Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Cool Change

Jen F. Vega - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - When she felt that it was time for a cool change, Cleofe Albiso took a leap of faith and yielded to the truth that you are your own savior.

"I think it's more on every individual’s believing in yourself so that no amount of change will scare you. No matter what change you bring in to your life, you know that you're confident enough to survive because you have yourself. Your biggest bullet, your biggest ammunition is the belief that you can conquer anything, no matter which direction you take, because you trust you," she said.

What is the big change in her life? A career shift from telecommunications to the vibrant hospitality industry as the Director of Sales & Marketing of Cebu City Marriott Hotel.

How was the transition from being part of a telecommunication company to being an asset in an established hotel brand?

It was a big challenge but what made it easier for me was that we have the same owning company. It mattered a lot. Globe Telecom and Marriott almost uphold the same set of corporate values and how we highly give importance to our employees. The associates are valued. There are rewarding schemes that I find very important and I see that these two companies provide value to human resource which makes me comfortable. It's always a come-on for me.

What can you say about the Marriott brand and its culture? Did the career shift affect your time with family?

Even prior to joining Marriott, GM made it clear that the company's mantra is a balanced life. I'm a mother of four kids, so that was also a big come-on to me. Telco in general is really fast-paced, it's a very dynamic industry. Things and promos can change overnight and you'd have to put it up on trade and make people know that these are already up and functional. But here (in Marriott), things have to be in proper position. In Marriott, you know that the brand is trusted globally, so that gives me the confidence that despite moving to a totally different industry, I'm actually moving to something reliable. I don't have to create a brand; I don't have to build it because it's there. When you talk about Marriott, people know.

How do you want to promote Marriott? How do you want to project it to the target market?

We're pretty lucky that the global Marriott has been established. It's not anything that we need to work on selling. But what we need to do in the property, locally, is to make sure that each guest that comes here actually feels the experience; gets to experience first-hand the Marriott promise of being brilliant hosts with brilliant associates to give utmost quality service. We will always have different cultures worldwide but it's more on delivering the promise; it's more of making sure that each guest knows that we're really willing to go the extra mile to make them feel special. We welcome those people who are actually interested to do business with us.

Can you elaborate more on the "extra mile" you give to your guests?

It's a common discussion within our team. The extra mile that we talk of is providing personalized service, knowing the type of needs of our clients, profiling them and understanding what their goals are as businessmen, knowing even before they asked us. When we know what their goals are, we are actually able to communicate with them how else we can improve the events, as well as make suggestions. In Marriott, we know what else we can provide to meet the goals that they have in mind. Pretty much, it's more on profiling and customizing the service.

What's the most important lesson you've learned during your stint with the telco company that you want to apply in Marriot?

Customer service would be one and the drive and passion to excel. No matter how simple your job description is, if you have passion, you'll never go wrong.

How do you work? What type of leader are you?

I know that my strength is people management. I'm the type of leader who empowers my team so that they will decide to really go beyond. It's like telling them that I have their backs. I tell them I'm there to support them so that they voluntarily do what they are tasked to do because they know that I'm there to actually support them as long as they do the right thing. When you're a people manager, you always make sure that they work happily. That's what I got from Globe also; that it's always a circle of happiness - when you're not happy, you're not really able to deliver. I'm lucky that I have a team who will go with me towards that dream where I also want to lead them.

How do you deal with irate customers?

Luckily, I don't have much of this experience  but I've had customers who were aggressive and demanding, for the lack of better terms, who wanted me to supply what they wanted pronto. I have to admit to my team that I'm not as patient now as I was before. It's not anything you fake. At the end of the day, the person you get to relate with will always know that you're faking it - that you are not a natural and courteous person. Somehow it will show in your gestures. Somehow they'll get a hint that you're not naturally polite. The way you treat people is always like a cycle: you get what you actually provide. You earn the kind of treatment you give. They can't stay irate when you are too polite to them, when you just express naturally that you are very much willing to assist them in what they need.

What do you do during your downtime?

I write. It's my avocation. I'm editor-in-chief of Espejo Magazine, a local magazine in Eastern Visayas, based in Tacloban. It's a magazine that talks about the place, its people but it's not limited to tourism. It's like an info magazine; a combination of yellow pages. It's been there for four years but circulation started two years ago. Also, I have kids. I try to spend quality time with them when I'm not at work. It's uptime actually when I'm with my kids.


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