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When working at a hotel, resort or restaurant, people often think that the holy grail of positions is a position in the corporate office. The following pointers will help you assess the plusses and minuses of a corporate position, and suggest some strategies to maximize the experience and minimize the risks.

These recommendations are based on my career where I spent approximately 2/3 of my time on property and 1/3 in the corporate world. I was first promoted to a corporate position as a director of rooms for Rosewood, when I was 32 years old, my two most recent positions have as COO.

My general observations are that:

1. Corporate staff are more successful if they influence, rather than direct.
2. Your skills, character, and approach are now scrutinized under a dozen microscopes, rather than one.
3. Your diplomacy skills will be tested as you are called to bridge gaps between your company and owners.
4. Frequent travel is not fun (I have flown over 4 million air miles to prove it.)
5. Financial skills and an MBA are essential today for a senior corporate position.
6. You will miss the camaraderie of working as part of an operations team.
7. You will see your corporate colleagues infrequently as they will also be traveling.

As with any position there are benefits and challenges. The overriding question is whether a corporate position is right for you, your family and career. The following short list of questions should help you answer the overriding question for yourself.

1. Why do I want a corporate position?

a) Career move to have multi-unit responsibility.
b) I need a new challenge.
c) I want to earn a bigger salary.
d) My family would like to have me home during the evenings, weekends and holidays.

Reality check:

a) Corporate positions will provide the multi-unit responsibility. There is no doubt that you will gain more problem solving experience since you will be working primarily with the properties that need the most help.
b) This should only be the case if you have been at the same property in the same position for over 3 years. However, there are always more challenges and opportunities on property as well.
c) Unless your title starts with “Chief”, corporate salaries are usually similar to on-property salaries.
d) My family saw me far less in my corporate role than when I was on property, due to the travel required.

2. How will a corporate position affect my career?

a) The corporate position will be a permanent move away from operations.
b) The corporate position is a stepping stone for a future promotion back into operations.
c) I need to improve my network in the corporate office to move ahead more quickly.

3. How will a corporate position affect me personally?

a) I am looking forward to a more regular schedule.
b) I will enjoy being away from my home base 60%+ of the time.
c) I will miss working in a team environment.

Decision time

Answering these questions should help you formulate and decide the path for you to follow.

In conclusion, working in a corporate position is very rewarding and can enhance your career prospects, but there is a high personal price to pay. One way to have the best of both worlds is to set a time limit on your corporate assignment, ideally 2-3 years, so that you can experience a corporate position thereby increasing your skills, and exposure to company leadership.

Please share your thoughts and experiences on corporate positions.

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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