Neil Hemraj works as a Front Office Manager at Citylife Hotel Auckland, a position he says was a dream to accept after seven years of hard work.
And that hard work paid off, as earlier this year he received the Hotel Industry Front Office Services Employee of the Year at the 2018 New Zealand Hotel Industry Awards.
Below, an interview with Neil about his career path, and why leaving school doesn’t mean the path to success is closed off.
Q. What qualifications and subjects did you attain at school?
I achieved my high school certificate, and had taken a travel and tourism course during my time at school.
Q. Outline your career path once you left school.
I started working part time while I was still in school in South Africa, and once I left I got a full time receptionist position at 18 years of age. After gaining experience in all departments at the job, I moved to New Zealand in 2009, where I worked as a telephonist, receptionist, and senior receptionist. In 2012 I became a Duty Manager, and finally Front Office Manager in 2015.
Q. What have been the highlights for you?
For many years my goal was to work for CityLife Auckland, but the roles didn’t often come up for my level of experience, so I worked for Heritage Auckland gaining more experience until finally my dream came true. It took my seven years to secure a position with CityLife Auckland.
Now I hold interviews for others also wanting to work at CityLife, so I always try to give interviewees the motivation to keep working toward their goals, even if they are not successful the first time.
Going to Paris to support our CityLife receptionist as the New Zealand finalist for the World Hotel Receptionist of the Year competition, and then seeing her win 2nd runner up in the world was a highlight too.
Having another of our receptionists win the North Island Receptionist of the Year competition was also great – it’s always very rewarding to see talent recognised.
And of course, winning the award for Best Front Office Services Employee of the Year too.
Q. What attracted you to the industry and kept you in it?
I have a passion for bringing a smile to people’s faces. The formal attire and elegant suits drew me in, and the friendships and camaraderie kept me in the industry. Hospitality has a culture which I enjoy.
Q. What are the challenges for young people?
The world is changing and social media is taking over. Promote yourself, but think before you post and remember that whatever goes on social media can be seen and judged by many.
Q. Any advice for a school leaver?
Leaving school does not mean the path to success is closed off to you – hard work and dedication goes a long way. Remain focused, keep your eye on the end goal and there will be no limit to what you can achieve.