Feature Part 4: Challenging Conventions with Nicole Chew

  • 14.09.2021

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Nicole Ann Chew, Luxury Hospitality

1. Can you please briefly describe what your role is / what you do for a living?

I am the Cluster (I know, not the best word to have in your title during a pandemic) Director of Marketing Communications for JW Marriott Singapore South Beach and The St. Regis Singapore. I basically helm all marketing, promotions, brand and public relations matters.

2. What led you to choose your current career path? 

It was completely by accident and if you told my 15-year-old self, I was going to do what I am doing now – she would laugh and call you insane!

I might have a conventional job, but I definitely didn’t have a conventional upbringing!  Growing up was not an easy path for me! I spent most of my formidable years in Dallas Texas (YEE HAW) and after coming back, spent a few years in a British international school before graduating from a local private institution. American, British and then Singapore – talk about being a confused kid!

I eventually decided when I was in college that I wanted to be air stewardess, but once again God had another plan for me, eventually having me settle in a hospitality job recommended by my aunt. Never looked back since, not once!

For the record – I tried the air stewardess interview 4 times! If anyone knows the secret to passing all 6 stages of the interview, do share!

3. How do you feel about being in a career pathway that others / society deems to be ‘conventionally successful’? 

For one – I personally feel like I have a long way more to go before calling myself successful! Nicole for President maybe?

On a more serious note – conventional success? Unconventional Success? Success is success. Everyone has their own path / journey. However, if I can just put my own little opinion into this – if someone deems you successful in a conventional job you should BE PROUD and CELEBRATE cause if you can push the boundaries in an establish brand that has done it all, what more could you ask for!

4. Do you think your life has been easier or harder based on the type of career you’ve chosen or caliber of organization you work for? Any myths you can dispel about your career choice?

Cliché of an answer – every path has it challenges! There is no easier route, but if you find a job which you truly enjoy each component of it – it’s easier!

Biggest myth is how glamourous a hotel job can be! When you tell someone that you work at a prestigious brand such as St Regis, they think rich marble tables, luxurious views…etc. It’s not. Any space that has potential – will be transformed into a room or a unique space for guests. The spaces that don’t have much potential are the ones we use as offices!

5. How has your chosen industry changed / evolved over the years? Have the benchmarks of ‘success’ in your industry also changed in your opinion?

It went from new, to booming, to unprecedented (Covid times). Ten years in this career – I dare say it has been a roller coaster ride. Never a dull day in hospitality, as they say! Hotels were once a place where people simply stayed at when traveling and food was just what was offered. Today a hotel is so much more! It’s about the service, anticipation, storytelling, immersive experiences.

6. How do you define success for yourself both within and outside of your career?

Growth and progression. In any role that I am in, moving up the corporate ladder is my benchmark and an indication towards being a better marketer.

As for success beyond my career, it’s really about new experiences. Whether it’s in a new hobby, or in trying out new flavours at a restaurant or discovering different cultures through travel! I remember promising myself end of 2016 that I will travel once a month for at least a year. I ended up doing it for 3 years! Kenya, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, New York, Sydney…etc I experienced them all, before the pandemic! I don’t know about you but once the borders reopen – I’m going to be right back at it!

7. What are the three skills you think millennials require today to truly be successful?

Brace yourself, all my three skills are soft skills as I am a strong believer that hard skills can be taught with the job but soft skills are fundamental foundations that have to be cultivated! So those who have just started in your career – listen up!

Self-Awareness – always be aware whether you are in a social gathering at work or in a formal meeting. Timing is everything – knowing when to support your boss, knowing when to give assurance to a teammate or knowing when to share an idea. You should never be afraid to voice your opinion, but it’s also important to voice and influence at the right time.

Resilience and perseverance – there is a misconception that it’s easier to get projects approved in big organizations, as they would have the funding to support it. I beg to differ. You will be surprised that a lot of your ideas, 8/10 times you get rejected! If not more! You just need one person who has the power to say OK.

In your journey, you will also meet a lot of people who aren’t so nice; a peer, a boss, sometimes even your very own teammate- But don’t ever let it beat you down. Learn from it, reflect upon it and then do it again but better.

Which brings me to my last skill – Attitude. If I can have all three skills be attitude, I would! Cause it is so important – having a positive mindset, being open minded to criticism and most importantly to stay humble and true to yourself. A quote that has followed me since the beginning of my journey:

“The biggest challenge is not to be successful in business but to be successful whilst remaining the woman you want to be” – Margaret Heffernan.