Aga Letka-Mokrzycka's story
My first general manager was inspiring. He had an open door policy, everybody could approach him, and he was so hands-on, helping support the team and focusing on team development; he got so much satisfaction from his team growing in the hotel and in operations.
He was always smiling, he showed empathy and he tried to know us as a person as well as an employee. As a result, the performance of the hotel was amazing. I was on an internship and from 20 years old I wanted to be like him; I knew I wanted to be a General Manager and I built my career around that goal together with education.
I look after my team and I have an open door policy like my first GM. I do regular catch-ups with them, finding out how they are and having informal conversations about their personal life; I learn what they need –professionally and personally.
After the lockdowns, we know we need to be as flexible as possible. We do a lot in connection with employee wellbeing. Sometimes it is not about the work but the work we do behind the scenes, like team activities; we play games for 20 minutes and then we go to work and the atmosphere is different, better.
I focus strongly on development. Every Friday I run workshops, I share the knowledge I have so that they know about what is happening in the company, their benefits and initiatives. We brainstorm ideas, make team decisions about operations. If we make a mistake, we learn from it, rather than me saying that was a mistake; sometimes the idea might be good but something about the background though process went wrong.
I like them to get to know our competitors, to explore outside of the hotel and have coffee in our rivals’ hotels. I encourage them to build a network and I am developing them as much as I can – they are on programmes and training offered by the company.
I advise someone newly in the industry to be patient – anything can happen, never give up and treat all difficulties as learning opportunities. Get out of your comfort zone, try everything possible! By challenging themselves they can achieve great things. Dream big, believe in yourself. When I joined Accor in the UK 8 years ago, I started as a team member but I knew where I wanted to be, I had a goal. When you go into your career, it is quite difficult to start from scratch when you are relocating to another country from HOD position, but I was very positive. I was pushing myself very hard to go out of my comfort zone to explore all others areas of the hotel and business, and 7 years later to the day I joined, I was promoted to GM. Everything is possible if you are patient, have faith in yourself and look up to the people who can develop you. Do not let anyone put you down. Reflect on constructive feedback and do not take anything for granted. It is always room to improve.
Hospitality is an amazing world, it’s like a show, every day is different and that is its appeal to someone looking for a first job. You can experience everything, including concerts, music or sport at stadiums, arenas and other venues. You can meet amazing people who will become friends for life, explore endless opportunities and move around the world; you never know what will come through the door. I never thought I will have the opportunity to be involved with hosting a major event such the MTV awards in Wembley, but I did and I saw my favourite artists – I even had a quick conversation with them.
A lot of people have the wrong idea about hospitality, that it’s all about handing over keys but it’s not, it’s about reception, F&B, business analysis; there are lots of disciplines. Hospitality work is an endless adventure. You meet a lot of people who do everything from the heart, especially in Accor, it’s in our DNA. And if one day, you have the opportunity to work with those people, they will support and develop you and believe in you.
- Aga Letka-Mokrzycka
- General Manager
- ibis London Luton Airport (UK)