Career Advice Company Initiatives

85 for 85

The Peninsula ties hiring drive to major anniversary

As The Peninsula Hong Kong celebrates its 85th anniversary this year, the hotel also has plans to recruit 85 junior staff to facilitate the implementation of its five-day working week initiative, launched in June this year.

Jenny Chan, the hotel’s director of human resources, says that they look for individuals with a passion for service and the hotel industry, and who work well as part of a team. “Experience and skills are definitely not our first priority in screening, as we believe that anyone can learn skills and acquire experience at The Peninsula once he or she becomes part of our family,” she says.

As part of the recruitment drive, the hotel is looking for university graduates to hire as corporate management trainees. “Candidates who have internship or working experience with the hotel before will have an advantage,” Chan says. “[Trainees] are identified as future leaders of the hotel and undergo an 18-month training programme to get familiar with hotel operations and acquire knowledge and management skills.”

Another important opening is that of page boy, a position that was created by the hotel in 1928. “This position plays an important role in our hotel because it is the first contact point to create a memorable experience for our guests,” Chan says. “We are looking for candidates with a passion for service who don’t mind shift hours and would like to develop a long-term career with the hotel. They will start as page boy and will undergo cross training in other departments after 18 months’ service. After cross training, they will be assigned different roles in other departments including baggage, F&B and front-office departments.”

The hotel provides a comprehensive 90-day orientation programme for new hires to provide a thorough understanding of the hotel’s history and its service standards. “We want our staff to have a deep understanding of the ‘personality of Peninsula’ and the skills to apply the principles of exceptional customer service by creating unique experiences,” Chan says. “Apart from classroom training, [new hires] will undergo specific departmental on-the-job training and cross training in other related departments. We also run a buddy system to assist them in adapting to working in the hotel.”

Providing staff with adequate training to move up in their careers is one of the hotel management’s main priorities. “For career advancement, we have a number of soft-skills and management-training workshops which improve their knowledge and competencies in leadership, entrepreneurship, operation management and project management,” Chan says. “We also encourage our colleagues to join our global cross-exposure programme, which aims to give them the opportunity to learn best practices from selected operations and broaden their skill sets by experiencing a new operational environment, team and culture. High-potential talents will be nominated to take management courses at Cornell University [in the US] to build their networks in the industry and expand their individual development.”

The hotel believes strongly that employees are family members and works to sustain long-lasting relationships. “All employee contributions are recognised even after their retirement,” Chan says. “We organise a retiree gathering every year and invite all hotel retirees to attend. Retirees with more than 20 years of service have the same entitlement as other permanent employees, i.e. a three-night complimentary stay at one of our sister properties per year.”

Andrea Platts, assistant front office manager at the hotel, joined three years ago as a management trainee fresh out of Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland. She embraced the chance to learn and grow with the world-famous hotel brand.

“Working at one of the most prestigious hotels in the world has really taught and shown me the meaning of excellence and high standards,” she says. “It has taught me to expect more of myself and to really go the extra mile whenever possible. [The hotel] took a leap of faith in me when giving me the job as assistant front office manager and I feel indebted to them in the most wonderful way.”

Platts is well aware of the importance of constantly upgrading herself to thrive in the hotel industry. “The company has a strong drive to stay top of its league, which requires constantly reviewing procedures, updating technology and making changes,” she says. “The operational teams must constantly learn to adapt to changes, which can be challenging for a hotel that is also strongly attached to its heritage and past.”

With such a great importance placed on development, the hotel’s learning and development team is constantly organising training activities for staff. “Besides internal training, there are external training programmes where consultants or external facilitators are brought in to host workshops,” Platts says. “Everyone loves to feel that they are learning.”

Platts’ career goal is to become a general manager. “I am a firm believer in simply taking things one step at a time,” she says. “Experience and knowledge is what counts in this industry, not how quickly you get there.”