Juggling the human resources case files of scores of expatriate workers is all in a day’s work for Ms. Kitty Sousa, Assistant Director of Relocation at integrated resort developer and operator MGM Macau.
“When team members – wherever they come from in the world – have an issue and they come to see us, and then they leave the office feeling happy and settled, this is very rewarding,” she explains.
“In my current HR role at MGM Macau I also participate in careers fairs and HR activities to share with industry entrants my experiences regarding internships in hospitality,” Ms. Sousa adds.
“Every year at MGM Macau we accept 2 batches of IFT interns. Those in each intake work for 6 months in different areas of our hotel. On each occasion we give a talk, and hold an experience sharing session with the students: not to try and ‘sell’ the company to them as an employer but to provide them with information and insights to enable them to make the right choices.”
Ms. Sousa explains that her skills in human resources management have been honed over a number of years.
“Early in my career I had to deal with the HR processes of 200 expatriate staff all at the same time, regularly going down to the Government immigration office to deal with such matters. If I had not had that kind of experience, I don’t think I could have taught my own staff now how to do that, or have been able to set an example for them,” states Ms. Sousa.
She graduated from IFT in 2001 with a Bachelor Degree in Tourism Business Management.
“I was so lucky that after graduation… I had an opportunity to stay in the Institute as an instructor. At that time the economy was not very good, so the Government had provided some training programmes for unemployed people. I was one of the instructors for that – mainly focusing on customer service [and] some courses on hotel operations. This started my career in the industry,” explains Ms. Sousa.
After working as an instructor for several years, she joined Wynn Macau as part of the pre-opening team, prior to the property’s launch in September 2006.
“The gaming industry had just started to open up, with overseas investment, so I thought it was a great chance for me to broaden my vision by joining the industry,” says Ms. Sousa.
“I was working in the relocation team at Wynn,” with responsibility for helping overseas workers coming into the property, she adds.
“As the scale of the business became bigger and bigger, the human resources unit went through restructure, so that they had to have a focused team on that specific job,” Ms. Sousa explains.
She says the experience of studying at IFT was an important contribution to her professional development.
“How much was shaped by own personality and how much was shaped by studying at IFT? I would say half and half,” Ms. Sousa explains.
“I am talkative, and active, and like to try new things – this is my personality – and because I am the eldest daughter in the family, I was used to taking on a lot of responsibility,” she adds.
But Ms. Sousa also acknowledges that when it came to spoken communication in English, learning at IFT via the medium of that language brought her out of her shell.
“No matter which industry you are working in, communication is really important. And those skills are very important when studying in IFT,” she states.
Asked if she had advice to new entrants to the hotel and tourism industry, including the next batch of IFT graduates, Ms. Sousa says: “I would suggest for them to try to start their career in an operational area. If you aim to be a management person eventually, you have to start from the rank and file: you have to start in operations so you can learn how to manage your people.”
She adds: “Fresh graduates should try to open themselves up to new challenges, and not just stay in their comfort zone.”