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No shortcut to top positions
Andrea Zavadszky
update on Friday, August 19, 2011

Management training programmes are becoming popular as companies start to appreciate their practicality. Usually they come across as one-fits-all solution, training dozens of young employees over the years.

Seldom do companies invest in programmes that serve the interest, talent and experience of each individual trainee.

Grand Hyatt Macau, which opened its doors in 2009, is one of a few companies with a customised learning plan developed for its "corporate leadership trainee."

"Important factors such as feedback from previous programmes, the new trainee's area of specialisation, previous work experience and any specific skills he would like to develop are all considered and incorporated into the learning plan," says Kris Herring, director of learning and development at Grand Hyatt Macau.

The company is equally flexible when hiring future trainees. Herring says: "We do not specifically limit the number of trainees we take at any given time."

In case there are no vacancies in Macau, talented applicants will be referred to the director of recruitment for Asia-Pacific to see if there are suitable vacancies at any other Hyatt properties.

Applicants should have a bachelor's degree, speak a second language and some work or internship experience in a hotel.

"A positive attitude, passion for hospitality and service combined with a clear career focus on a specific area of hotel operations are some of the most important soft skills a potential candidate can demonstrate," Herring adds.

The programme typically has 12 months' formal training and six months' structured coaching in the department of specialisation, which can be any major operating field, including food and beverage, room division, sales and so on. The first part of the programme exposes trainees to all the departments outside their chosen area so that they can understand how all areas are linked up. The second part is based on their chosen area. For six months, they are also enrolled in the "management development programme" to develop their soft skills. In addition, they get support from a mentor assigned to them, and from the learning and development department.

One of the most challenging tasks for trainees is to present their observations in each department they work for and come up with suggestions.

Dora Leong, who recently finished her training and is now assistant manager of concierge, says: "I worked very closely with management to see why some suggestions work while others do not."

She advises trainees to understand that the management training programme is not a shortcut to a management position.

"It is a very tough path as you need to go through the job of junior employees to be a member of the management team," she says.


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