‘A hotel is still the best place to start off seeing the world’
Jennifer Cronin, president of Marco Polo Hotels, hails from a part of the world known for its great tourist attractions — the Gold Coast of Australia — where she grew up in an environment with a lot of travelers coming through.
“I think my career started as an exchange student to Japan, where I discovered my first taste of international travel at the age 17,” she says.
Cronin attended Griffith University, which ranks among the world’s top universities, with five campuses in the northeastern Australian state of Queensland. She majored in Japanese and economics and, after graduation, many of her school mates went on to do foreign affairs, but she had this “travel bug” in her. She thought the best way for her to see the world was to start out in hotels.
“My first job was doing room service at a hotel in Australia. I worked very quickly through various positions, and I believed the best hotel manager is someone who understands what happens in every department. There are so many different departments in a hotel to make it work and provide a wonderful experience for our guests. And, you have to know how to deliver that experience.”
She was fortunate being able to move rapidly through the ranks, having served as vice-president of sales and marketing with Dusit International, as well as in marketing and operational managerial positions with leading hotel groups like Hyatt International and Ritz-Carlton.
Prior to joining Marco Polo Hotels, Cronin returned to Australia to do her doctorate at Bond University and completed her PhD last year.
“After completing that, I looked at where I would like to work next, and Hong Kong was very much my number one priority because it’s a very dynamic city and is forever changing, forever growing, I felt I can learn a lot in such an environment and, at the time, I knew Marco Polo very well. I knew some of the people who had worked here in the past. The post of vicepresident of sales and marketing was available.”
Cronin was appointed vicepresident of sales and marketing of Marco Polo Hotels in July 2014. In February this year, she took another big stride forward, becoming president of Marco Polo Hotels.
She claims that the “secret” of her success includes always being prepared to commit herself to her personal development, giving back to the company and, definitely, hard work.
“You also need to be positive about finding opportunities out of problems, not dwelling in the negative, but to look for the best options. Integrity is also important, being honest and mentoring young people coming through. The more you give, the more you get back. That’s my philosophy in life.”
Life is very short, she says, so people should not waste their time sleeping. She would rise between 4 and 4:45 each morning, and be at the gym by 5 o’clock.
“Life’s about making the most of every moment, so get out there and do it.”
As a leader, communicating with staff and be a part of what they do is important. Cronin always gathers feedback from her staff, understand what they want, and try to be a good role model by setting the example of being able to overcome any challenge.
“I’m a more consultativestyle manager, making sure we have the feedback but, at the end of the day, you have to make the final decision, and making sure your decision is what most people would accept.”
As a career woman, she believes it’s crucial to make time for your own personal career development.
“I go to the gym to do yoga. Sometimes, I work 13 or 14 days, even on Saturdays, but I still enjoy the quality time I have with my husband. We seek little adventures, go hiking or things like that, so I guess it’s about making a commitment to yourself, and knowing that you deserve some time out.”