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FOUR SEASONS HOTELS AND RESORTS PURSUES EXCELLENCE
Rami Sayess, regional vice president of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Beirut exemplifies why the company is one of ‘Fortune’s 100 Best Companies To Work For’.
Are you recruiting? If yes, what positions are you looking to fill?
Business and leisure travel activities have increased over the past 18 months and we have witnessed promising indications that this will continue to be the case in 2018. As a result more jobs became available in different areas of our operation (laundry, kitchen, service to name a few…). Yes we are currently recruiting managerial positions along with line employees, casual and seasonal employees in preparation for our upcoming summer season.
What kind of methodology do you follow and what specifically are the qualities that rank highest in a candidate?
At Four Seasons, our greatest asset is our people, hence our efforts start at the recruitment stage. We spend a great deal of time finding the right people and making sure they’re equipped to provide our guests with a unique and personalized experience. We also make sure we hire people who think like us and believe in our golden rule of “treating others the way they wish to be treated”. Personality/attitude is key for every candidate to make it to the second stage of the interview process. Employees are first assessed on specific Four Seasons competencies and are also given the chance to assess if Four Seasons is the right company for them (the interview process is a two-way street, both parties are involved in the decision making process). At Four Seasons we don’t hire to fill a gap but we hire those whom we believe have potential to grow, thus helping our long-term goal of developing the future leaders in luxury hospitality.
How important is experience as opposed to education?
Ideally you need both but it all depends on the individual and how motivated he/she is to build a career. Education offers a solid foundation on which one can start, but this only represents the beginning. What comes next is decided by self-motivation and company support, but above all the respect an employee must earn from colleagues, peers and superiors alike. After all we are in the people business and the support of people is imperative to one’s success! Learning has become accessible and can take place remotely thanks to advanced technology. At Four Seasons education never stops, be it in the form of ‘on the job training’, e-cornell courses etc…
What are the perks of working for a hotel like yours?
Over the past 21 consecutive years, Four Seasons has been named on the list of ‘Fortune’s 100 Best Companies To Work For’. Our employees across the globe have honored us as an employer of choice every year since the list’s inception. As per our employees, we are a “Great Place to Work Legend.” So being a member of this family and representing The Four Seasons brand is highly inspirational. At the same time being a Four Seasons Ambassador (every Four Seasons employee) gives us the responsibility to behave in a way that is representative of the Four Seasons brand at all times!
Do you have or offer any learning and development programs/courses to your employees?
At Four Seasons, each learning activity is aimed at impacting the guest experience and supporting the culture of the company. By investing in and committing to effective training at all levels, we build competence and confidence in our employees, thus enabling us to sustain a competitive advantage in service excellence and to enhance the quality, retention and application of learning in the workplace. A focused learning resource then works hand-in-hand with management to develop and enhance the skill levels of employees. Acting as an internal consultant, the learning resource assesses the causes and effects of communicated needs and advises on appropriate solutions. These solutions may not always be training solutions, however, but could be related to management, morale, equipment or systems. We believe it is through this philosophy of treating training as a dynamic process that true development occurs. Personally, I solidify a culture of development at the properties that I manage. I’m a big believer in giving as much context as possible, and when I meet with members of my team each week, one of my favorite questions to ask is, “What have you learned recently?” When an entire organization is stacked – from top to bottom – in “step up” roles, everyone is learning and there’s the potential for high performance.
How are you making the hospitality profession interesting to new/existing recruits?
The hospitality industry is constantly growing and the need for highly skilled employees is always in demand. Our industry is so popular, so many people want to belong to the hospitality sector. Yes, the shifts can be long and tiring, but you rarely find someone in hospitality who doesn’t have the passion for it (and when/if you do, a serious chat about their career needs to take place)! A career in hospitality is the key to discovering new countries, exciting cultures and new friends. The length of service of our employees at Four Seasons, on different levels, is testament to how exciting it is to be part of the Four Seasons Family. The sense of pride we instill in our employees is what makes the difference between working for a hotel chain or Four Seasons!
What are the qualities you look for in new recruits and what advice can you give would-be candidates?
We hire people who believe in pursuing excellence and who fully embrace the Four Seasons service culture. As the long-term direction of the company is to double in size over the next decade, the opportunities are endless, and Four Seasons is a company that will support its people every step of the way. Our managers are less bosses than mentors and communicators, whose role is to bring out each individual’s best and weld them into a winning team. My advice to future hoteliers: Be yourself because people know what is genuine and appreciate dealing with the real you. Always remember to give back. How? By developing leaders of the future, that will be your legacy. Celebrate failures (yours and others) and learn from them. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
What channels do you use when recruiting?
First we start with internal recruitment; priority is granted to our existing employees. If we don’t find the right candidate for the job vacancy, then we open it to the public with the external recruitment via the Four Seasons jobs website, social networks, universities and other channels of communication.
How can someone looking for a job better promote him/herself to you so as to become more visible?
Personality, achievements, reputation, hard work and attitude.
Do you have any internal educational programs with hospitality schools?
The company has introduced the global MIT program – Manager In Training Program; I am leading this program for the EMEA region, along with our corporate HR manager. We regularly conduct on-campus interviews at world-class hotel schools in Europe to identify top talent interested in joining the Four Seasons family. The Manager in Training program is designed to give participants the tools they need to accelerate their careers and succeed as future leaders. In addition to operational exposure and training, MITs will be exposed to valuable management experiences and project work, allocated a buddy and mentor, and provided with feedback throughout the 18-month program.
What, in the near future, will be some of the most sought-after positions in the market(s) you currently operate for the hospitality industry?
Hospitality positions in general are some of the most sought-after careers in the employment sector. The hospitality sector is demanding and tasking, however, it is easy to see why thousands of people join the industry each year. Many people that join the hospitality industry have a passion and commitment for service. However, a lot more have a flair for creativity, be it as a chef, catering, F&B, hotel manager, GM, director of marketing and other roles….
Do you envision the emergence of any new hospitality positions in the near future that currently do not exist?
The beauty of our business is to expect the unexpected! With the rise of the affluent Millennials, personalized experiences and virtual requirements, along with the remarkable technology initiatives, anything is possible and can be envisioned.
Four Seasons Hotels And Resorts
Regional Vice President & General Manager
To apply online go to
“We are in the people business and the support of people is imperative to one’s success”