‘A ho­tel is still the best place to start off see­ing the world’

China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG - By SO­PHIE HE in Hong Kong so­phiehe@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

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.”

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