HM recently managed to get hold of Daiwa Living Nesuto Holdings CEO, Mark Ronfeldt, for a friendly yarn, during which he divulged one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments from the early days of a great career.
What was your first job in the accommodation industry?
Food and Beverage trainee at the Sydney Hilton.
Can you tell us a funny, embarrassing or memorable story involving you from the early part of your career?
When I was a young GM – my third role as GM – I had been posted to Darwin with a company called Southern Pacific Hotel Corporation (SPHC). After working to gain the trust of the Gagadju Association, I was given the opportunity to run their fantastic properties in Kakadu.
Some months later, we were ready to sign the Management Agreement. The owners had a regular monthly meeting and on the agenda was the task of finalising the management agreement. I arranged to fly the Chairman of SPHC from Sydney to Darwin and transport him out to Kakadu to finalise the deal and sign the contracts in person. We had a great dinner with the owner’s representative the night he arrived and all looked on track. The owners meeting however did not take place the next morning because they had decided it was a great day to go hunting for turtles instead.
So, I had this major dilemma to deal with. How do I tell the company Chairman that I have wasted his time and the deal won’t get done today? I decided honesty was the best policy and when I explained to the Chairman what had happened and that the owners had gone hunting instead, the Chairman’s comment to me left me stunned. His reply was simply “The contract can be dealt with at any time. I wish they had taken me with them so I could learn more about their amazing culture.”
He was of course right. The agreement was signed and many, many years later, when the Management Agreements were up for renewal, the owners in Kakadu consulted me to ask whom they should hire to manage their incredible assets for the next 20 years.
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?
The joy of being in hospitality is you will always be part of a passionate team. You should choose to be in this industry if you are driven and passionate, but more importantly have a love for travel, service and caring for others. The best part though is the challenge that each and every day is different – so you will always be learning.