Sunday, December 5, 2010

Learning and Development – The Gift You Give Yourself and Others

How committed are you to continuous learning, both for yourself, and for those who work with you?

I, for one, love to learn, to see and be exposed to new ways of looking at the many and varied components that make up our dynamic industry, which arguably, is always changing.

As I write this entry today, I am awaiting the final grade, on my final assignment, for my last subject, to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management.

For a variety of reasons, I had to leave home when I was 15 years old, and started working shortly thereafter.

As a result, I was unable to complete high school, at the time, let alone pursue any post-secondary education.

I tried to continue my schooling, for as long as possible, but I simply couldn’t manage the demands of working, full-time, with a full course load at high school, and since I had to eat and keep a roof over my head, the choice was fairly clear – I had to quit school.

I worked at a number of entry-level jobs for the next several years until I began what I thought would be my career, as an electrician – a job that I worked at, as well as several others in construction, for the next several years.

But, as I have written before, it was, quite by chance, a few years later, that I landed a job in a Hotel as a bellman and came to realize that I had found my calling.

I knew as I began to progress into Supervisory positions that I was going to need to complete my high school education at some point, and so, a few years later I applied to take my grade 12 equivalency test.

I obtained the study materials and spent as much time as I could reviewing the material before taking the exam, which I did, and for which I passed and obtained my GED.

I would have loved to have then pursued post-secondary education, but now I was enjoying continuous advancement in an industry that I loved and had a natural ability for.

I was far too excited and enjoying myself far too much to have even considered leaving the Hotel business long enough to obtain my degree at that time.

And so I worked, and as I worked I participated in any and all of the training and personal development that I could along the way, both from within my respective companies at the time, as well as through outside sources, such as local Colleges and Universities.

Ironically, in spite of enjoying an enviable level of success over the years, including hosting world leaders in the first G8 Summit post 9/11, among other significant accomplishments, I always felt that there was something left unfinished.

And so it was that I was fortunate enough to find the Executive Cohort Degree Program – Bachelor of Hospitality Management, being offered at Vancouver Community College and specifically geared towards people just like myself.   

I applied as soon as I became aware of the program and I have spent the last 2 years enjoying the company of many senior Hospitality executives who had a similar history to my own.

Although I was no stranger to any of the topics that we studied, I have enjoyed being exposed to new points of view, and perhaps in particular, how the many developments in technology and social media have drastically changed the Hospitality landscape forever.

And when I “officially” receive my degree, which I will shortly, it will indeed be a proud day for me, having achieved my goal of obtaining my Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management, a testament to my passion for continuous learning, personal growth and development, and a commitment to excellence that can only be achieved by constantly challenging yourself, and the status quo.

What are you doing to challenge yourself, and as importantly, what kind of an environment are you creating at your Hotel when it comes to training and development?

Our industry is always changing, always evolving, and as a result, if we hope not only to keep up, but rather to stay one step ahead of our many competitors, we too need to be open to change and the continuing evolution of the Hospitality industry.

You can be a leader in this area, an example to others, or, you can spend your career playing catch-up to those leaders that are changing and shaping our industry for the future.  

Which will you choose to be? 

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