They say that there’s nothing you can’t do if you want it badly enough. Not quite true. Wanting it is not enough. You have to work out a plan of action to make your dreams reality, as alumnus Dexter Chia, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Regent Hotels & Resorts, Taiwan, knows all too well.
When Dexter Chia graduated from Les Roches, he was accepted on the Grand Hyatt Management Trainee program. Unfortunately, an illness in the family meant that he had to return to Singapore. He found himself only offered junior receptionist roles. For his father, a successful Chinese businessman, this was a disgrace. “How can my son, a Swiss-educated graduate, be in such a useless job?”
Father and son rowed. Father kicked son out of family business. Son went away to Hong Kong and became a receptionist at the Kowloon Shangri-La.
I used to point people to where the toilets were. Carry the bags. I didn’t expect this.’ Dexter says. ‘I asked myself, ‘what am I doing here? I speak five languages. I’m a Swiss graduate.
But the story did not end there. It couldn’t. “I didn’t want to go back empty handed. I didn’t want my dad to be right. I had no choice. I just had to press on. It was kind of tough.”
In his second year, Dexter moved to the Sales team.
By the end of the second year, I was already the top person. Because I had nowhere to go. I thought ‘I have to make the most of it and do it well.’ I went from being someone with no account to becoming the top sales person within a year
And then his career really took off. To cut a long (and illustrious) story short, here is an abridged version of his career path and the awards he has won:
- In 1993, during his second year at Shangri-La, Dexter was awarded the Top Sales Person of the Year for Shangri-La worldwide
- From 1997-2000, he worked as Director of Sales and Marketing role at Shangri-La in Singapore. The hotel was awarded Hotel of the Year in 1999 by Shangri La hotels and resorts
- From 2001 to 2004, Dexter was with Pudong Shangri-La Hotel in Shanghai. And that hotel was awarded Best Hotel of the Year and Best Sales & Marketing Team of the Year
- From 2005 to 2009, Dexter worked for the Intercontinental Hotel Group as Vice President Sales & Marketing in China. In 2007, IHG Greater China was given the Best Sales & Marketing Team in Greater China Award by the Travel Trade Gazette
- In 2008, his Sales team won the award for Overall Best Sales & Marketing Team by Intercontinental Hotel Group
You think you’d be safe to assume he has Midas-touch sales abilities. Not so.
I am quite a poor salesman, actually. And I consider myself a better marketing person, a guru. Sales, E-Commerce, Reservations, Brand Communication, Revenue Management, Public Relations… Sales is the basic. A fundamental for me to know, but definitely it’s not my favorite aspect.”
Dexter cites one of his proudest moments as building the Rosewood Sales and Marketing infrastructure, the re-launch of the brand in Asia. It’s something he thinks his son will remember as a “wow – my dad did that” moment.
Reflecting on his son, he says: “Andy always likes to go to the hotel; he gets a lot of attention. Being the son of the VP, you get good service. It’s a nice, happy, posh environment. He says he would like to become VP too.”
Not without hard graft, though. As Dexter says:
There is no fast track, no easy way. You have to be very committed and passionate. You must just keep moving on.
A good work ethos is something he will pass down to his son. It is also something, one suspects, that he received from his businessman father.
And yes, we are happy to report that Dexter’s Dad – with due reason – is proud these days of his Swiss-educated hospitality graduate son.