An Interview with Catherine Racsko
We were delighted to interview Catherine Racsko, the General Manager of Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel and Spa, who recently became a finalist for General Manager of the Year 2017 – Asia. Read about her journey growing up in a hotel environment with her family.
My love for the hotel industry began at a young age as I grew up in a family run Ski Lodge in Thredbo, Australia. I have treasured these special memories of my time living in the hotel and carried them on throughout my career. Even as a young girl, my parents could see I was passionate about the industry and would often encourage my sister and I to lend a helping hand around the hotel, from serving breakfast, to cleaning and organising the rooms. Sunday was my favourite day, as this was when new guests would arrive for their stay. I would enjoy greeting them as they gathered in the lounge to mingle, before tucking into some homemade Gluehwein that my Father would prepare. This created a warm atmosphere, a sense of belonging and a feeling of home. I really loved meeting new people, so I guess my passion and love of hotels stemmed from this distinct memory, as ever since then, hospitality has always been in my blood.
After school I studied Tourism in Canberra, where I was fortunate to work part time in banqueting and eventually became a team leader at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra. After graduating I studied in Montreux, Switzerland for one year before moving to London to work. This gave me a great foundation to continue my career in Australia and overseas.
For anyone to succeed we need to have a broad understanding, hence why I believe my success derived from gaining experience working in various departments and different areas of the industry, such as theme parks and race courses. It is also important and valuable to have a mentor that challenges you. Although I did not see it at the time, I was fortunate to have had Mr Bipan Kapur as my mentor in Malaysia. Mr Kapur was the General Manager at the Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort and he saw the potential in me and pushed me to not only reach but exceed my capabilities. Taking on the role of Director of Sales and Marketing he believed in me and pushed me to be the main connection between Sales and Operations ensuring the success of the hotel. Through this I was also given the opportunity to be involved in the renovation process when we upgraded the rooms. As a result of his support I learnt that in order to grow people you need to have a balance between encouragement and tough love.
Business is changing, however, we are in an industry that should continue to lead with our hearts, this can never be achieved through technology. As a finalist of the Hotelier Awards 2017, I will continue to instil in the upcoming generation the importance of looking after not only our guests but our associates, as they are the life and soul of our industry.