Guest speakers Lizzi Pearson from Urban Gourmet and Natalie Reid from Pullman Auckland shared with the group their experiences working in the hospitality industry, with a focus on working from the ground up.
CINZ chief executive Sue Sullivan says it is important young professionals ‘get their eyes up’ and look at what is going on in the industry if they want to progress.
‘We are very much about education, which the Emerging Talent Programme is a part of,’ Sullivan says.
Sullivan also urged the importance of mentors to the group. ‘We strongly recommend young professionals find a mentor to help with their professional goals. They give good direction.’
Pearson, now general manager at Urban Gourmet, told the group how ambition was probably her best - and worst - quality.
‘I’ve always wanted someone else’s job. I’d start a job and then see someone who had a better job and I’d want that job. And I’ve been lucky enough to work with people who recognise the importance of professional development,’ she says.
Working as a chef and in catering, Pearson says she hasn’t had the most conventional background of a general manager. ‘But the common theme throughout the jobs I’ve done is that I have lived and breathed the hospitality industry,’ she says.
Pearson reminded the group how important teamwork is, in any industry. ‘Working in a team means everyone works to their strengths to achieve a common goal.’
Pearson explained she picked up a bad habit of working hundred hour weeks and expecting the same of her team. ‘I felt like a martyr, thinking I was the only one who could do something right,’ she says ‘If you have to ask your staff to work those kinds of hours, there’s something wrong with your business model and opens you up to all kinds of problems. Learning the art of delegation is really important.’
Reid, who is now director of sales and marketing at Pullman Auckland, began her career as a food and beverage attendant at the Stamford Plaza. Reid said her desire to become an event coordinator drove her to learn everything she could from the ground up.
‘From holding trays to doing rosters, it taught me a lot about working on the ground in events. I had hoped it would give me a good base once I got into an event coordinator role,’ Reid says.
Reid says having a goal or vision really helped in the early stages of her career.
‘Passing on my experiences to my team is really important, because ultimately I want them to do well and if I can help them like people have helped me in my career, it will be really satisfying.
I’ve always known where I want to go, and hard work always pays off in the end.’
Sullivan adds, ‘What's really fascinating about Lizzi and Natalie are their diverse backgrounds; they both started on the floor and have worked their way up. You can't underestimate that; if you do any job - you can ask people to do any job. If you can do it, anyone can, don't underestimate that.’