“It's not where you start that matters but where you choose to finish,” recalls newly appointed Savoy Hotel Mactan Newtown general manager (GM) Josef Chiongbian. Those are among the numerous words of wisdom that his father, the late Victoriano "Nonoy" Chiongbian, would constantly utter to him during those precious father-son moments he often enjoyed.
The patriarch was a well-respected and celebrated business tycoon known to have grown and strengthened the culture of cockfighting through the biggest cockfighting arena in Cebu, the Century Game Club that was opened in the 60’s by his late father, Alexander Chiongbian Sr., and which he fully took charge of in 1991. This led him to finally open his own Grand Tejero Arena in 2010 that continues to run to this very day.
He is also known for his influence on numerous civic groups which include various Homeowners Associations, the Lions Club International, of which he became the district governor from 1999 to 2000, and Toastmasters International, to name a few. Though despite the many hats he confidently wears, it is undeniable that to his own family, he will forever be daddy.
GM Josef, known to many as “Jot,” shares one particular encounter with his dad way back on his first month as a first-time GM.
“He asked me to join him for breakfast one day and gave me a very simple yet important advice: to always have a heart and to treat everyone fairly regardless of his rank.”
If there’s anything his dad was known for, it would be “his fairness.” He further shares, “Our personal family business always had the tag line ‘Honesty and fair play.’ We make no exceptions, and dad surely enforced fairness.” Though true to many that it is easy to praise and reward peers, it is difficult to reprimand them when needed. “But not my dad,” he says.
The hotelier adds, “Dad continuously mustered up the courage to respectfully reprimand peers, mentors, those considered as VIPs when circumstances called him to do so.” With no regard for the stature, each one, personnel and guests alike, received what was due. With this, Nonoy’s beloved cockpit arena is now a premier arena in the Visayas known not only for its outstanding facility, but for its well-managed and reputable operations.
Despite GM Jot’s extensive experience in the hotel industry that he gained from joining international brands in the past, he admits that there’s still so much to learn every day. He remembers his dad saying, “Never be afraid to reach out and ask for help. It will not make you less of a leader.” He recalls, “This for me is very unforgettable because that was the first time I had that long, deep and meaningful conversation with him.
With a sterling 14-year track record of leading teams across different departments including the front office, restaurants, sales and events under GM Josef’s belt, his dad would continuously remind him that making changes is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it takes courage and even strength to admit the need to change. As he adds, “There is no shame in changing course when we find ourselves stuck in a rut. We must have the courage to get out of there and go toward what makes it right for you.”
Marching forward as he faces a new and higher leadership role, the young GM identifies three levels of priorities that will bolster confidence in his people and the industry as a whole:
Inspire and influence
He explains, “Our people in the team are the core of the business. We have to continue to strengthen them, build them and they will keep the business upright and competitive even in the most trying times.”
Entrust and delegate
He says, “We can't do everything on our own. We have to learn how to distribute the task to keep everyone involved to keep things running.” Running a hotel is similar to a well-oiled machine where every bolt, spring and gear plays a crucial role that contributes to overall success.
One can influence and inspire through good behavior. It is important for leaders to consistently model the values and correct when they see the opposite. Lastly, one has to keep his values present and visible.
There is much to celebrate for the excited general manager. “Being part of the largest homegrown hotel chain that now has 11 properties and with the most number of room keys nationwide, we can only grow more in confidence with Megaworld Hotels and its many flourishing brands. One can’t help but feel truly proud to be one with a property that offers excellent service with rooms, amenities and a membership program that is world-class.”
“Without a doubt, to have reached the GM position at a young age is quite daunting,” says GM Josef. But as his dad would always tell him, “If there is something that you do that scares you, then it is something very important to you. So do it afraid, as long as you are passionate with what you are doing, just do it afraid because fear is the very thing that keeps us from the greatness that is waiting for us.” SPONSORED CONTENT