Home' micenet eMag : micenet AUSTRALIA February March 2015 Contents INTERVIEW
WITH A GM
Q. What was your first job in the hotel
A. I took part in work experience as a
porter at a renowned hotel in Adelaide. After
that, I worked for free every weekend until
they hired me and gave me an opportunity to
kick-start my career.
Q. What is it about the industry that
attracted you to hotels?
considerable amount of time living in Asia
and from these very first experiences abroad
I was captivated by hotels and the special
experiences they offered people. That same
feeling still exists today.
Q. You are one of a select few female
hotel general managers in Australia. Tell us
about your journey to the top.
A. Like any journey, I set a vision and
worked towards that goal. I began as a porter,
worked my way up to reception and rooms
management. After proving myself in those
divisions, I worked across sales, marketing,
revenue management and operations. I made
it my task from the beginning to learn every
facet of this business and focus on applying
my business acumen in each role. When I was
approached to return to Australia for this
project two years ago, I was flattered and
privileged to be considered, however I knew
the level of commitment I would be
undertaking, not just as a general manager,
but as project manager for the redevelopment.
Further to that, I am a wife and mother to a
three-year-old, so ensuring personal and
career priorities meet in the middle is critical.
Q. The Langham Sydney just completed
a $30 million transformation. Tell us what it
was like managing that project.
A. Career defining is the best way to
describe the project in terms of knowledge
and learning as a general manager. From
market research, to ROI planning, tendering,
developing the design vision, appointing
designers and builders, through day to day
project management and HR planning – this
extraordinary project has encouraged me to
use the full depth and breadth of my skill set,
and allowed me to tap into new abilities, as
well as test myself as a leader.
Q. What impact do you expect the
recent reopening of the Langham Sydney will
have on the city’s hotel scene?
A. Sydney is a demanding city with high
expectations, and The Langham, Sydney
offers a luxury response to a demanding
marketplace which meets very high-level
needs. The international design elements alone
bring this hotel to the forefront of global
interest, while also captivating our local market.
Q. You’ve worked in luxury hotels
throughout Australia and internationally, how
do you define luxury?
A. Luxury is effortless, it’s elegant and
most importantly, it meets a demand that
goes far beyond necessity. The most
impressive luxury brands focus on high-level
service, thoughtful touch points, quality
products and a commitment to
understanding a guest’s needs – and
ultimately, pre-determining them.
Q. What has working in the hotel
business given you that you don’t think you
could have achieved in any other profession?
A. A journey of learning that is all-
encompassing and very diverse. Few
industries see the likes of a doorman,
housekeeper or receptionist become the
general manager of a global brand within 10
- 1 5 years, but inside this market, these
stories occur every day. The scope and
diversity of business knowledge and learning
is unlike any other industry I’m aware of, and
the encouragement to work your way
through each sector and never lose sight of
your career goals is inspirational.
Q. How have you seen the hotel
business change over the years?
A. Higher level of focus on loyalty
programs, more tactical marketing
approaches in connecting guests with
preferential brands and new products entering
the market such as dedicated lifestyle hotel
brands marketed directly at youth. m
Captivated by hotels from a young age, Sonia
Lefevre worked her way through the ranks
and now holds the top job at one of Sydney’s
newest luxury hotels, The Langham, Sydney.
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