A Hotelier's Life – Part Theatre, Part Military.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon ~ thetransitcafe.com
Saturday, 9th May 2009
Yeoh Siew Hoon reflects on the lessons learnt during the first WIT*e-Inspiration & Mentoring held last week and to Nigel Roberts, president of Marina Bay Sands, hospitality is part theatre, part military.

In other words, you've got to be an entertainer and, at the same time, run the show like an army general. "It takes flair and discipline," he said.

Speaking on what it takes to build a career in hospitality at the first WIT*e on April 30, Roberts said the key ingredient for success is attitude and passion.

The right break and the right mentors also help. Roberts said he got his first break when he was working in a restaurant in London and was serving a customer. He must have impressed the gentleman so much that he returned and offered Roberts a job as a hotel manager for a company called Trust House Forte.

"It was good luck but you've also got to make your own luck and grab opportunities when they happen," said Roberts, who joined Marina Bay Sands earlier this year after heading Langham Hotels for several years as CEO.

He said he's had several mentors during his career. The trick is to take lessons from each one.

He called Marina Bay Sands an offer he couldn't refuse, likening it to "climbing Mt Eiger" in terms of a career challenge.

Every four days, a new floor is completed at the Integrated Resort which will have 2,600 rooms and more than one million square feet of meeting space, not to mention gaming, theatres and retail. It is an enormous operation that will require 10,000 staff, of whom more than 4,500 will be in gaming.

Response to the jobs has been overwhelming with more expressions of interest than there are positions. Roberts acknowledged that it was easier in this depressed climate to find talent but it remains a challenge to find the right people with the right attitude.

Yeoh Siew Hoon, one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, writes a regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry for 4Hoteliers.com.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her other writings can be found at www.thetransitcafe.com

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