A new generation of Saudi hoteliers

Shortly after my arrival in the Desert Kingdom for a second tour of duty I took the opportunity to visit the renowned Al Hokair Hospitality Academy, where 200 young Saudi students are undertaking various courses in catering and hospitality management.

After spending a few hours talking with them about my own four decades of hospitality-industry service, I invited everyone to come and visit our hotels to see what is actually required to successfully manage and lead a very busy property.

A few weeks later I was very pleased to welcome to my hotel the first batch of 20 young Saudi hoteliers of the future. I gave them the grand tour of the property plus the opportunity to sit in my chair, at my desk, so they could see and get a feel for what it takes to manage, lead and develop a very busy operation and a workforce of more than 200 expatriates and Saudis in a very challenging and still evolving market.   

During the welcome briefing several of the students asked me what they should look for and consider when selecting an employer, as many were already being targeted by the major brands here in Riyadh, because every hotelier in Saudi Arabia must ensure its workforce comprises 25% Saudis, which is easier said than done in a market where there is a limited Saudi workforce with the skill sets and experience necessary.

This is what I told them based upon my own experience in many other “developing countries,” including Saudi Arabia:

1. Only apply for a position you really want.

2. Only work for — and with —a company you can respect and get along with and a company willing to commit to help you to grow your career and your earnings.

3. Visit the property before you sign on the dotted line to see how it looks and feels when you walk through the front door for the first time, because first impressions count for a lot.  

4. Try to find out how the employer cares for its associates in terms of commitment to their welfare, training and development, and their commitment to sharing their profits and people with the local community. 

5. Finally, try to meet the other members of your future team during the property visit, whether they are trainees or EXCOM members, so you can get an idea of how you will be welcomed and how you will fit in as a new member.

I then told them once these boxes are all ticked satisfactorily, they can then move on to discuss all the other essentials, such as salary and benefits.

Please share your own top job-search prerequisites.