Name: Dr. Gabor Forgacs
Years of experience: 30+
Occupation: University Professor at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management

Q: How did you get started in your industry?

A: It was a summer job during high school at a resort hotel. I was a bell boy for a month at the age of 16. I loved it: the environment, the people and the money I made.

Q: Describe the ideal qualities a person should have to succeed in your industry?

A: Fast learner, interested in people, handles pressure well, multitasker, great listening skills and open to diversity of any kind.

Q: What kind of background, either educational or other, best suits someone starting out in your industry?

A: If you are well traveled and had seen other cultures it helps you relate to visitors, customers and colleagues from all walks of life. If your family values people who are fun loving, hospitable and personable then it comes to you more naturally. Education matters a lot if you’d like have a corporate career; experience matters just as much, if not more if you want to be an entrepreneur and work for yourself.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: I am an educator in tourism and hospitality management and I like the fact that I am working with energetic and bright young people and that I am challenged on a daily basis to be my best.

Q: What are the most challenging aspects of your industry?

A: It is a fast paced environment, most businesses work irregular hours (definitely not a “9-to-5” line of work) and the busiest times for us are when most people have holidays or vacations. There is not a steady flow of work: there are slow periods and crazy busy times fluctuating and like in any service related field, the customers are demanding and don’t accept inferior quality in anything. Plus, it is a very competitive field.

Q: For newcomers to the industry, what tips would you offer them on getting started in their career?

A: Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty: start at a line level job to learn what happens when the rubber hits road. That experience will help you get well grounded and be credible when you start moving up and supervising and managing others. Work hard and play hard – it is important to unplug and recharge your batteries as the work can be stressful and exhausting. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t feel like spending a lifetime in this field as most of the skills you learn are transferable to any other field of business.

Q: What kind of local associations/organizations/volunteer activities would you recommend for people just starting out?

A: Volunteer initially for everything your employer is involved with from the Terry Fox Run to the United Way. After you have figured it out which causes your are most comfortable supporting and which venue has the right networking opportunities (a great way to meet people from other divisions and ranks is to volunteer together at a fund raiser!) you may be more selective. For the associations and organizations you have to do your homework and do some research. It matters a great deal whom you know, but what matters a lot more is who knows you. You have to work hard at that: getting noticed and known for something will be the result of dedicated efforts. There are no shortcuts. If you want to build a reputation, you will have to earn it.