HM recently enjoyed a coffee with Marriott International Area Vice President, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, Sean Hunt, where he opened up about a long and storied industry career which continues at full pace today.
What was your first job in the accommodation industry and how long were you in it?
I started as an assistant head butcher at Sheraton Grand Mirage Gold Coast in 1987. Six months later I was promoted to Chief Butcher and a few years later to Sous Chef, before I joined the front of house side of the business.
Can you tell us a funny, embarrassing or memorable story involving you from the early part of your career?
I have a lot of stories to share however the most memorable one connects to my heart. During my time as a young butcher at Sheraton Grand Mirage Gold Coast, I found the love of my life. She was a butler, so the story goes that the butcher chased the butler around the Sheraton until she said yes. We have now been married for over 33 years and have lived in four countries, three continents and shared numerous journeys following our greatest passions – food and travel.
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?
Three points to remember. It’s easy to get started as we have opportunities with part time roles that allow people to trial different areas of the hotel and see what it’s like, with the benefit of being paid whilst they try and figure out if it’s good for them. You don’t necessarily need a degree however a diploma does open doors.
Next – when you see a bridge, cross it. This is one of the very few industries where you can start at the bottom and reach the top job but you have to be open to change. Take chances – it may lead you to the top. Case in point is myself starting as a butcher and rising to Area Vice President. Or Craig Smith – he went from Housekeeping to Group President – International.
Finally – we follow Mr Marriott’s guiding principle: Put people first. We believe if we take care of our associates, the associates will take care of the guests. Join an organisation that will care for you and your growth.