Name: Sharon Ay
General Manager since: 2011
Current hotel: TUI Blue Grand Azur
Number of employees: 260
My way to become a GM: I started as an overseas tour operator representative and worked my way up to area manager level for First Choice Holidays. So I made a move from a tour operator background, which is service and sales focused, to the operations management department of a large Turkish Hotel Group. My responsibilities were mainly to liaise between the tour operator and the hotel group, but I quickly started getting involved in the day-to-day operations of running a hotel. I moved from hotel operations to my first hotel as GM after 4 years.
The best part of my job is: Developing and building the hotel team. I am very passionate about getting the right people in the right places and ensuring they are clear what’s expected of them and ensuring they have the tools to do the job. Effective communication and trying to ensure the team know what a work-life balance means is key.
My biggest challenge in my job so far: In the early days, being accepted as female in a position of authority and working within a predominantly male environment. Very quickly I learnt the best way to communicate individually with everyone. A smile and gentle coaching goes a long way.
My advice to future GMs: Work harder than anyone else, be fair, be kind and inclusive. Take time to get to know everyone in the hotel as well as suppliers connected with your business. Be approachable and willing to listen, never be afraid to say you don’t know or understand things, ask for things to be explained so you can learn from your team as well. It goes a long way and earns respect.