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Future leaders can check in
Liana Cafolla
update on Friday, March 4, 2011
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Swire Hotels will select around four recruits to join its two-year international management trainee programme in September.

The company is the owner-operator of two properties in Hong Kong - The Upper House above Pacific Place in Admiralty and EAST Hotel in Island East, Taikoo Place.

It also owns and operates The Opposite House in Sanlitun Village in Beijing, with a second hotel, which will be called EAST, to open next year. In Britain, it runs Chapter Hotels.

Maurine Yeung, head of people development, says candidates for the programme - now in its fifth year - should be adaptable, open-minded and have a positive attitude.

Aside from having a hospitality, tourism or related degree, candidates will also need to demonstrate their commitment to working in hotel operations and have the ambition to become a general manager or food and beverage director.

Those who succeed tend to be spontaneous people who like to try new things and are creative, flexible and enjoy change, she adds.

The training begins with a four-month stint at the central support office to cover the basics of people management, branding and finance. Frontline exposure then follows to put service concepts into practice.

"They will spend five or six months in one of the Hong Kong hotels," Yeung says. "Restaurants and bars and guest experience are the two major functions."

Subsequently, trainees go to Beijing or Britain, usually in pairs, to gain experience in an international setting before returning for a final rotation in Hong Kong for four or five months.

"We try to place them in a more supervisory role," Yeung says, adding that trainees are required to submit a report at the end of each attachment to help them reflect on their experience and share with management their suggestions or observations on how to improve operations and guest services.

Yeung says the programme aims to improve the trainees' leadership skills, business acumen and analytical prowess. One of the trainees, Matthew Mok, is undergoing his attachment to the restaurant and bar department at The Opposite House in Beijing.

When Mok was in Britain, one assignment was to produce a 25-year budget for a new hotel. This involved working with the designer and consultants, understanding market potential, conducting research on target customers and doing competitor analysis. He found the work challenging and exciting.

"Our learning and development is both formal and informal, encouraging us to observe and think from a broader prospective," he says.

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