To be a hotel manager you have to be a multitasker. You need to be good at finance, marketing, IT, customer service, food and beverage, events and more.
Hotels are big businesses with high turnover and a large staff so you really need to be on the ball. It’s exciting and varied, but it’s hard work. You need to be very focused to succeed in this business.
I started my career in hotels while I was still at school. Growing up in Cashel you’re surrounded by tourism and I got a weekend job at the Cashel Palace Hotel as a porter. It was intimidating starting work in a luxury environment, but it’s a great place to learn.
My parents were teachers so we don’t have hotelkeeping in the blood, but somehow three of us ended up in the hotel industry. My brother Michael is Chief Executive of The K Club and another brother, Donagh, also ran five star hotels before joining CIT as a lecturer.
Both Michael and Donagh studied Hotel Management at Shannon College so it was a natural choice for me when I left school. It’s a great course and you get a good understanding of business. A number of people in my year have since diversified and gone into banking or marketing but they still use what they learned in Shannon.
GO ACROSS BEFORE YOU GO UP
All the way through my career I’ve tried to get as much experience as possible before taking thenext step on the ladder. When you’re young the temptation can be to go for promotions as quickly as possible, but it will stand to you if you get more experience in the early days. You only get a certain amount of time in your career before you start going up so take time to go across the organisation and learn different skills. Think long-term instead of short-term. All those experiences will stand to you when you get your GM position.
In Shannon you spend 21 months working in the industry – 12 months on placement in year two and nine months on trainee management placementat the end of year four. I spent my first placement in Brussels and I went to the Four Seasons Hotelin Dallas for the trainee management placement.I worked in different departments before coming back to work in what was then the Four Seasons in Dublin. It was an unbelievable experience and so exciting to travel at a young age.
You learn and see so much when you work in luxury hotels and you get to meet plenty of VIPs. I’ve met Mike Tyson – he was lovely, although you wouldn’t challenge him to an arm wrestle! – Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and others. The highlight was definitely meeting Nelson Mandela though. I will remember that forever.