Hi Aisling, to start with, can you tell us about your journey in hospitality?
After graduating from Shannon College of Hotel Management in 2018, I moved to London to join the team at Rosewood London on their Management in Training Program. For the better part of the two and a half years I spent at Rosewood, I was the Reservations Supervisor which gave me the opportunity to learn about the ‘business side’ of the operation and also develop my selling skills, which essentially led me to where I am today. I’ve always been a people person and love in-person communication so learning how to sell and somehow providing a memorable and 5* service over the phone was a skill that took time to perfect, but I had the best team to show me the ropes. Fast forward a few years later, I hopped over to Piccadilly and joined the team at the Ham Yard Hotel where I was the Reservations Manager. It was another great opportunity and I adore the hotel but after speaking to guests over a phone for years at this point, I really missed the face-to-face communication. I knew for a while I wanted to make the jump into sales but I am the type of person that will not apply to or accept just any role. I have to feel proud of where I am working and the minute I met with the team at The Athenaeum, I knew this was where I wanted to be and who I wanted to work with! So in 2020 I joined The Athenaeum as the Sales Manager. It’s been nearly 2 years since joining the team, and it’s been such a journey (the pandemic playing a big part in that!). I spent the first five months learning my role over Zoom as we were in lockdown, but that allowed for a lot of training time without distractions.
Who would you say is your female role model?
I can’t think of just one! There are several women who inspire and motivate me in some way or another – some of whom I know personally and others I have grown up admiring from afar. Whilst they’re both younger than me, I’m in constant awe of my sisters who I truly think are two of the best people on the planet, along with my mum. I’ve looked up to Julie Andrews since I was a little girl as I think she’s the perfect example of a ‘class act’. I aspire to have the level of strength and courage that the activist Chanel Miller has. And if I could somehow motivate people the way that my SoulCycle instructor Liv motivates me during a 7am workout, I would feel incredibly powerful!
What advice would you share with women who are at the start of their hospitality careers and aspire to reach a senior position?
There are a few pieces of advice I’ve held onto over the years that have definitely helped me get to where I am today. One being, there’s never going to be the precise right moment to speak, share an idea, or take a chance. Don’t let thoughts like “I don’t feel like I’m ready” get in the way. Look to see if you have the main attributes and skills, or the opportunity will pass you by. Coincidentally that is the piece of advice I was given when I was applying for the position I’m in today!
What would you say has inspired you to get where you are today?
In terms of work, I saw the hospitality industry as something that could take me anywhere in the world, which is a motivator in itself as I love to travel. It’s an industry that is ever growing, ever changing, and will always have a place in our culture and society which I really wanted to be a part of. I knew the diversity of each day would be something that would keep me driven and inspired. Every day we have the chance to turn moments into memories for our guests and I love being a part of that.
What words of wisdom did female relatives share with you when growing up?
There are a few that come to mind. Growing up my mum always encouraged me to push outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself. She also instilled in me from a young age to always use the talents that I have and to do what I love and what makes me happy. I can truthfully say I use these pieces of wisdom every day.
What do you enjoy about your job?
So many things! I love that each day is completely different from the last, and every day brings a new challenge and opportunity to learn. I consider myself lucky to be a part of this team. The saying “one team, one dream” is very much how we operate at The Athenaeum. Especially during COVID-19, everyone was helping out in other departments and supporting wherever was needed without hesitation. Being part of a team where everyone is driven towards a common goal is incredibly rare but very rewarding.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
As it wasn’t that long ago since I was twenty, I would probably say to my younger self the same thing that I would say to myself today – trust your gut, know your own strengths, and don’t base your worth on someone else. You’re not supposed to have it all figured out right now.