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A true HMSHost legend: Anne Singe’s legacy of three decades of dedicated service

One of the biggest compliments for an employer is when people choose to pursue their personal ambitions and career goals within the company. At HMSHost International we love to grow our business and help the talents of our associates blossom at the same time. Take Anne Singe as an example. With 30 years of working experience within our company, currently as HMSHost’s General Manager for New Zealand & Australia, she is a true HMSHost legend. During the HMSHost Annual Senior Management Conference at the end of last year, Anne was elected ‘General Manager of the Year’. A special tribute to 30 years of dedication.

“My career with HMSHost began in 1989,” shares Anne, “I had been working at Auckland Airport since 1981 with the previous food and beverage company. After 8 years HMSHost entered the New Zealand market and formed a joint venture with Auckland Airport. That made HMSHost the new operator for all food and beverage facilities and they approached me to work as their HR Manager, to which I immediately said yes. I was impressed by HMSHost, as they are a professional world leading company in food and beverage, with an excellent reputation. They brought new and innovative ideas to the New Zealand market, that in 1989, was still very conservative in its approach to hospitality, and especially in airports.”

After working as the HR Manager for two years, Anne was promoted to Operations Manager and then in 1992 she was appointed as Auckland’s General Manager. “This function I held for almost 24 years, during which time our business grew substantially. In 1992 the Auckland business employed 60 people, compared with, in 2018, 220 people. In 2016 I was appointed as General Manager for New Zealand & Australia.”

Technology changed everything
In 30 years, a lot has changed. To begin, the accessibility and ease of airline travel has risen dramatically, and the frequency in which people fly has increased accordingly. “In three decades there have been many fundamental changes in our industry and in our way of working,” Anne states, “One of the main changes – of course – is the rise of technology. The introduction of computers, mobile phones, point-of-sale systems, new payment methods, but also the introduction of social media platforms, has had a huge impact on our business.”

Next to that, Anne has witnessed many food and beverage trends develop. “As consumers travel more, discovering new foods and destinations, their expectations have risen. One of the biggest developments in our region – and in the world as a whole – has been the establishment, and growing importance, of a coffee culture. In recent times there has been an increased focus on sustainability. Combined with a predilection for local produce – we have seen consumers develop an interest for the complete story behind the product: from farm to plate.”  

“Our people are the key to our business success”
Operating a successful business from both a financial and people perspective, is what makes Anne tick. The aspect she likes most about her job is that it’s a people’s business. “It’s rewarding that we are able to make a positive difference with our people: working in teams to achieve common goals. I’m always looking for ways to create opportunities that help develop people, both from a career perspective, and on a personal level. I enjoy taking on a mentor role with associates who show initiative and step up to grow in our business. Over the years I’ve learnt the most important attribute when employing people, is that they have a positive attitude.”

Anne adds: “In my opinion, people are the key to our business success. I believe in creating places people want to be, both for our guests, and our associates as well. Associates are not numbers, they are real people and need to know and feel they are appreciated. Teamwork is essential to our success – in hospitality we cannot deliver on our own, it is the power of working together as a team that ensures we deliver positive results. I encourage people to bring out the best in themselves. As a manager I think it’s important to lead by example. I wouldn’t expect anyone to do something I wouldn’t do myself.”

“It is refreshing to work for a company who treats it’s associates equally and fairly when applying for roles.”

Equal opportunity employer
“To me HMSHost has been a very supportive and encouraging employer. They have assisted my personal development by providing professional training,” Anne continues, “During my time with HMSHost I have completed various vocational training programs. These have included a Business Excellence Course and a Strategic Development Management Course which helped me develop essential skills to grow as a person and in my job.”

Anne: “To me, HMSHost has always been, and still is, an equal opportunity employer.” In the eighties, when Anne started her career, the hospitality industry in New Zealand was primarily male dominated in management. “Over my time working with HMSHost, when career opportunities arose, I was given every opportunity to apply for positions. It is refreshing to work for a company who treats it’s associates equally and fairly when applying for roles.”

In 30 years Anne has been able to support the career development of many associates, something that fills her with pride. Asked for any special memories, encounters or guests that Anne served during her career at HMSHost, she can name many. “Special are the memories of our associates who met at HMSHost and consequently got married, and had children.” Over the years Anne met many famous people: from (former) US-presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, to celebrities like John Travolta. “I also served the flight crew of the first Concorde flight to New Zealand and have looked after a number of New Zealand Prime Ministers.”

Fear for the Millenium-bug
One day Anne will never forget is 31st of December 1999, being the Y2K (year 2000). “I was at the airport at midnight, when all the world was fearing a Millennium-bug. Along with other senior management, we were there to see if our computers, point of sale systems, water, electricity and everything else would keep working. At the time many people feared planes were going to fall out of the sky. The eyes of our HMSHost colleagues worldwide were on us in New Zealand, to understand what would be the impact of Y2K, as we are the first country in the world to welcome in the new year. Ironically and fortunately, Y2K would prove to be a non-event.”

General Manager of the Year
During the HMSHost annual Senior Management Conference at the end of last year, Anne was elected ‘General Manager of the Year’. It took her by surprise, but also filled her with pride to be recognised by the HMSHost management for her performance and commitment. “To me it’s the acknowledgement of many years of hard work and loyalty. It’s hard to believe it has been 30 years!”

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 Joyce, working for HMSHost International in China.