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Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and are drawn to commerce, trade and making deals. Some pursue sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or in management roles in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.

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Lisa Curry, Catering Sales Executive
Tourism & Hospitality

Lisa Curry, Catering Sales Executive

Lisa Curry works as a Catering Sales Executive for the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Powerscourt, Co Wicklow. She is part of the Sales and Marketing team which is responsible for generating top line revenue for the hotel. Having completed her Leaving Certificate in Sion Hill in Blackrock she went on to do a BSc in Hospitality Management in Cahal Brugha Street.

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What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?

At the age of 16 I took a part time job in my local pub and worked there for 8 years (through school and college). It was during this time that I decided the hospitality industry was for me.

In transition year in school, I did my work placement in the events and accounts department of the Burlington Hotel and this further confirmed my future. I then went on to study BSc Hospitality Management in DIT Cathal Brugha Street. For my internship in third year I went to work in a boutique hotel in Edinburgh. I spent 6 months working in their fine dining restaurant and cocktail bar. It was at this point that I decided I would prefer a career in sales.

Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?

Both family and friends have always encouraged me to pursue a career in this industry as they could see how much I enjoyed meeting different people. My family and friends also saw that it was this industry that gave me the most satisfaction both from a personal perspective and a job perspective

How did you go about getting your current job?

I had been in my previous job for two years and felt it was time to make a change. I contacted a recruitment agency that I had previously worked with and they mentioned this position to me. I was attracted to this, as although I had already been working as a Sales Executive, I felt that I had a lot to learn from The Ritz-Carlton as they are a world renowned company with an amazing history for success.

The interview process for The Ritz-Carlton is different to other positions I had held previously. For this, I had to undergo a Talent Plus interview over the phone. Luckily I did well in this and was offered the position of Catering Sales Executive immediately.

Describe a typical day?

There is no such thing as a typical day in Catering Sales at The Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt. Everyday is different and that is what keeps it interesting. One day you could be at your desk answering emails and doing up contracts whereas the next you could be running from appointment to appointment meeting with potential clients. There is always something to do and that is what makes it so interesting and enjoyable.

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

As a Catering Sales Executive I am part of the Sales and Marketing team which is responsible for generating top line revenue for the hotel. I report to the Catering Sales Manager. We look after selling any catering-driven business that takes place in the hotel. This could be anything from a wedding to a gala dinner to a birthday party celebration.

This job is a reactive and pro-active sales position which entails meeting with potential clients and carrying out site inspections for every event. Every event is different and we tailor-make each one to the needs and wishes of our guests, while at the same time focussing on profitability.

What are the main challenges?

At the moment the main challenge is generating enough revenue in order to deliver value for money to our clients while at the same time making a profit and maintaining standards at the Hotel. The economic climate is a very challenging one these days and it has made closing a sale more difficult as disposable income has gone down while the industry has become much more competitive.

We continuously carry out competitor analysis so that we keep abreast of changes in the market place, particularly with regard to pricing. We always ensure that we position The Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt correctly without compromising the quality or prestige of this global brand. Once we do close a sale and receive a signed contract, there is a great sense of achievement which is always very rewarding.

What's cool?

It is great working in Powerscourt. There is so much history surrounding the estate and it is great to be able to share it with our guests. The venue is in a great location... no money can pay for those views and I get to see them everyday!!! I have the best drive to work in the world. People pay to drive that driveway. I never take it for granted.

What's not so cool?

To be honest there is very little that I dislike about my job. There is no point working somewhere if you are not happy. I prefer to see things as a challenge or an opportunity as opposed to something I dislike.

What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?

I am a team player and I have been told that my attention to detail and skills at closing a deal are very important and special skills. I am very proud of this.

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

As well as the standard leaving certificate subjects I chose History, Business, Home Economics and German. I have always had an interest in history and this is rearing its head once again now that I am in Powerscourt.

The Business Subjects are very important too as they were a vital foundation subject for my college degree. I have a strong aptitude for finance and hope to go on to complete the ACCA exams one day.

I also studied German from the age of 12 through to degree level. Although I am not fluent I have a reasonably good understanding of the language and feel that having an extra language is always beneficial (i.e. in a previous job we had a number of German tour buses visiting the hotel and I often had to speak to the guests in their own language).

What is your education to date?

I attended Secondary School in Sion Hill, Blackrock, Co. Dublin where I completed my leaving certificate. Following successful exam results I was accepted into the BSc Hospitality Management in Cathal Brugha Street. This was a four year course that covered many aspects of the industry (including training in the Kitchen).

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

All my training has been beneficial in different ways. However the most important aspect of my education was my final year project in college. For this we had to design a hotel and work as a team to put together a complete business plan. This was beneficial as it involved teamwork and also meeting deadlines, plus it gave me a huge overview as to how a hotel is operated from dishwasher to revenue manager to pay roll

What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?

Being a member of the Catering Sales Team at The Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt. Our team recently received international recognition from the Ritz-Carlton Corporate Office in Washington DC – we had the quickest enquiry response time of all hotels in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company International Region.

One memory I have from my earlier years was that I urged and coaxed a huge Computing / IT Company to switch their preferred supplier of hotel accommodation to the hotel I was working in. This was a huge coup as they had never moved hotels before.

What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?

  • Patience and understanding that Brides and Grooms are parting with emotional money
  • Time Management of my own personal time
  • Respect for my peers and management
  • Trust in the Brand and Hotel Company
  • Laughter and a sense of humour as some days you really just need to laugh
  •  Problem solver and love a challenge
  • Calm and organised

What is your dream job?

In an ideal world I would like to eventually be a Director of Sales and Marketing. In a dream world I would love to own a small boutique hotel in either the Algarve or Italy.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

Absolutely. It is hard work but once you take pleasure in what you are doing, it pays off. Although I work some weekends, I have plenty of weekends off to spend time unwinding. There is a great work-life balance, but you have to create this balance yourself.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

I would advise them that the sales world is not as glamorous and easy as it comes across but it can be extremely rewarding. I would recommend you go for this type of position if you are someone who enjoys a challenge and can negotiate very well.

Sales and Catering Sales as a position is a tough one and there are a lot of challenges in that you really need to be customer focused yet remember that you have to make a profit. Selling weddings is a side of my job that is very satisfying as you get to see the end result of something that you have created which at the same time is the most important event in a families and a couple’s life.

What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?

  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to listen and think outside the box
  • Well organised

What is your favourite music?

I will listen to absolutely anything.

What is your favourite film?

The Shawshank Redemption

What is your star sign?

Leo

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

The first position would be to see how events are run on the floor from an operational perspective. I think that anyone who has worked in operations or in detailing events would be well suited to this position as they will already have learned how to make an event happen and once you know how it happens then you can sell it.

It is definitely beneficial to have an understanding of how the other departments work on a day to day basis and see how they liaise with each other to make an event smooth-running and successful.

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