“PASSION, discipline, grit,” lists Miss Frances Carmen O. Siongco, Human Resources Manager of the Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo, relating some of the qualities necessary in someone that wants to excel in the competitive hospitality industry.
The first international brand hotel in the city, the Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo stands as fertile ground for the development of the region’s young and fledgling career hoteliers – with Miss Carmen always on the lookout for fresh talent and avidly invested in molding associates that are driven to grow with the global Marriott marque.
The self-professed cheerleader of the Courtyard’s 161-strong workforce, you’ll often find Miss Carmen hyping up her charge and spurring their energy during pep rallies and the hotel’s numerous team building activities.
“I’m the only person allowed to shout ‘Who are we?’ during big events,” she jokes – her prompt the cue for associates to proudly bellow back “Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo!” at the top of their lungs.
With over 30 years of management experience in a diverse slate of fields and now as president of Iloilo chapters People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP), the 56-year-old Miss Carmen sees the hospitality industry as her “last stop” of sorts in her storied career –owing to her love of the hotel profession.
About to celebrate her second year with the Marriott brand soon, she admits that accepting the job here in Iloilo was a leap of fate for her as she’s largely been based in Manila and grew up in Quezon City.
Nonetheless, Miss Carmen has built a unique extended family in the “City of Love,” guiding and cheering on the Courtyard’s associates, as she champions the Marriott brand’s core values of putting people first, pursuing excellence, embracing change, acting with integrity, and serving our world.
“I may not have children of my own, but I have more than 160 kids under my wing here at the Courtyard,” muses Miss Carmen. “That’s why I call them anak, and that term of endearment really comes from the heart.”
What do Ilonggos in the hospitality industry stand to learn from the first international brand hotel in the city, the Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo?
Siongco:In Marriott brand hotels, we aim to deliver memorable experiences that will set us apart from the usual fare, by going the extra mile for our guests. Our cornerstone is “put people first” – and that’s something we teach our associates to fully embody, to the point that it becomes their nature, their consistent habit, their second skin.
We follow the international standards of Marriott, grounded on the best practices in this global industry, to provide exemplary service and delight our guests. Learning the entirety of this international brand, you’ll be able to acquire a lot of skills and gain plenty of experience that you will not be able to get in any other property.
We are the first international brand hotel in Iloilo, and we are very proud of that. Marriott has policies and programs that potential associates will really want to find out about. We want to mold and be able to transform you into somebody at the forefront in the field of hospitality, there are so many opportunities for growth here.
Why should you consider a career with Marriott?
Siongco: Because definitely, we will ensure that you will have a good journey with us.We want our associates to have, not just a long-term career with us, but also an indelible relationship with the Marriott brand. Here we truly value our associates and build them up and fuel their aspirations. “Put people first” does not only apply to our clientele, but our workforce as well.
As our founder Mr. J. Willard Marriott would often say: We take care of our people, our people will take care of our customers, the business will take care of itself.
What are you looking for in new hires?
Siongco: It’s really a combination of skills and attitude. Skills you can more easily teach, but we value both equally.
Even if you’re a fresh graduate, why not take a chance and apply? People will often harp about how you lack skills and experience, but if you have the heart, dedication and proper mindset for service, Marriott can maximize on that to lead you forward. I will tap on your strengths, and for your areas that need improvement, we will invest time in training.
I will always encourage our fresh graduates to come and be part of Marriott. It can be here in Iloilo, maybe in Boracay later on, or Cebu or Manila – we have countless opportunities, you just have to seize them.
From F&B Associates to Managers, how would you describe the ideal Marriott employee?
Siongco: Someone who has the grit to bear all the unique challenges. With any set up, there will definitely be obstacles, but the key is having the passion to rise above it all and learn from any hindrances.
When you possess grit, passion and determination, it gives you that extra energy you need to get through the day with a smile, even when physically you’re tired, mentally you’re tired – being able to look forward to your next endeavor with optimism, your liveliness will not fall short if you have focus on what you want to achieve.
How would you describe the Marriott work environment?
Siongco:The Marriott working environment is very professional, but still very much grounded on the spirit of motivation. We value people, we value your contributions – whether small, medium, or large – whether to the business goals, to the training goals, or to the developmental goals, we celebrate our shared wins, big and small.
Here we empower people, we allow them to grow. We bank on their strengths and not hound their weaknesses. We believe there’s no point harping on a person’s mistakes, as it will only make them feel inferior. We need people who work confidently, that’s why we need to build the morale and self-esteem of our associates. Someone who is confident, knowledgeable and knows what to do will be able to deliver, as opposed to someone who has a shaky reserve – that’s something we would like to foster in our associates.
How does Marriott invest on its people?
Siongco:We have genuine desire to take care of our associates and we believe in their potential for growth and better things.
We invest in them in terms of trainings: we have local trainings, we have online trainings, we have webinars, we have conferences outside of the Philippines, name it. That’s how driven we are in supporting your continuous education.
But it’s not all just work-related. We really find time to be with our associates. Our year-round TakeCare activities aim to supportand celebrate our people – from town halls, to the annual Marriott Associate Appreciation Week, Housekeeping Appreciation Week, and Journey Week, among others. We seek ways to make them feel motivated and inspired.
At the Courtyard, we also cater to your physical and mental well-being, through activities that will build bonds and camaraderie: Zumba, Reflexology, Photo and Sketching classes, huddles about de-stressing and depression, and so much more –undertakings that will wholly develop our associates as well-rounded people.
Add to that our community and social responsibility activities that give back and really boost morale. Through our Serve360 initiative just this opening of classes, we donated 500 school supply kits to the students of Tabucan Elementary School in Mandurriao.
Marriott doesn’t stop supporting your learning and development. To this date we’ve maintained a high average number of training hours per associate. Here, we build up our people through trainings and relevant activities that will developtheir credentials and their preparedness for their respective journeys.
How would you describe an ideal Marriott leader?
Siongco: Again, someone who possesses the grit and vision to take charge. Even if you’re not in a management position, if you have grit, discipline, and passion you are a leader in your own right. Our general manager Miss CleofeAlbiso says it best: You don’t have to wait to be promoted to be a leader, be a leader today.
How does one apply for a job with Marriott?
Visit our website jobs.marriott.com. There you will be able to find all the properties and the positions seeking new people – on whatever localities, whatever continents, whatever countries, whatever Marriott brands. It all starts with the online application. If you are qualified, we will then reach out for the next process.
“At Marriott, we provide two things: opportunity and empowerment,” explains Miss Carmen. “In as much as we really lay out these two on the table for potential associates, there are people who do not have the energy, the passion, the intellect, or the grit to grab them.”
“Equipped with both, you have plenty of potential for upward growth,” she continues.“I’m telling you there are many Marriott brand hotels in the pipeline, at least ten to be opened in the Philippines in the next three years. We have to build a very strong Marriot brand – whether its Courtyard, Sheraton, Fairfield, JW Marriott, or Ritz Carlton – and how do we do that? Through the strengths and efforts of our valued associates.”
“Be part of Marriott, grow with Marriott, have the heart to be an associate,” concludes Miss Carmen. (NIV)