Meet Sam. His title is “Manager of Loyalty Delivery, Australasia” at IHG.
Q: Ambiguous title, what does it mean and you do day to day?
A: There are a few different parts to my job. To give some context it’s a business role in the tourism industry. I come from a B. Commerce background.
One part of my role falls under ‘product-based’ work. For example, when the Rugby World Cup was coming together I lived in Tokyo for six months. I was responsible for looking after anything related to the World Cup. There are 22 hotels under the IHG umbrella in Japan and it was my role to make sure that the hotels were ready for the rugby fans. There were fan zones, beer gardens, brand activations and sponsorship zones in operation that needed managing; and I was also responsible for looking after Rugby Australia and their needs.
Then there is ‘strategy-based’ work, too. Our Managing Director, Leanne Hardwood is responsible for planning and our focus (as a hotel group) for the next three years. IHG is a business that is managing the chain of hotels that sit under that umbrella. So it’s about working out how we grow that brand.
Q: How do you grow a hotel brand?
A: We ask ourselves questions like do we bring new brands to market? What does our target market want? How can we support the hotels we run?
Q: What is your story?
A: I studied a Bachelor of Commerce and then I started working in banking. I loved customer service and working with people and wanted a career where I could use that skill. I had never considered tourism or hotels as a commerce graduate, but retrospectively I am not sure why not, hotels are multi million dollar businesses. There is a huge demand for business grads in the industry.
I applied to a graduate program at IHG and worked across all of the functions of the business. I loved it and within a year I began the Hotel Operations Manager. I was managing 150 staff and a 35 million dollar business.
Q: So you don’t work inside one hotel, but for the business running the hotels?
A: Correct. There is a career called hotel management, which is inside an individual hotel and then there are roles like mine, working for the hotel group itself.
Q: What makes you good at your job?
A: My role is all about stakeholder management. It’s about people and making sure you make other people happy. Our successes in Japan were because we are good at looking after people.
Q: What career advice can you offer u s?
A: I think you should try to make yourself valuable in a company. Make sure the company you are working for are taking advantage of the value you offer. If you are waiting to be shoulder tapped before you step up to a new role, that’s not good enough. The conversation around progression happens quickly if you are offering value; and if it isn’t, make sure you have a conversation with the right person that can help you in the company.
Q: What advice do you have around growing your salary in the tourism industry?
A: First off, you just need to get your foot in the door, but an advantage of this industry is that you can pivot really easily. Yes, the front line roles will be low paying, but front line roles have a clear trajectory into a higher paying role. IHG, and the industry on a wider level really nurture employees and promote from within where they can.Something that I like about this industry is that you can grow very fast. It took me five years to become the General Manger of a company; where as in other companies you are looking at 20 years.
Q: To jump from that role to where you are today, is a degree necessary?
A: It’s mainly about leadership. If you can manage a team well, than that’s what will give you competitive advantage to move up the ranks. Though, most General Manager roles will require a degree; especially if you want to work overseas. Generally a 3 year degree will help you get to the top of department role.
If you have a certificate or diploma I would advice to get your foot in the door and grow your career through experience based success. Build trust with a company and let someone develop you. There is a huge opportunity and a long a path of growth.
Q: What is your advice for young people that aren’t sure about their career?
A: Young people should be aware that there is a talent shortage in and huge growth. It’s the perfect storm. If you are in your 20s or 30s and considering a career change I would recommend you seriously consider this industry. We are always looking for people with different skill sets. We need marketing experts, lawyers, people with business qualifications. Leverage a unique skill set that you have and you’ll do very well.
Q: Ok, say I work in marketing and want to move into this industry. What kind of job could I get?
A: At IHG we need marketing managers to look after the brand direction and strategy for our hotels. This is a role in the corporate office. The team look at our brand perception across the region, they manage our marketing campaigns globally and locally.
Q: Tell me a bit about IHG, why do you like it?
The company is genuinely focused on growing people. I have been really fostered in the company and I think their commitment to talent development is really unique.