As a veteran hotelier and prominent sales executive, I have no regrets about my career choice and am excited and inspired by the scope of opportunities in the hotel industry today. This is a fantastic time to get into the hospitality business—there are so many choices. The industry offers opportunities for people from a wide range of disciplines, and needs people with backgrounds in technology, engineering, finance, law, sales, marketing, food and beverage services, conference management, communications, real estate, human resources, labor relations, graphic design, foreign languages and more. Most of all, the industry needs workers with strong interpersonal skills, an ability that benefits the guest, the company and the employee.
A graduate of the Pennsylvania State University’s Hotel Management School, I have some advice for those starting out in the wide world of hospitality
Authenticity and Humanity Are Key
Opportunities for face-to-face interactions are shrinking, and the result is a lack of authenticity in our daily outreach. This is a serious challenge for any business, service or otherwise. When choosing a career, new graduates should look at the industry’s culture and ask questions beyond pay, benefits and promotions. Ask what kind of interactions you will have with your colleagues, managers, suppliers, the public. Will your career choice offer you a paycheck as your sole compensation, or will you reap the rich rewards that come from exposure to many different people, cultures, and belief systems that can teach valuable life lessons in leadership and human relations?
Work Harder, Get Luckier
I believe in working harder—and smarter— with personal and professional goals always in mind. Consistently ask what you need to do to get to the next step on your career path. Don’t think that a task is beneath you. In the hotel business, crises big and small arise. If you can’t help when there is a power failure, what are you going to do when there is a serious emergency such as an earthquake, storm, flood or a reservations system crash?
Take on More, Learn More
Accept as much responsibility as anyone will give you—take on more than what is expected of you. Don’t just concentrate on finishing your current workload—raise the bar by resolving to do an exceptional job. Ask to take on new responsibilities, train in new areas and learn all you can about our complex, challenging and ever-evolving world. This is a form of leadership that will drive both personal and team performance.
Think Big, Dream Big
Everything is possible for those who think and dream big. The only thing that is stopping you from doing exactly what you want is belief! Believe in yourself and believe that whatever it is that you do, you will do exceptionally well. The key is to Think Big, don’t let a selfimposed boundary get in the way.
Seek and Meet Challenges
Meeting challenges, not avoiding them, is a key part of career development. It is important to put yourself in uncomfortable situations that stretch you beyond what you thought you could do. Graduates who place themselves in challenging situations will learn a great deal about themselves and their industry.
A little introspection goes a long way in setting goals and building that all-important belief in oneself. The questions that you must consistently ask are: Am I living up to my potential? Am I on the right career path, and what is missing in my life plan?
Learn a Foreign Language
In a global economy, fluency in a second or third language is essential to effective employee and customer relations.
Mike Schugt is the president of Teneo Hospitality Group and has over 25 years of sales and marketing experience in the hospitality industry, primarily in sales leadership. Mike is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. Additionally, Mike is fluent in Spanish and German.