Bellboy to General Manager – How Long Is The Road?
Where do GM's come from? How do they start? How long is the road from entry-level position to a leather chair of GM's office? We took a look at a number of professionals from around the world to come to a series of interesting observations.
We took a look at Hotel General Managers across the world, to determine how long it took them to get to their current position. We sliced and diced the data on 60 people from various countries and backgrounds to answer this question – How long is the road? How much time does it usually take from the moment when a young person walks into the door as a receptionist or a bellboy to the moment they land their first seat in the big leather chair of a GM’s office, guarded by a dedicated personal assistant?
Table 1 reflects the length of time it takes a person to get from an entry-level position to a General Manager role in various parts of the world. Interestingly, the shortest time it takes is in North America (only 14.75 years on average), and the longest is in Asia (16.5 years). Europe is in the middle at about 15.8 years.
This could be contributed to the differing values placed on climbing the career ladder in various cultures, or to the average age at which people retire (thus creating opportunities for the younger colleagues to be promoted), or to the size of the industry which translates into the number of opportunities available to upcoming professionals.
We also found that the area of specialization made a difference in how fast the person rose to the top ranks of management. The data on all professionals we studied was split into 4 common categories – Administrative Personnel, Food and Beverage Division, Rooms Division and Management Trainees. Although not an exhaustive list, it covers 97% of all GMs included in the survey.
Some of the examples of entry-level Administrative positions were Accountants and Night Managers. In F&B, young professionals often started as busboys, waiters, stewards, cooks, assistants F&B managers. Typical entry-level Rooms Division positions included: receptionists, PBX operators, bellboys, Assistant Front Office managers.
Unsurprisingly, it took the shortest time – 14.8 years - for people who started as Management Trainees (across all cultures) to get to the General Manager job. These are usually top graduates from Hotel programs, handpicked by hotel companies. They are invited to be nursed through all various departments in order to be seasoned as General Managers in the shortest possible time. People who came up through Rooms Division followed the Management Trainees (at 15.3 years).
For those trying to select the job that leads to the General Manager position not by the fastest, but by the most assured road, Table 3 offers the set of data on the make-up of the General Manager population we studied categorised by where they started.
A clear majority of General Managers around the world (40%) started their careers in F&B in entry-level positions. Interestingly enough, this is very characteristic for Europe, where the number reached 55%! At the same time, in the US it’s Rooms Division, and in Asia it is an almost even split between the top 3 most popular areas.
Although jobs in the Hotel industry vary in popularity around the world, the General Manager position is one of respect and financial satisfaction. Taking one’s time to climb up the ladder from the entry-level job as a waiter or bellboy has its’ hardships as well as rewards. It also doesn’t have to be the end goal, but rather just another step on the ladder of one’s career success. Many CEOs and COOs are made from former General Managers.
Forward any questions or comments to Tatiana Veller, Managing Director – Russia for HVS Executive Search, at email@example.com or at phone numbers +7 (495) 660-3653 and +7 (909) 642-0313.
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Leora Halpern Lanz
HVS Marketing Communications