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How Joyce Cheng’s ‘can-do-mentality’ helps HMSHost grow business in China

Together with her team, Joyce Cheng is responsible for HMSHosts’ business development in China. Mid October, she was awarded by her own colleagues and management with the HMSHost Return on Attention award for outstanding performance. What is it that makes Joyce such a unique colleague and how does she inspire her team and landlords alike? With an open mind and by daring to ask ‘silly’ questions, Joyce is opening up China’s market.

Before Joyce joined the HMSHost team two years ago in 2017, she had a vivid career in hospitality, real estate and retail, working for leading companies such as JW Marriott, Ivanhoé Cambridge and IKEA. “What I like most about working at HMSHost is the people working here. The way in which they communicate and share their vision, I find very inspiring. It’s a very professional and dedicated team and I can feel that they care deeply for each other and their customers.”

Different but the same

Joyce is happy with the opportunity she gets at HMSHost International. “They have provided me with the chance to work in a newly developed industry in China: food and beverage services at travel destinations. It’s a new working area for me, however, it links to all the skills and knowledge I have obtained in my previous career. In the end the consumers at travel destinations are the same consumers we can find in the retail scene, albeit with different habits and buying behaviour. However, in my daily work, it helps that I come from a slightly different background, as I approach things with an open mind and a fresh vision.”

Working in the Business Development department at HMSHost China, Joyce’s job has lots of possibilities and challenges. “Our team is full of passion. We are new to China’s market and the market is relatively new to us as well. I am thrilled to overcome the day by day challenges and encourage myself and the team, even when sometimes it is not that easy to be the new kid on the block. I often say to my superior and co-workers: ‘if you never try, you'll never know’ and ‘if it does not work out this time, let’s try harder next time’.”

“If you never try, you’ll never know”.

Career opportunities

“The first year I was working as a marketing manager at HMSHost”, Joyce explains. “Then they challenged me to transfer to business development. In other companies in China this happens rarely, but at HMSHost, I find many colleagues around me who have been working across different functions or are coming from alternative professional backgrounds.” HMSHost proves to be a company full of career opportunities. “They value your attitude and soft skills more than your hard skills and experience. And most importantly, they believe in you. I like to work in new areas that have not been fully developed as I can create my own way instead of following the others. For me, working at HMSHost China is a perfect match. And in the future that lies ahead, when the time is right, I am sure HMSHost will allow me to expand my career path within our company.”

Return On Attention

During the annual HMSHost International Senior Management conference in October this year, Joyce was awarded the ‘Return on Attention’ award, for outstanding performance. “I feel thrilled and a bit surprised as our business scale in China is still relatively small and there are a lot of areas that still need improvement. However, it means a lot to me and the China team that all our hard work and efforts have been acknowledged.” Joyce strongly believes that if you put enough attention into a project or a person, in due time, you will get rewarded for it. “We are in the service industry and people appreciate it if you approach them with care and attention. In my role, I am meeting with different landlords every day. Believe me, they know if you did your homework and they will appreciate it if you treat them with respect. In China, it sometimes may take a while, but in the end you will reap the rewards for the hard work and effort that you put into it.”

Asking silly questions

One of the things her colleagues like most about Joyce, is that she is very good at ‘thinking out of the box’ when tackling challenges. “I am known for daring to ask silly questions. It’s easy for me as I was not in the industry before. Sometimes things can look different when approached with a fresh vision. One example was when we opened one of our stores in Shanghai. We couldn’t meet the set opening deadline, as the chef’s line had not been installed yet. We would face penalties if we could not open on time. It was a difficult situation for the team and everyone was looking for the best solution. As I didn’t have much knowledge of kitchen openings I was the one that looked at it from a different angle. I said ‘I don’t really know what the chef’s line is, however, can we cook food without it?’ The answer from the Operations Team was ‘yes’. So, that solved the problem immediately.”

Another example is from when the team opened a new brand store at Shanghai Pu Dong airport. There were some challenges with scheduling our staff and trainings, because we had no confirmation on the actual opening date. The HR department could not guarantee that we would have enough staff if we needed to open earlier. But Operations also had to consider the hours we have to pay, when there would be a delay in opening. The time gap was around two weeks. When they presented this challenge to me, it brought back memories from when I was working in the catering industry. Normally, the hotel does not permanently deploy big banqueting teams, so if we occasionally hosted exceptionally big events, everyone from other departments - including housekeeping, front office, accounting, even our GM - would help to serve the tables. So I proposed a plan that could help solve our issue. First, I asked the concept team to check if they can send the brand’s more experienced people to help us out in the first two weeks of opening. And then, I suggested for everyone in the office to work in the store if needed. As we are one team, we can always help each other out and I happily volunteered myself. It’s that ‘can-co’ mentality that you need to be able to grow in a new market.”

The associates of HMSHost International are the real heroes behind the organisation’s success story. Interested in more of our strengths? Read the story of Jaya, working for HMSHost International in India and the Maldives.