Accor Pacific Chief Executive Officer, Simon McGrath AO
Accor Chief Operating Officer – Pacific, Simon McGrath AO

From his early days in hotels through to becoming an industry leader today, HM talks to Accor Pacific Chief Commercial Officer, Simon McGrath about his highly distinguished professional journey.

What was your first job in the accommodation industry and for how long?

My very first job in hospitality was pouring beers in a pub at the age of 15. However, my first more serious job in the accommodation industry after finishing school was in housekeeping at The Sydney Boulevard Hotel, which was one of Sydney’s finest five-star hotels at the time.

I worked in housekeeping for six months and then moved onto a cellar role. After working here for 1.5 years, I was afforded a management traineeship with the then Southern Pacific Hotel Group.

Simon with Dr Jerry Schwartz cutting the ribbon to open the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour in 2017.

Can you tell us a funny, embarrassing or memorable story involving you from the early part of your career?

One of my most memorable stories occurred when I was working in housekeeping at The Sydney Boulevard Hotel. A close colleague of mine asked me one day if he could borrow $200, which was a lot of money at the time.

I turned to him, being a very naïve and trusting 17 year old, and said: “Sure I’m happy to lend you $200, however, do you need any more than that?” He replied: “Well actually I need $500.” I thought he was a wonderful person so I agreed to help. I lent him the $500… and he never returned to work again (and I never saw the $500 again).

This was a very early lesson in life but it’s never stopped me from trusting people. A little incident like this would never take away from the thousands of good people in our industry.

Simon McGrath with a range of team members from St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to young people assessing whether hospitality or tourism is right for them as a profession?

To be in hospitality you need to have: a caring and compassionate nature, a very positive demeanour, and a strong mindset. I think if you have all three of these qualities, you’re going to have great influence in hospitality and tourism. With this in mind, the best advice I give to those wanting to succeed in the industry is the following three simple tips:

#Ask questions

#Give 110% of yourself

#Make people smile

If you can repeat these three things on an ongoing basis, I have no doubt you’ll be successful.