Since launching our mentorship programme, back in April 2020, The Growth Works has been keen to learn more about the mentors and mentees who make up our network. This profile series offers a glimpse into the minds of industry leaders who are generously sharing their time and expertise with our mentees, as well as shining a spotlight on the upcoming talent within our industry.
Name: Gibran Crismatt
Why did you get into hospitality?
It’s interesting where life takes you, I certainly did not expect to be in the hospitality industry but I fell in love with it!
In my early twenties, I was out of a job because the funds for the start-up I worked for took a good cut, and I was laid off and still halfway through college. After looking, I picked up on an upcoming hospitality brand that provided amazing experiences and connections between people on paradise destinations.
Since I was 16-year-old, I often went to a beach one hour from the city to do some surfing (amateur, no pros here) and met a lot of interesting people that were visiting from all over the world. Showing them my hometown, beaches, and the modern city just came naturally to me. After learning this brand was looking for an entry-level “Sales Surf Packages Specialist” I was immediately hooked and it was right here in Panama City. A few years and positions later, I’ve learned a lot about the industry and gotten to know so many great individuals.
I chose to be in the hospitality industry because you get to develop this incredible work ethic, customer-oriented approach, and coordination skills that stay for the rest of your career no matter where you go. Just getting to deliver the experience and stay I used to enjoy has to be the most rewarding.
What are your career highlights?
My very early and humble career beginnings started at age of 18 in the college library with 3 other students. We were trying to pull off a B2B software solutions company and we managed to deliver 3 contracts to 3 different local companies before eventually parting ways. I learned insane cold calling, presentation, and negotiation skills.
My first real experience in hospitality was in Selina in Sales where I got to see for the first time the big landscape the industry has. Which was so much bigger than what I expected. As the end traveler, commercially speaking, I did not imagine how far your booking goes and the interesting roles in it such Distribution, Revenue Management, Groups/B2B Sales.
I was part of a successful sales team of only 4 coordinators generating 1.3 Million in 2018 on B2C sales. I also supported Account Managing with travel packages in a two-member team generating 303K in total revenue which we beat our targets.
What is the project you are most excited about right now?
Currently, I just came back to work from a 3-month furlough and am now adjusting to a full WFH schedule. It’s reinvention time you don’t get to see often in companies, big or small, which is to adapt the business which is so unclear to many industry individuals.
Right now I’m handling some projects with a focus in sales actions rather than sales targets setting up everything for 2021. This year we are saving the business and efforts to where we can operate, there is a big focus on improving things that were always talked about but never addressed. Now the project in mind is our CRM. Assessing again our sales requirements, automatization, and mapping our B2B sales process is the most exciting project I am part of right now because my input together with the team will impact how our sales organization will look like next year probably for some foreseeable time.
What are you most looking forward to after the pandemic?
Currently, I have been self-quarantined with 2 family members and 3 cats for 4 months now and the situation has just gotten worse in Panama with strict 2 hours outside with gender-based curfews. I hope it eases up soon since a lot of businesses have been hit hard.
I am looking forward to finishing my long-dreaded thesis which is to be reviewed with professors possibly going to be online while making a comeback to our touristic beaches and untapped wildlife. (Currently, all beaches are off-limits). That’s truly what I miss the most. I am grateful for this pause in time that helped me actually see what matters to implement habits that help achieve that balance in life. It will be interesting to see if they actually stick post-pandemic.
I really hope things to start getting better in general and especially the hospitality & travel industry (hotels locally have to wait for authorities to lift curfews to operate again). Globally things look to be picking up for the industry slowly so it will be interesting to find good opportunities for real estate and investment opportunities for new brands. Something that is certain is that many too big to fail businesses will fall and from those established businesses there will be assets in the market for new brands that will arise already caught with the new industry standard.
Why did you join The Growth Works mentorship programme?
I’m still very early off in my career and consider myself a relentless learner because I’m usually eager to improve. I think that in order to exponentially grow your career you have to focus on experience (can be personally or learning from a mentor), networking, and lastly academic studies.
The Growth Works Mentorship program helps me to focus greatly on the first two and casually with academics since you get to learn hard skills actually used in the field. This is hard to come by for early-on careers or recent graduates because to actually network with experienced individuals in the industry previously you had to attend conferences usually way out of budget at this stage. You can probably meet non-intentional mentors but it’s definitely a whole different story to learn from someone with a willingness to share knowledge and skill which is what I found in the Mentorship Program.
What are you looking for in a mentor?
I think the most important trait for a mentor is to have the willingness to share knowledge/skill while having a genuine excitement on the field. I also look for a positive person with good values.
Those last traits in particular are very contagious and fall more into the soft skills side which is needed to strive and make a positive impact wherever you go.
Tell us one thing you’ve learned since you joined the programme / from your mentor
I have learned so much on the analytical side which I had a genuine interest in data insights and data-driven decisions. As a hard skill, I’ve learned to make rate structures strategies for hotels and efficiently and allocate your market segmentation.
I’ve seen my peers on Revenue Management do this but to actually have the know-how is something tangible that I can use to boost my career in a different direction if I want to.
I’ve also been getting into the positive and optimistic mindset the community has which is good! In general, I have to say the hospitality industry network scene is full of positive leaders and a desire to help each other out which makes the industry special I would say.
Would you recommend The Growth Works mentorship programme? Why?
I would definitely recommend and already have recommended The Growth Works program for both leaders in the industry and upcoming professionals such as myself.
The mentorship program is a win-win scenario for all parties involved since early-on professionals/students want to progress fast with this growth mindset (especially millennials). For top leaders, there is always the common saying that good talent is hard to find and this program bridges the gap between these groups by having the mentee learn early-on and have mentors actually form the upcoming talent and have already an established connection that could fill in a requirement in their organizations.