Working Hospitably: By Erin Annis, Recruitment Consultant

What led you to the hospitality career path?


I remember being in 9th grade, sitting with my Dad at a downtown restaurant that had new ownership and had changed drastically since the last time we’d been there.  The topic of hospitality came up…and that there actually was a degree in the field of hospitality management!  

I thought that was such an intriguing and unique concept.  On family vacations, the hotel was always my ‘happy place’.  So, contributing to someone else’s experience of such joy – combined with the opportunity for travel – seemed the most rewarding career choice that I could imagine!  

So, I studied Hospitality Management at the University of Guelph.  During my co-op placement, I landed an amazing opportunity in Human Resources with one of the Starwood Hotels. That experience doubly confirmed that this was definitely the path I wanted to follow.  My co-op teacher visited me at my placement and said something along the lines of “Wow, I have never seen someone so happy to be at work!”  She even decided to feature me in an article in our high school newsletter (a mini-work story, if you will!)

More specifically, what led you to hospitality recruitment?

The University of Guelph does an amazing job of highlighting how widespread the hospitality industry really is.  Courses range from Hotels to Restaurants to Airlines to Casinos to Property Management   – Hospitality is a multi-faceted industry!  I’ve always considered myself a "people person” as well, so the appeal of Human Resources was always there. Combining my passion for both Hospitality and Human Resources was the best of both worlds for me.  After graduating from Guelph, I knew I would come to a fork-in-the-road situation, since Corporate Recruitment roles, as with many roles, are extremely competitive.  I knew that I would have to take a few career steps before landing a role like that.  I could go either the Operations route in the hotel sector – and work my way up through the Front Desk ranks ­ – or I could get my foot in the door with recruitment in general.  

After graduation, I landed a Recruitment Internship with a recruitment company focusing on the legal sector.  Definitely not where I envisioned I’d be, but it played a major part in my career growth.  I took a leap out of my comfort zone into an environment where two great supervisors took me under their wings and showed me the recruitment ropes in an agency setting. Agency recruitment is closely linked to sales (as opposed to HR) and it involves  lots of prospecting and cold calling.  So this choice was especially surprising, since anyone who knew me growing up knows that I was the shyest kid ever!   However, I truly think that being in the hospitality industry and working in it since high school ­ – everything from McDonald’s to serving to working as a Reservation Agent ­ – has helped bring me out of my shell and improved my ability to think on my feet. 

For over a year now, I have been working as a Recruiter at Global Hospitality Inc, a hospitality recruitment company.  Every day is different…thinking on my feet, being personable, and understanding in-depth what motivate others.  These are all musts! 

Most rewarding parts of the job?  

There are several rewarding aspects of my job. What stands out to me is its variety and unconventionality – being exposed to the full spectrum of hospitality, working on roles ranging from Line Cook to CEO, and for a wide range of respected companies across North America! 

One of the accomplishments I’m very proud of is getting to work on a search for a high-profile restaurant opening before it was released to the public, and placing the General Manager there. I never thought at the age of 22 I’d be able to say that I’ve done that. 

Another would be the overall feeling that comes with any successful placement, when you know you have made a great match for the candidate and the client.  There are a lot of moving parts that go into a successful  placement  – after all, these are peoples’ careers we are dealing with and things are never taken lightly.  It is always great when you hear that your candidate is happy as the job goes on.  I've received lovely thank-you notes and Christmas cards and I keep them on the desk to remind myself of my accomplishments.

Biggest job challenge?

When I began recruiting and was working on more junior early-career roles, I thought I would have a way easier time connecting with those younger candidates since I’m younger myself.  What I quickly realized was pretty blatantly clear – there are a lot of older people who are currently employed who still have no idea what they want to do! There is nothing wrong with that whatsoever.  However, when you are a recruiter representing a candidate who cannot commit to an interview or the idea of a new job, it can b e challenging.  This has made me greatly value transparency and clear communication at work  ­– and this  carries over to everyday life as well. 

Best advice to anyone entering the workforce?

How I got my first “real” job out of university was by proactively reaching out to companies that I wanted to work for.  After completing my internship, I knew  that I wanted my permanent full-time role to be a step into hospitality.  So, I reached out to a few hospitality-specific recruitment companies and landed this role!  That was purely from conducting my own research on what’s out there, then connecting and expressing interest.  

Advice to anyone starting out in the workforce …?

  • Make a list of some places you’ve always wanted to work.  
  • Do a search of companies that fall into a similar realm – and send an email expressing your interest in working there!  Whether there is a job opening or not, they will know your name and most likely remember you when a suitable opening does come up.  
  • Do anything you can to expand your network.  Research companies, attend events, even just talking to people in your own network about your career goals could lead somewhere

It never hurts to be proactive!


Food for thought: How my co-op at a local eatery led to multimillion-dollar success

By Katherine Murphy, General Manager, Nourish Kitchen & Café,  BCom ‘13

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     Katherine Murphy (left) and Hayley Rosenberg with a signature dish, “CultivateSharing,” made up of local harvest produce, cultured cashew cheese, beet pâté, herb pesto, buckwheat seed bread and house crackers. Delicious! 

Katherine Murphy (left) and Hayley Rosenberg with a signature dish, “CultivateSharing,” made up of local harvest produce, cultured cashew cheese, beet pâté, herb pesto, buckwheat seed bread and house crackers. Delicious! 

When I was first looking for my original co-op job before entering the BCom program at the University of Victoria, I was searching for a restaurant placement, with the idea of finding a business that was small and still in the start-up phase. My secret vision was to help grow the business as well as become involved in the creation of food culture in Victoria. Food has always been the cornerstone of my family and the main way we created connections, taught values and fostered a family environment.

 During that time, by sheer serendipity I met Hayley Rosenberg, the owner of Nourish. Nourish was located at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific in Saanich, had seven tables, casual counter service and a four-burner electric range.  It had been open eight months. With values that echoed my own, Nourish was involved in the local community, harvested some of the vegetables grown on site at the garden centre and was very much in the start-up phase. It was a perfect fit!

Launched with no capital investment, growing Nourish as a business has taken creativity, problem solving and a huge amount of determination every step of the way. From day one I was invited to be part of that growth. My first eight months were intensive and full time.

I began my first semester at Gustavson after those eight months and I remember looking around my class and wondering if anyone else knew just how relevant the course content was. I know for a fact that without my prior involvement in Nourish I would not have taken nearly as much value from my courses. 

Over the winter break, Hayley and I spent each day working our way through the marketing plan, a class assignment I had been given by Professor David Boag. We literally wrote the first official draft of the business plan based on that outline. The business plan allowed us to formulate our vision enough to re-open the following spring with the concept for the restaurant that Nourish has now become.

We now have two bustling locations, one in downtown Victoria and one still situated at the Horticulture Centre in Saanich. The Garden restaurant still has a four-burner stove, but has grown to 50 seats, offers full service,  and regularly sees 150 guests for Sunday brunch. Our inner harbour location sits in a beautiful three-story heritage home where we hope to host workshops and conferences, as well as fill our open and airy dining room with happy people. We have 35 employees between the two locations and I have been fortunate enough to grow with this ever-changing and exceptional business. (If you haven’t heard of us, visit Nourish visit  to get a sense of just how far we’ve come.)

At 25, I find myself the general manager of a multimillion-dollar small local business. Throughout my time at Gustavson, the single most valuable part of my education was the hands-on experience that I gained through my co-ops. There is no doubt in my mind that if I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to be a part of this business from the beginning I would be in a very different stage of life now. 

This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in Business Class Magazine, a publication of the Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria.    Photo Credit: UVic Photo Services.

Plans Change, Opportunities Arise: Kerstin’s Story

Facilitated by Devin Gordon, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

My name is Kerstin Newman and I am 27 years old. I am German and spent the first 22 years of my life in Germany. Growing up, I always wanted a job where I could help people…in what way, I didn’t really care at the time. I used to envy people who knew exactly what they wanted to become and what they had to do to get there as I never had any specific plans. I was never confident in my abilities and didn’t know what career I wanted to pursue. I just knew I wanted to work with people my age or kids. So after graduating high school, I went to university to study German and English in the teaching program for German high schools (Grades 5-12).

During those university years, I went on an exchange and spent a year at the University of Waterloo, in Canada, where I completed my Master’s degree in German Studies. While everybody thought it was kind of strange that I left Germany to do an M.A. in German Studies in an English speaking country, I loved the experience of living in a different country, speaking English on a regular basis, but still studying German on the same level I would have back home.

I went back to Germany for 2 years after the exchange and completed my teaching degree at the University of Mannheim.  I knew at the time that I wanted to come back to Canada, especially since I had met my now husband (he is Canadian) in the German program at Waterloo. I knew the teaching job situation in Ontario was not great.  Also, the schools would not recognize my German teaching degree but would make me go back to teacher’s college, so I decided to switch careers while I was still in Germany. I did an internship at a John Deere facility in Mannheim, in the HR department for training and development. While the job was challenging at times (I had not really worked in office environments before), I loved what I did there, being exposed to people from all over the world, working with different people on different projects, being creative in scheduling, training or making materials available for people. My boss at the time was very supportive and connected me with the John Deere office in Brantford, Ontario, to see if they potentially had room for me. Since the office deals with all the finances, this didn’t work out, but the support of my boss encouraged me to pursue a career where I could do similar things to what I did at John Deere.

I decided to go to Fanshawe College for International Business Management to have better chances of finding a job with an international business. The program was only 8 months long and a post-graduate degree. While I was still a student at Fanshawe, they held a job fair in February and I talked to some people that represented businesses in London. One of the people I talked to ended up hiring me as a bilingual customer service advisor for after my graduation in April 2014. I started working in July 2014 and after completing the job training, I answered phones, chats, and emails for German and English speaking customers.

While customer service was never on my radar, I actually really enjoyed working with the team to help customers, talking to tons of different people all day, and learning new things every day. In April 2015, I was promoted to the role of team lead, meaning that I now am part of the leadership team for the customer service department. While I still talk to customers occasionally, I am now more involved in the operational reports, coaching people, and several projects designed to improve systems and processes.

My typical day is hard to describe as there are never two days that are the same. My main responsibility is to do some reporting on the teams’ performance the previous day in the morning, and then just be available for whatever questions the customer service advisors may have throughout the day. These might be process related, content questions, or system related, so most of the time, I function as a subject matter expert on anything regarding customer service. I approve one-off exceptions we might make for customers, I help advisors help customers in the best way possible, I try to help advisors succeed in their roles, and I am a point of contact for other departments that might have questions about customer service.

I love that every day is different. I love working with the people on the team.  I love being able to help people (the advisors and other departments within the company, and customers that buy our products). I love the challenges I encounter every day (figuring out an Excel formula, pulling meaningful statistics out of a mess of data, talking to people about odd customer situations that we need to figure out, etc.). I love being involved in cross-functional projects that will eventually help our customers have a better experience dealing with as a company. I love the support and encouragement I get from my colleagues and superiors, and I love the company in general for its culture and work environment.

While this is not at all the career (or the life – for that matter) that I ever thought I would have, I really enjoy working and living in Canada. When I was starting university at the age of 19, I was sure I would be a teacher for German and English at a high school somewhere in Germany by the age of 25. Instead, I am the team lead of a customer service team at a tech company in Canada at 27. Plans change and opportunities will come up that we never thought we would consider. I am absolutely happy with my career so far and I am sure there will be more planned and unplanned changes in the future.  I have learned to embrace change and unforeseen circumstances and to make the best of any situation not only in regards to my work life, but also as it relates to my personal life. 

A Designated Lobster Buyer: Holly’s Cold (But Cool!) Story

"How cold?"
“Like three pair of pants, four sweaters and a winter jacket kind of cold,” said a smiling Holly Faulkner, who had just unloaded her first lobster boat of the day early Monday afternoon.    

One of a handful of designated lobster buyers here at Big Bras d’Or’s Factory Wharf, the 22-year-old has faced the elements head-on since lobster fishing season opened here in mid-May. 

Her job description includes hauling a few thousand pounds of lobster, six days a week. She has not missed a day of work.

About a year ago, after graduating from with a degree hospitality and tourism management from Cape Breton University Holly began a job many of us know little about.  Andrew Rankin shares more of her story here


Healing Waters

by Carol Crenna

Chelsea Kanstrup (BCom ’12) is in for the long haul. Three years ago, Kanstrup started with the privately -funded charity Mercy Ships as a cooperative student. After graduating, her dedication and passion were recognised and she was hired as director of Donor Relations.  

In fact, working in non-profit management was one of her goals when choosing UVic’s BCom program. Business Class caught up with Kanstrup to find out about Mercy Ships and why she decided to embark on the voyage.

What Does This Organization Do?

Mercy Ships is a privately-funded charity that sends hospital ships with medical teams to impoverished countries to provide free medical care, physician training, and community support. It has 16 global offices including Mercy Ships Canada, based in Victoria. Its Africa Mercy is the world’s largest charity hospital ship, staffed by 1,600 volunteers from around the world.  

How Has It Made a Difference?

In existence for 35 years, Mercy Ships has treated 572,000 patients in 54 countries, conducted 67,000 surgeries, delivered services to over 2.42 million, valued at over $1 billion. It serves people free-of-charge without regard for race or religion.

Why Was It Launched?

Mercy Ships was started by an American Christian group to serve the estimated one billion people who lack basic healthcare, particularly in Africa, where 50 percent of the population has no access to a doctor. The organization deemed that a ship is the most efficient platform to deliver a state-of-the-art hospital because 75 per cent of the world’s population lives within 150 kilometres of a port city.

What Results Have You Seen?

When in Congo, I saw a blind mother being led by her young daughter to the ship to have cataract surgery. After surgery, she regained her sight, which resulted in her daughter attending school, no longer having to care for her mother, and her mother getting a job to support the family and become a better community member.

I witnessed one-on-one training. In Congo, a doctor from Togo came for cataract surgery training. Before the instruction, it took him 20 minutes to do each surgery; he performed 400 surgeries per year (in 2010). After training, he could complete the procedure in 10 minutes, and this year he performed 2,000 cataract surgeries. He now voluntarily teaches other surgeons.

What Are You Working On?

My third-party fundraising work includes bake sales, discount coupon books, and collaborating with restaurants that donate money from a menu item purchased — small outlets that have added up to substantial funding over time. We also organize campus networks at 11 universities across Canada with hundreds of student volunteers.

Africa Mercy is heading to Cotonou, Benin, where volunteers plan to do over 2,300 surgeries, treat 18,000 at dental and eye clinics, and train 160 Beninois healthcare professionals.

Why Is Philanthropy Important?

It was instilled in me not to take for granted that I was born a woman within a supportive family within a supportive community within a supportive country. It’s not just right to be philanthropic and help others; it makes you feel good.

What appeals to you about working for Mercy Ships?

I love Mercy Ship’s mission; helping so many individuals in need through surgeries is amazing, yet educating individuals increases the capacity of our efforts, and works to stop the need itself. 

This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in Business Class Magazine, a publication of the Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria.    

Beer. Do we have your attention?

Ever considered being a brewmaster?   

"The recent opening of a new Halifax brew pub has given Karen Allen the chance to come home, be near her family and friends, and also make beer for a living.  It sounds like a sweet gig and she admits it.”It’s pretty awesome, yeah,”…

More on Karen’s brewmaster story…


Driving Ambition: Zach’s Golf Story

As told to Brandon Pedersen, WorkStory Ambassador      

Hi. My name is Zach Giusti. Let me begin by giving you a laydown on my personal interests. Since I was young, I always had a profound interest in both sports and money. Working for a local golf course, I quickly became interested in the game that I saw being played on a daily basis. To top it off, I also learned that professional golfers make quite the pay check. Although I began playing the game at age 6, my interest and love for it grew when I worked at the golf course. This led me to become the captain of my high school golf team, and I was awarded MVP in my senior year. Despite my love for the game, I knew the difficulties associated with becoming a professional at arguably the world’s most frustrating sport! That’s when I decided to apply to university.

I attended Wilfrid Laurier University, where I earned an honours degree in business with a marketing specialization. By the time I approached my fourth year, I realized it was time to start thinking about my future. I applied to numerous sales and marketing jobs and decided to write the LSAT during my last year. What would be better than wearing fancy clothes, driving an exotic car, and obviously, making a lot of money? But, despite my time management skills, I wasn’t able to succeed on the LSAT because of a number of other things going on in my life at the time – namely job applications, midterms, social life, etc. 

Luckily, I received multiple interviews from the sales and marketing companies I had applied to. After several interviews with the manager, I was hired by a billion dollar Paint Company to become a part of their Management Training Program. Eventually, after a few months of training, I was awarded the title of Branch Operations Manager. After about a year of commuting and working in my new position, I was becoming tired and unhappy with my choices. I decided this was not the path I wanted to be on the rest of my life. I wanted to work hard at something I loved.

This is when golf came back into my life. I have always been skilled at sports, in particular, golf. So why not become a pro? Easier said than done. I began by getting a full assessment by one of the top golf coaches in North America, and he told me that I had plenty of potential and that I should explore that potential while I still had the opportunity to (I am still young enough where I have a small window of opportunity to make it happen).

So here I am now, pursuing my dream. This past summer, I played in many professional tournaments on what is known as The Great Lakes Tour. However, playing in tournaments is only part of the process.

So yes, my days now are not spent doing “traditional” work. Waking up early, eating a big breakfast and then heading to the course where I will either practice for 6 hours, or practice a little and then play a round. Golf is a game where there is much more than meets the eye. Practice for me includes: stretching (often overlooked), hitting 1000+ golf balls at the range daily, and playing in as many tournaments as possible. Furthermore, the mental aspect of golf has been the toughest to overcome. Yes, I can shoot a very good practice round, but being able to imitate that in a tournament round is the toughest part. Long days, lots of practice, focus and dedication are what it takes to make it to the next level.

My goals are to be on the Canadian Professional Tour within 2 years and to play in events by 2017/2018. With my attitude and mindset, I believe I can do this.

So you might be thinking, “this isn’t your traditional work story.” But here’s the thing. I dropped everything, including a well-paid full time job in order to pursue something I love to do. And I don’t regret it one bit. In fact, I have never been happier – I love waking up early and working on something that I know I can be great at.

Nobody should tell you what you can and cannot do. The craziest thing is the support or lack of support I have received. Many people whom I thought would support me are telling me I’m crazy for doing this, it’s a waste of time, money and my degree. Others, whom I thought would not care one bit, have been extremely motivating in encouraging me to pursue my dream.

So there you have it. Whether you want to be a lawyer, doctor, athlete, astronaut – whatever – make sure you love what you do, because if you don’t, you will only have yourself to blame.

Capturing Moments of Beauty

By Vanessa Grillone, WorkStory Contributor

Two cousins who didn’t have a lot in common sat together at a family function. Magically, a deep conversation began where they discussed their wildest dreams and greatest ambitions. By the end of the evening they promised each other that they WOULD reach their goals. Amy Miranda, my cousin, kept her promise. She is currently a Photographer and Assistant Manager at a high-end studio where she shoots everything from children and families to pets and fashion. Besides her studio work she has done small events, landscapes, and fashion shoots for promotional use.

Amy realized her love for capturing moments on film when she received her first camera as a present. She took pictures of everything, however at that time it was still film so she was limited. Years later her dad purchased a digital camera and she remembers being the only one to use it and being overjoyed by the freedom of taking as many pictures as she could fit on a memory card.

With her passion for photography peeking it’s head, Amy took a photography class in high school and loved it. She enjoyed learning about the history of photography and how it evolved to the craft it is today. With her interest heightened Amy, decided to go to Sheridan College for their two-year photography program, where she received a diploma. “It was an amazing program, very hands-on and very detailed. We had classes everyday and when we weren’t in class we were doing assignments in the studio or in the lab. My favourite class would have to be portraiture. I love interacting with people, making them feel comfortable and using my skill, creativity, and knowledge of lighting to capture their beauty in one photograph. The thing that I love the most about photography is making people feel good. Especially women, we are so hard on ourselves and never feel beautiful enough. To see women look at their photos and realize how beautiful they actually are and then watch them walk off with more confidence than they had walking in with is definitely a rewarding part of the job.” After receiving her diploma, Amy travelled to Argentina, taking photos and emerging herself in a different culture. Upon return, she went after her dream in full force, applying to various jobs and eventually landing at the studio she currently works.

Amy’s passion for photos gets her through her day, which she ensures is never a dull moment. Eventually she hopes to have her own studio and be her own boss. But Amy is focussed on the now, she is a firm believer in living in the moment and to enjoying life. She believes in doing what you love and paying attention to all of the beauty that life has to offer. Her advice for aspiring photographers is simple: “Don’t ever give up, push forward, and be as creative as you can. Be different. Try new things, take criticism, and always improve. People will always think that they can do what you do and that being a photographer consists of having an expensive camera, prove them wrong. Prove to them that it’s so much more than that!”