Career Advice Successful High flyers’ story

Passion for pastry moulds career

For Gloria Lau, 19, the hotel industry offered the chance to turn a passion for pastry into a sweet career. She joined Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Kowloon East hotel on a temporary contract in November 2012 and became a full-time employee in February. Holding the position of commis 2, Lau focuses on cakes and pastries. She won a gold medal at the HOFEX 2013 food and hospitality trade show in May, held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, for her jasmine and white chocolate mousse cake with figs (pictured).

Why did you choose a career in F&B?

I became interested in pastry when attending cooking classes in secondary school. Before my Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exam, I applied for a two-year diploma in hotel culinary management. I decided to work in the hotel industry because of its high quality and standards in pastry and desserts.

What would you say are some of the most interesting things about your role?

I had the chance to be the tutor of a children's cooking class, teaching them to make cotton candy, cookies and cupcake decorations. I very much enjoyed interacting with our little customers. I also like having the chance to express my ideas on newly created desserts.

Have you received any additional training or had any other career-advancement opportunities?

Yes. The hotel arranged a global brand service behaviour training programme - called "One Step Ahead" - and also provided Food Safety Management System training. The InterContinental Hotels Group - owner of the Crowne Plaza brand - offers an e-learning platform with courses on food safety, risk management and languages. The hotel is also willing to offer sponsorship on external curriculum and cross-training.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you've encountered?

Our hotel has one of Hong Kong's largest grand ballrooms, along with eight function rooms and four restaurants. All the pastries and desserts are handled by our team. It is a big challenge to set up and re-fill various buffet and dessert counters in a short time frame.

Many fresh grads say they aren't interested in hotel work because it's hard and has long, irregular hours. What would you say to those people?

Long and irregular working hours are very common across industries. We have to be more considerate and always step into our guests' shoes to anticipate their needs. Other industries focus on or value these requirements less, making hotel work more challenging. But harmonious working relationships, the satisfaction of receiving recognition from superiors or guests, and the skills I have learned, all outweigh these features.

What are your ambitions for the future?

France is filled with world-famous desserts and pastries. I want to travel to France and work there for a few years to widen my horizons. I'd like to have my own cake shop within 20 years.