Dottie Wurgler-Cronin from Marco Polo Davao returns this year after becoming a General Manager Finalist for the second time running. Read on to find out what it was that sparked her initial interest in the hospitality industry at a young age of nine.
“To be a successful hotelier one has to love being one!”
I was born in Dapitan City, Zamboanga Del Norte, which is also known as ‘The Shrine City of the Philippines’. I come from a fairly large family and I am in fact the youngest of thirteen children, ten of which are girls. My maiden name is “Viajar” and funnily enough it actually means ‘to travel’, it was a name given due to my father working in the Military, which led our family to move from place to place and travel around the Philippines. Until the age of twelve, I had the privilege of growing up in a small town, where almost all of my neighbours were relatives. It was the place where my maternal relations had lived and served in government, contributing to the growth of the town of Mainit, Surigao Del Norte.
My parents wanted us to have a better education, therefore they moved us to the city of Cebu, where I completed my Secondary education. I always wanted to venture out and explore a different environment so I decided to attend a Catholic all-girls college, St. Scholastica’s College in Manila. Once I turned eighteen, I was given the opportunity to travel outside of the country, which opened my eyes to what capitalism means in a society and how it influences people to work hard and succeed. I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Hotel and Restaurant Management (BA HRM) and studied a Service and Sales Course at the Hotel School, Les Roches.
I was very interested in Food & Beverage and enjoyed learning the details and dynamics of this discipline, however, my very role was an Executive Housekeeper for a 50 room deluxe resort at the mere age of 23. This was my first exposure to the Rooms Division and eventually I was moved to the Front Office as a supervisor concurrent to my role as the Housekeeper. After gaining my initial experience in F&B, I worked my way up to become a Director of Operations, which led me onto new industries and paths. My career journey was directed back to hospitality where I began managing a hotel resort before joining Marco Polo Hotels.
I believe that my interest in hospitality sparked when I was nine and my elder sister kindly invited me to dine with her at a fine dining restaurant. I was completely fascinated with the refined service we received and the array of silvers on display that were puzzling yet somewhat intriguing. However, I believe it was at home when I learned the deeper sense of hospitality. The desire to please others, make guests happy and feel comfortable was instilled by our parents to my siblings and I. We were taught to offer the best we have, to bring out the finest china, put on our best clothes and buy the freshest flowers to welcome guests who were those from all walks of life!
The most valuable part of my career development is the experience and opportunity to work with great hoteliers, my superiors or bosses. They were mentors and were generous with their time and knowledge, yet firm when it came to discipline and maximising my potentials to become a better hotelier.
One of the outstanding hoteliers and mentors who has been a significant influence in my career is Karl Hudson, Area VP- Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, & Myanmar, Marriott International. He was my General Manager in Cebu Marriott Hotel when I was a Director of Food and Beverage. Karl is a transformational leader, he was the strongest pillar in times of challenges and empowered me to expand my wings and take on new roles. Through him I learned to “choose the battles” to “win the war”.
The countless experiences and encounters with different types of people at work, whether they were colleagues or guests – inspired me to embrace a new chapter as I journeyed through to where I am now.
I worked for over a month as an Assistant Manager in the Front Office but my desire to pursue a career in F&B began to affect the way I was performing in my current role, so I knew I needed to change. I plucked up the courage to meet with our Executive Director/ Owner’s Rep to explain how I was feeling. He made it quite clear that there was no available position for me in F&B but I pleaded for him to give me any position as long as it is in F&B.
From then, I knew this was the right industry for me as I was prepared to do what it would take to learn and grow in hospitality, to serve my co-employees and guests with no reservation, to take a bold step to make a change and create a difference.
My team nominated me. The Hotelier Awards Asia is a very prestigious award and when I found out that I am one of the finalists, my feelings and thoughts were a sense of gratitude towards my team for their continued trust and belief in me. I am truly humbled to be recognised for the second time as one of the finalists selected from a group of great General Managers in our industry. I am proud of this recognition as a finalist; it is an achievement I share with my team and my co-associates.
This serves as an inspiration, and it is an affirmation that we are indeed true hoteliers.
Leading them by example, which is crucial to the development of the younger generation of hoteliers during their formative years. We have many young professionals in our team and providing them guidance and encouragement on a regular basis is important.
I impart and inspire the young generations to work harder and focus on their goals and by providing them a work environment, which could inspire them to be creative and engage in challenging projects without fear of failure.
I have had a number of opportunities to speak at different colleges and universities that teach a Hotel and Tourism Management course. This is something that I really enjoy as I feel that I am inspiring them through my personal experience as a hotelier. I am a Board of Director in our Davao Tourism Association (DATA), and one of our projects which I am involved in is our DATA Academy, an initiative offering trainings and seminars to young hoteliers.
It is important to emphasise to the younger generations that there is no “short cut” to success. There is no success if there are no failures. Failures are just setbacks and does not define one’s future.
To be a successful hotelier one has to love being one!