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Attitude is the key, competition for young people is fierce: this is how Marriott is looking for new talent

When you think of a hotel, you think of three or four jobs, but there are about 80 to 100 positions," said Pankaj Birla, Regional Vice President of Marriott International. There is a lot of competition for young people and many industries are hunting for people who can do well in hotels because they are customer focused and have good emotional intelligence. The industry, which has been reinvigorated after the covid, needs both young people and career changers. The hotel chain is now launching a training programme in Budapest for young aspiring chefs.

Marriott képzés szakács beszélgetés-

Marriott International currently has nine hotels in Hungary and plans to open three more. So staffing is a key issue for the company. That's why they have teamed up with the Budapest Complex Vocational Training Centre and Civil Impact on a project to put together a training programme for young people. The idea for the project was conceived two years ago at the suggestion of Pankaj Birla, Vice President DACH (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) and Eastern Europe at Marriott International, and the joint work will now start in April for nine students who will receive three months of training, including with Marriott's head chefs, and who will receive an accredited, state-recognised assistant chef qualification at the end of the course. After the programme, they could even have the chance of a job offer from the hotel chain. And the longer-term plan is to launch courses in other professions, with the next one starting in the autumn, in a similar partnership.

80-100 jobs in a hotel

Inspiring personal stories were also told at the opening of the programme. Like Cameron McNeillie, the general manager of the Dorothea Hotel in Budapest, his career started in the kitchen more than 20 years ago. So it's a very varied career if you're open to it and willing to learn. Providing training and internal career paths is an important objective for HR and an important part of the organisational culture, confirmed Francisca Martinez, HR Director for EMEA, who also stressed that this diversity, the possibility to move between hotels and countries, the career arc within the company, also helps retention.

Marriott Pankaj Birla

Vice President Pankaj Birla started at Marriott more than 30 years ago in a physical job

Cameron McNeillie indicated that when people think of a hotel, they usually think of three to four jobs, when in fact there are roughly 80 to 100 jobs in a hotel. So, those who start their careers here can gain insight into a wide range of occupations and professions, with the added possibility of moving within the group through retraining. In other words, the programme can be a major stepping stone. You can start networking in the kitchen, and curiosity and courage are also very important qualities," the director continued. He stressed that the best way to learn is through practice, on the job.

Szabolcs, one of the young people starting the training, said that he used to work in the insurance industry at the instigation of his mother, but found it very monotonous, so he turned to one of his passions and hobbies, the kitchen, and that is why he enrolled in the programme. The students said that they expect a good workplace to have a good atmosphere, appreciation, patience, a sense of purpose in what they do and a work-life balance. Ferenc Kovács, Executive Sous Chef at the Budapest Marriott, one of the mentors of the programme, said that in this job, punctuality, humility and attention are important.

The students also said that they are looking for a job that is more than just a job, but also a job that is more fun and more rewarding.


Ferenc Kovács: Accuracy, humility and attention are important requirements in our work

The students, if they do well during the training, may even get a job offer from the company. Once they join, they become part of the "family", with a personalised development plan for each individual, with a range of training programmes. After a year or two, they can move to another area, hotel or country.

The more diverse the skills, the more diverse the opportunities

The hospitality industry is not in an easy position from a labour market point of view, because while in the past it was mostly other hotel chains and the tourism sector that had to compete for labour, nowadays more and more industries are trying to attract employees with useful skills: They are customer-focused, have emotional intelligence - so they come in handy in the retail and service sectors, among others, says Francisca Martinez, HR director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. There is no easy solution, which is why programmes like this are important, because they reach young talent who have not worked in this field before. Many are not even aware of the diversity of job opportunities in this field.

Other training programmes are also running within the hotel chain, such as the Voyager programme, which aims to develop young managers, or Elevate, which specialises in front-line hotel workers who can become middle managers. The message is that if you want to grow and you invest in your own learning, the company will invest in you. There is a whole strategy for this in the group, the European HR director stressed.

Willingness to learn and attitude is the key

Asked by HR Portal what other resources the company uses for recruitment, Francisca Martinez listed that in addition to young people, they also target more mature age groups who can bring valuable experience, and that it is important that potential employees can connect personally with the company, so the role of individual stories, which they also work with, is significant. They have launched a communications campaign in which their own employees share what it's like to work for the company and be part of the community. The motto is "you can be anything you want to be at this company if you want to be." This campaign was launched after the outbreak and although a lot is changing in tourism, it seems that people want to travel, they want to experience it and the luxury sector is growing three times as fast as other areas.

Marriott training group picture

Francisca Martinez, HR director: we're not just looking for young people

The two top executives also talked about the skills and abilities they are looking for, what they see as critical in the hotel business. Pankaj Birla highlighted attitude. As he said, if they can find employees with the right attitude, the rest is learned through organizational culture and training for colleagues. If you have the desire to learn, there is no problem, he said. He cited the opening of a hotel in Tirana as an example, where a number of employees who had never worked in the hotel industry before were hired, but were able to jump at the job. He stressed that retention - that is, employees who stay - is the basis of organisational culture, and that if few people leave, the culture "happens". And the HR team is very good at providing tools for managers to make retention successful.

In the opening photo are the roundtable discussion participants. From left to right.

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