Diamond opportunities for Caymanians

Programmes for recruitment, training and development at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman are a key driver of the resort’s ongoing success.

According to a press release from the resort, essential to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s recent receipt of the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award are ongoing recruitment and training programmes for its Caymanian ladies and gentlemen.

‘Currently comprising 25 per cent of the workforce at the resort, Caymanians work in many ‘front of the house’ positions that have contributed significantly to the resort’s successes, including being rated the top Ritz-Carlton hotel worldwide for guest engagement,’ says the press release.

‘Our guests are sophisticated travellers who want to experience the authentic hospitality of the Cayman Islands’, said Human Resources Director Brenda Belding-Topping. ‘Of course it would be impossible to deliver that without employing talented Caymanians. It is critical for us to offer ongoing development programmes to fulfil our promise to our ladies and gentlemen, providing a work environment in which their individual aspirations can be fulfilled.’

The Hospitality in Training Programme at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman was launched in October 2006 and has proven to be an effective way to introduce young Caymanians to opportunities within the luxury hospitality industry, the release notes. The HIT programme is essentially a paid apprenticeship. At the end of their training, participants are fully certified Ritz-Carlton hospitality professionals and have a chance to further their career as a full-time Ritz-Carlton employee either in Cayman or at another one of the 65 Ritz-Carlton hotels worldwide.

Participants in the HIT Programme are able to ‘get their feet wet’ in the field they are considering as a career and develop individual talents, skills and preferences. The HIT Programme allows participants to move around the resort and try out several positions, unlike many jobs in which changing departments can take months.

‘I wasn’t just put in an office to file. I came here and actually got work to do’, said HIT participant Paige Walton. ‘I strongly recommend the HIT programme’.

At any given time the programme includes 12 – 15 participants that range from high school students to recent college graduates. While they are assigned to different areas of the hotel, they meet as a group with human resources managers once a month so they can share feedback and individual experiences.

Since its inception, the HIT Programme has promoted two outstanding graduates to full time positions: Andrew Nembhard and Alyssa Ebanks.

‘My experience at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman has exceeded my expectations with the help of trainers and mentors’, said Mr. Nembhard who was recently promoted to Accounting Clerk. ‘I’ve never thought in my whole life that I would find a job that I enjoy doing and at the same time learning and growing in the accounting field.’

Ms Ebanks has been promoted to be a Spa Attendant at Silver Rain, a La Prairie Spa.

In addition to the HIT programme, the resort also occasionally hosts internships for young Caymanians. ‘Internships are an excellent way for students who have already chosen their career paths to gain valuable hands-on experience in a specific field at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman,’ said the release.

‘I came into The Ritz-Carlton slightly wary because I didn’t know what to expect, working in a hotel company as large and popular as The Ritz-Carlton,’ said Erika Walton who completed a marketing and public relations internship during her summer break in 2007. ‘However, it was great experience that kept me busy for the eight weeks I was there. My co-workers really do make you feel at home, and applying the theories I’ve learned at university to the day to day work here is a great feeling.’

Tawnie Tomlinson was also first introduced to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman through an internship. She has since joined the company full-time as a Manager in Training for the Human Resources department.

As with all of the Caymanian ladies and gentlemen at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, interns and HIT participants can choose to be assigned a mentor from the hotel’s management team to help guide their career development.

‘Having a mentor is another part of the HIT Program,’ said Lexie Bush who has been working in Meetings and Special Events since November 2006. ‘Your mentor is there for you if you have a question or just want to talk to someone. The HIT Programme has been wonderful. It really reflects the fact that The Ritz-Carlton gives you the opportunity to continuously learn and grow.’

VIP Liaison Manager Kurt Christian himself has a mentor to help him develop into a senior executive within the company. He and Resort Manager Chris Sariego meet every two weeks. While Mr. Christian has one official ‘mentee’, he informally coaches several Caymanians to help them maximize their opportunities and satisfaction within The Ritz-Carlton organisation.

‘I strongly believe in the need for both the Mentorship and HIT Programs,’ said Mr. Sariego. ‘In essence, both programmes are about passing on knowledge that senior managers have gained throughout years of academic and hands-on work experience to our Caymanian ladies and gentlemen.’

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