At the third Tern Travel Careers, veteran hotelier Jennie Chua shared nuggets of wisdom on what it takes to build a meaningful career in hospitality, including 'it’s the hotel that makes you, not the other way round'.
In her early days starting out as a young hotelier, Jennie Chua, whose family went from riches to rags, remembers “living in abject poverty”.
“I would hide it from everybody because it was a source of embarrassment and even shame, but when you grow up and start becoming successful, you wear your poverty as a badge of honour,” said Singapore’s hospitality grand dame.
Speaking at the third Tern Travel Careers, an event focused on inspiring talent to enter the industry, Chua, an industry pioneer who carved her career with brands such as Raffles Hotel, Westin and Ascott, as well as the Singapore Tourism Board, reminded the audience of university students, graduates and young executives to never forget their roots.
She said that while the hospitality industry can often be quite glamorous, “it’s rather an artificial world, not a continuation of a day-to-day world. You must be able to, at the end of the day, come back home [to your real life] and be able to say ‘this is my life, I’m happy with it’.”
Behind the glitz, glamour, wining and dining that people often associate with a hotelier’s job, Chua said that one of the largest misconceptions in hospitality is that “hoteliers are just good PR people… very little brain after [that].”
“You need to know finance, strategy, marketing, F&B (understanding the concept of food presentation, hygiene), thinking like an engineer – otherwise, how will you get good engineers to work for you? – security, corporate communications…,” the list goes on.
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