In an industry that is built on human interaction and grounded in human connection, the role of mentorship is a topic that has seen ever-growing importance in the hospitality sector.
As the vitality of mentors and mentees has increased, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, the value of the mentor/mentee relationship within the hospitality sector is further explored and the question is raised of what is required to make this relationship successful?
In this Thoughts on Thursday session, the reasoning and importance behind mentorship was investigated from a mentee perspective. Session attendees discussed how mentors can best support those early in their careers, the changing trajectory of a traditional career path and the importance of connectivity in the hospitality sector.
Here is a short summary of the conversations held this past Thursday, where we dived into this topic:
Thoughts on Thursday is a weekly discussion between members of The Growth Works Network. Sign up here if you’d like to join the debate next week or participate in our mentoring programme (as either a mentor or mentee).
A Mentee Perspective- The Role of Mentorship
This session began with Growth Works Network mentees Anuja and Sabah sharing their experiences with the mentorship program and what it means to them to be mentees.
Sabah explained that she had originally embarked in the mentee program to reignite her momentum in the industry. She spoke of the lack of awareness of non-traditional careers in the hospitality sector being a driving factor in her decision to become a mentee.
Sabah: “Joining The Growth Works helped me to discover things that I wasn’t even really aware existed in hospitality to begin with.”
Sabah also shared the value of engaging with a positive community and being open to learning from the experiences of those more seasoned in the hospitality sector.
Sabah: “It’s easier to learn from people rather than to try to do everything by yourself, to learn especially from the experiences of people.”
Anuja agreed with the importance of being an active member of the hospitality community. She spoke of the value of getting a global perspective through being a mentee.
A regional manager at Sofitel, she shared her own perspective on the role of connectivity within the hotel sector and its role in mentorship.
Anuja: “Since I joined the industry I realised that human networking is one of the key aspects of hospitality. If you want to grow in the industry, you need to know people, you need to have a good rapport with them.”
Both Anuja and Sabah shared the concerns they have regarding the current hospitality sector. While Anuja spoke of the importance creating a better work life balance to make the industry more attractive to a younger staff, Sabah explained the need for better awareness in the industry. She explained that many people do not understand the breadth of opportunity within the hospitality sector and this non-traditional career trajectory is something she aims to further explore.
Sabah: “It is not just that one vertical direction, you have many different horizontal options that are not explored or talked about.”
The Value of Information in a Changing Industry
James Lemon, CEO and Founder of The Growth Works, expressed the importance of quality information in an uncertain industry and posed the question of where people go to get this information?
Angelo Balbi, Hotel Operations Director of MSC Cruises, shared that he uses a number of sources to find information. Focusing on both online, print and social networking sources he can uncover accurate information specific to both the cruise industry and the wider hospitality sector that he can utilise to create successful business strategies.
Session attendee Pablo Torres also shared that he uses a variety of sources to gather information. He explained the importance of reading new information daily to remain up to date in the industry.
This was a concept that Patrick Wimble, Founder and Managing Director of Lightbulb Consulting, echoed. He suggested however going a step further, rather than just reading the articles he proposed examining how news and content could apply to individuals. Through building this knowledge and examining its relevance, those new in their careers can adapt the direction of their focus to find an area that is strategic, relevant and interesting to them specifically.
The Importance of Connectivity and Community Engagement
All the industries experts at this Thoughts on Thursday session emphasised the importance of networking and being active within the community.
Patrick suggested that this involvement within the hospitality and corporate community is a key aspect in building a personal brand. He posited that to build a brand it is important to focus on the question of what you want to be known for and then from that, find and create content and link with people working in that area.
Being active in the community, both through online and face to face avenues, promotes engagement and opens the door for employment opportunities. Expressing an opinion around topics demonstrates a keen interest and passion for the sector that is attractive to employers.
James agreed with this, challenging those wishing to take their career in a certain direction to write something for publication. This, he explained, helps people stand out from the crowd.
James: “For employers, the small things around personal branding and standing out from the crowd, are critical.”
The Emergence of Non-Traditional Career Path
As Sabah had previously expressed, hospitality is an industry that does not always have a clear career path. As this industry has been rocked by the Covid-19 pandemic, James shared that this sector may be forever altered and raised the questions of what support will be needed for those looking at what is next in their career? What resources, skills and experience will be beneficial for starting a career in a changed hospitality sector?
Session attendee Laura, spoke of her curiosity as to what roles she could undertake out of the operations side of hospitality. She shared that a possible strategy may be trying different jobs to find a niche position. She also shared a focus on networking and her desire to work in a sustainability based role.
Anuja, however spoke of the possible avenue of education. During the pandemic she explained that many people within her network have seen this time as a prime opportunity to gain further education and training to be in a more advantageous position when the industry reopens.
Patrick suggested seeing the situation with a different approach. He suggested focusing on a key area of interest and finding ways that area fits into the hospitality sector. He suggested the technology industry as one potential area that those wishing to pursue a non-traditional hospitality career path could focus on.
James agreed with this, echoing the technology industry as a sector that is a great transition from traditional hotel roles. He suggested that even for those wishing to work in the traditional hotel sector, pursuing a role in the technology industry may be a positive career move during the pandemic.
Sabah explained that she and many others within the sector have struggled to map out a career path as the hospitality sector does not have the vertical career paths of many other industries. She posited that a way to combat this issue is to focus on an area of interest and to expand job searches beyond the confines of traditional hospitality roles. She suggested that it would be beneficial for hotel schools to also raise awareness of non-operational and non-traditional hotel career paths.
While James agreed that there is no straightforward path, he suggested that mentors could help mentees discover potential career options. He also explained that the industry is always changing and it is likely that there is going to be new roles in new areas opening within the hospitality sector.
Patrick agreed with this idea, expressing the importance of sharing and creating content and knowledge in an interest area to grow as an industry leader
Adopting a New Way of Thinking
Both Patrick and Laura spoke of adopting a new way of thinking to thrive in a changed hospitality industry. This was a concept that Angelo also emphasised the importance of and the idea of challenging the status quo is something that his organisation embraces.
Angelo: “We move forward because we don’t accept anything as it was before. Nothing in this world is as it was before, so this I think is a great opportunity to challenge the status quo.”
James then posed the question of what role does mentoring play in this new hospitality environment?
Anuja shared that having a mentor provides the opportunity to see a different perspective on situations and challenges. Mentorship creates a valuable human connection and a wealth of experience for those early in their careers.
While Laura emphasised the importance of asking the right questions to mentors, she also spoke of the value of learning from the experience of a mentor and the benefit of having someone to discuss ideas with, particularly in an uncertain industry.
For Sabah, having a mentor provides the opportunity to gain career support and learn from the experience of others, this she explained, helps her to create her own career path in the industry.
Sabah: “Having a mentor helps to see the directions you can go in and ways to achieve what you want, through mentors sharing their experience as to how they got from where they were to where they are.”
You can watch the full version of the discussion by clicking here.
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