Mandy Wong, a trainee on Starwood's career programme, is currently working as assistant manager at W Hong Kong.
"My current role is to lead the hotel's signature 'Whatever/Whenever' service department, offering our guests assistance of any kind," she says. "We come up with whatever a guest wants, whenever they want it - so long as it's legal, of course - making use of all kinds of resources, from the hotel's network of contacts to the internet and even personal friends. Furthermore, we try to surprise guests with something extra."
Delivering a fruit hamper to a hospital in Seoul in three hours and helping one guest retrieve a lost purse at Britain's Heathrow airport are just two examples of unexpected requests, she says.
"Supervising a team of 10, thinking of ways to create special moments for our guests and creating a fun environment for staff are also part of my job. On top of day-to-day operations and strategic assignments in the department, I need to keep up with classes or complete training-related assignments," Wong says.
Wong joined W Hong Kong - which, along with Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers and Le Meridien Cyberport, represents Starwood's presence locally - in 2008 after graduating from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
She says mentoring is one of the most valuable aspects of the trainee programme. "The guidance and practical advice offered by my mentor was definitely very important. It complemented the traditional parts of the training, which covered essential skills and corporate style, which inspired me a lot. I think good mentoring gives trainees a wider perspective, allowing them to get more out of the learning process," she says.
Starwood's trainee programme is divided into four "tracks", or stages: entry level, mid-management, executive committee and EAM/GM (executive assistant management/general management). Wong, who is currently on the mid-management track, hopes to be chosen as a candidate for the EAM/GM track in the future.