All aboard on the 'Shangri-La Way'
Shangri-La hotels’ corporate trainees can look forward to an exciting and speedy career development, as the deluxe hospitality chain is expanding its properties to more than 100 hotels in three to four years.
“With 45 hotels in the pipeline, we need 45 general managers, 45 resident managers, 500 division heads and 2,000 department heads in the near future,” says Daisy Wong, Kowloon Shangri-La’s director of human resources who is recruiting five trainees – out of the 200 the group is hiring worldwide this August.
“We hire them for supervisory level [position] and train them to possess all the skills of supervisors,” she adds.
The selection process includes a competency-based online assessment and interview, through which the company identifies candidates with the right attitude and talents. The list of desired qualities is long, aimed at whittling down the expected 200 to 300 applicants to just a few.
“Candidates should have strong communication skills, cultural competency and customer focus, and should strive to deliver quality service. They should have integrity and values, attention to detail in execution, and consistency in quality. They should also be able to challenge the status quo with innovation and suggestions, and be willing to learn and accept change,” says Wong, adding that applicants must also be mobile, so that they can transfer to sister hotels, if needed.
The 16-month training has three phases. The first starts with a two-month orientation to all areas of hotel operations. In the following two months, the trainees will undergo institutional learning at the Shangri-La Academy in Zhuhai to ensure standardisation of the “Shangri-La Way” across the group. Trainees must learn to live according to Shangri-La’s core values – including humility, courtesy, respect, helpfulness and sincerity – and to execute the group mission faithfully: “To delight our guests every time by creating engaging experiences straight from our hearts.”
The second phase will focus on specialisations through learning and mentoring. And the final phase will see the trainee perform the actual role.
“The division heads act as mentors. Trainees get to know the operations better and we get them involved in new initiatives,” Wong says.
Kathy Yang, a guest relations service leader who studied hotel management at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, says the training has been quite challenging. “You have projects but you also have to work as a staff member. Time management is important,” she says.
Yang’s latest project was setting up an e-system for the concierge team. She had to research different systems, find compatible programmes, contact vendors, and then recommend options. It was a drawn-out process, but as a result of Yang’s efforts, the concierge team can now plan, forecast and contact the hotel’s airport representatives – all by fingertips.
“It is my baby and it is growing up now. It’s exciting to see that you are making contributions to the hotel,” Yang says.
On their last month, trainees join another hotel – Kowloon Shangri-La and Island Shangri-La usually swap trainees – for some job rotation.
Corporate trainees go through other programmes, such as trainer skills and e-learning via the eCornell system, where they can choose subjects relevant to their target roles.
Wong says training is provided at every step of the career ladder to ensure staff are well prepared to make the next step on the “Shangri-La Way”.