hotel industry?
Meeting new people every day in hospitality is always interesting, but what I like about working in hotels, in particular, is that you’re meeting people who are travelling from somewhere. Whether it be somewhere else in the country or somewhere in the world, it’s always intriguing to hear about why people are staying in the hotel and where they’re from.
What message do you have to tell others about working in the hotel industry?
Prepare to never stop smiling! First impressions are everything, whether it be from a guest or someone you work with. A positive disposition and enthusiastic attitude can get you so far in this industry!
What advice would you give to people considering a career in hotels?
Be ready to sacrifice your weekends and sometimes a bit of sleep! There’s no mistaking that working in hotels is hard work and requires a lot of commitment, but if you are dedicated to what you’re doing and enjoy it, then it’s so incredibly rewarding and fun!
Can you bust any hotel career myths?
I believe it’s a common misconception that people think career prospects are quite limited within this industry. Jobs within hotels not only give you a lot of opportunities to move around in a geographic sense but also in a development way. I feel that I’ve learnt so many things in hotels that have helped me to develop my skills as a manager and skills that would be transferable into a lot of other managerial positions – not necessarily limited to only hotels.
What training have you received from your employer as part of your professional
Over the years I’ve been sent on quite a few training seminars assisting me in developing my management skills. As well as this, I often get sent to wine tastings and spirit training, which are always fun.
Tell us about one of your best Hotel experiences?
I think my favourite hotel experience was when I was last staying in Hawaii. The rooms and amenities were great but better than that
were the staff that were working there. The staff greeted you by your name and were genuinely interested in talking to you and doing anything they could to make sure everything was taken care of. They recommended places for me to eat and made reservations for me, booked me transport and even knew my favourite drinks and sent them to my room after one of my day trips. It was such a fantastic experience that made me feel super special!
Do you manage people? What is that like?
Managing people is perhaps one of the hardest aspects of the job. You need to find out what motivates people to work hard and
what they need in their roles to feel satisfied. Identifying the needs of one doesn’t apply to everyone else, we manage a team of interesting and unique people so it’s super important to get invested in finding out what each individual staff member wants to feel valued and making sure these needs are met.
What skills have you learnt on the job?
My ability to deal with customer complaints is really fantastic – I’ve learnt how to empathise with people, listen to their problems and find creative solutions to resolving any problems set forth.
What are your working hours like?
Honestly, I work fairly long days, but I love my job, so it’s really quite easy to do!
Thanks to Hotel Career Expo for this great interview. If you are interested in a career in the hotel and hospitality industry, come along to the Hotel Career Expo to meet Sophie and other William Blue alumni on May 7 at the Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney. For more information or to register click here.