If I look back at my career there have been highs and lows, achievements, mistakes and learning curves. But, the one constant has been the most amazing souls that have entered my life, some for a brief moment and others who remain a constant.
These people are the change makers, the ones who showed me how to become the person I am today. They didn’t always make it easy for me, they challenged me and made me the best I could be. Who are they? They are the mentors that took the time to support me and help me navigate the job I was working. They may have been a senior member of the management team, an older and wiser member of staff who has seen it all or a junior who had a different perspective on life.
Remembering my first mentor 30 years on
I found my first mentor working as a Chambermaid now known as a Room Attendant. Corrine was the Assistant Manager. She was intelligent, feisty, and strong – everything that I wasn’t. I used to watch her in awe as she effortlessly seemed to manage her job role, yet always took the time to support me. She employed me on a part-time basis and over a 12-month period took a shy, conscious teenager and gave her some essential life skills. Her message to me was always: ‘Claire, no point doing a job unless it is done properly!’. It is something that I have carried with me for over 30 years within the industry.
So, I ask you to think of all those who have held your hand, supported you and given you the courage to grow as a manager, entrepreneur, friend or simply a human being. It may have been a conversation, an experience or a training programme, but they made a difference.
Claire at 18, when she was a Trainee Manager at South Lodge Hotel, Sussex
You can make a real difference to someone’s career
At school I was told I would never achieve much, so I left and took a job cleaning rooms. In the big world I suddenly realised that I could be something and these wonderful people gave me opportunities that I thought were never available to me. I went from cleaning bedrooms at 16 to becoming a General Manager by the time I was 30 (in a male dominated role at the time). How? Because of these special people who saw something in me that I had failed to recognise in myself.
I continue to thank these people and know that it is so important to give back and I do my best to take the time to support the next generation: the trainee, the person desperate to gain experience, young or old. For if we are not there to offer support, how can we ever expect the lessons handed down to us to be passed onto the next superstar? As a teacher/guide/mentor there is nothing more satisfying than seeing the student outgrow you and excel and show you just how to do something great.
So, I dedicate this blog to all those people who took the time to support me. I disagreed with them sometimes and dug my heels in as I thought I knew better, but they shaped me, supported me, and gave me the courage to live my dreams.
What’s the message here? It’s simple. Don’t ignore that knock on your office door or the email that drops into your inbox asking for some work experience or support. We can all get snowed under with the stresses of our jobs, but step back for a moment and remember that individual who wasn’t too busy that day YOU needed some guidance.
Renata – my most recent mentee
I have been lucky enough to mentor many wonderful people over the years and will continue to do this for life. I met my latest mentee Renata via the Institute of Hospitality’s ‘Mentor Me Scheme’ that offers exclusive mentoring and focuses on career growth and development, for both experienced and new hospitality managers.
Here are a few words from Renata: “I started my mentorship with Claire about a year and half ago and – wow – what a breakthrough! Claire is not only a top professional in the hospitality business with many years of solid experience, but she is a highly intuitive person with a kind heart. Having said that, Claire gives very practical, doable, step- by-step valuable pieces of advice which has a very analytical and thoughtful approach, and gentle, loving and caring words of wisdom. Her energy is so soothing and I can’t thank Claire enough for boosting my self-worth & self-love level.
She truly believes in me – so how can I not believe in myself then? Claire is a gem and I’m happy that our mentorship sessions lead us to a beautiful friendship. I can always count on Claire – she guides me to reach potential and reach the sky!
Because of mentoring with Claire, I have a new job which I was only dreaming about. I landed in a famous luxury hotel chain to pursue my career in hospitality.”
Renata, Guest Recognition Specialist, Four Seasons Resort Seychelles