As a young boy, Leon Mascarenhas and his family travelled extensively to visit his father who worked for Kuwait Airways.
Boarding massive Boeing 777s on family trips gave him his first exposure to the service industry and impressed young Mascarenhas so much that he dreamt of working in aviation. That goal eventually evolved into a career in hospitality, where he has recently been appointed as operations manager of the Heritage Collection at Heritage and City Life Hotels.
His first foray in the hotel industry was as a room service waiter before he tried working in customer service at a contact centre. Eventually, the draw of the hotel industry pulled him back in.
“I stepped into the accommodation provider’s realm and enjoyed every bit of it. The interaction with guests, especially with people from different ethnicities, is fascinating,” Mascarenhas said.
Mascarenhas’s hospitality career truly began when he was working with the Grand Hyatt Mumbai. Afterwards, he moved to Auckland, where he started working for SkyCity Grand Hotel. Since then he’s also worked at Stamford Plaza, MCK Group, Waipuna Hotel, Rasa Hospitality Group, TFE Hotels and now works with Heritage Hotels.
Having travelled extensively growing up, he got a good sight of some of the world’s premium tourist destinations. Some of his favourite locales are Kuwait, Malaysia, Thailand, Dubai and Australia.
“I liked Dubai and the way it has been developed for a desert country. It clearly shows vision.”
The most rewarding part of the job for Mascarenhas is meeting different people and building relationships and bonds with them.
“Knowing that personal service can leave a lasting impression on an individual is rewarding and I strive to provide the best.”
However, Mascarenhas acknowledges the challenges of the hotel industry which employees new on the scene often struggle with.
“The nature of the business being 24 hours can be challenging for many working in the industry, especially during the early days of a career. Many are turned off due to this and change industries. There are times you have to commit more time to work due to some important event or any last-minute situation and sometimes you have to sacrifice family time. Eventually, you understand the nature of the beast and learn to work around it.”
Mascarenhas, a modest man, believes the team behind him plays a massive role in his achievements.
“My team is my strength, and I solely rely on the success of my team. A happy team equates to happy guests.”
He also values the training and development of his team, ensuring they are prepared with all the skills necessary to aid guests during their stay.
“People skills are an important aspect of hospitality, nurturing your team members, ensuring that the team are trained well and have the right tools to get the job done is an important aspect.”
Contemplating his industry experience, Mascarenhas left a tidbit of advice for newcomers in the hotel industry, suggesting they push through and face any challenges head-on.
“The industry can be demanding, and in the initial stages it can be challenging but the scope to grow and learn is tremendous. There are great opportunities to travel, and if you are open to the challenge, the world can be your oyster.”