How did you get into the hotel business?
I moved to Canada many years ago with nothing more than C$100 (currently about HK$750) in my pocket. I went to school, then went on to do a hotel management course. I graduated with a scholarship from Hilton International, but not before being awarded "The person most likely to succeed in the hotel industry" by them.
After working for Hilton, I moved to the Four Seasons and then to the Delta Hotel in Vancouver, which is where I stayed until I started my own business at the age of 37.
After being away from Hong Kong for over 35 years, I thought it was a good time to come back, and six years ago, I incorporated Rhombus Hong Kong with the Peterson Group. Within three years, I opened the three Hong Kong hotels that we have today.
The hotel industry is a fascinating industry, especially if one likes people. It is a people business and, as a leader, I like to lead by example. I always ask people what I can do and I expect them to offer and look for ways they can help, too. If you have high expectations and demands for your staff, you also have to care for each of them and give them opportunities to grow.
The hotel business takes years to learn, and a lot depends on how far one wants to go. At the management level, one has to work himself up from a junior manager to middle management level, then from junior executive to the executive and then the corporate stages.
"Corporate" is another area entirely. It's more about building hotels, leading teams, and turning a piece of raw land into a beautiful property. I, myself, am lucky since I have had the chance to work in every position of a hotel, and so can relate to every employee - even the dishwasher.