First hospitality job:
I was 16 and lived in a little town in Northern Ontario - I was a Cook and Waitress at a place called La Piazza. I literally went into the dinning room, took the order and then went into the kitchen, put on an apron, cooked and did dishes!
Age you started working in hospitality:
16 ( over 35 years)
Your inspiration to begin working in hospitality:
I had a special teacher in high school tell me I had the personality to be in hospitality. I quickly realized I loved pleasing people, having the ability to turn people and experiences around.
When I told my mom I was going to college for Hotel Restaurant Resort Management - she said" you're going to school to be a waitress? " God Love her - but she didn't know the career and lifestyle that would be at my fingertips. That really fueled me to show her there was more to a hospitality career than the average person understands.
I tried a lot of things.... working in retail, working in banking. I left and came back. Looking back, I know I was really born to be in hospitality.
My hospitality mentor:
I have so many... My first one was Peter Zafiris (a man who owned 2 restaurants in my little town). In my eyes he was famous, and that lifestyle was glamorous. I ultimately worked at both places. Then of course the people (too many to name) at the Banff Springs who taught me the finer things in life and standards in Hospitality. My true mentor, however, is Nancy Keizer, she was a true leader had so much patience. She genially appreciated and valued me as an employee. She taught me about having grit with elegance and grace.
What are your favourite aspects of your job?
I have been able to travel to so many places outside of my small Northern Ontario town (the perks of Hospitality) I have learnt so much. I love being headhunted and transferred too many different companies and roles. And I have so many stories to tell!!
I eat the best food, drink the best drinks and meet so many people I would have only dreamt of meeting - Like Whoopi Goldberg and Cuba Gooding Jr.
But most of all.... I can be myself. I equate hospitality to being an artist - everyday is a blank canvas. I love it when I can have an upset guest come in and when they leave, they are in love with us, sending in praise and telling all their friends about their great experience.
What has inspired you to continue your career path in hospitality?
It is just pure love - not everyday but if you can say you love what you do most of the time then it is what you were meant to do.
Advice for students interested in a career in hospitality:
It is hard work, but it can also be so fun, fulfilling and rewarding. Work your way up, know all the departments so you have a wealth of knowledge and are indispensable and finally …dress and act for the part you want, not the part you have.