We met general manager of Sheraton Bishkek, who came to Kyrgyzstan from Turkey, and learned about his approach to hospitality.
Aytekin Karayaka, 49 years old, Bishkek city, General Manager of Sheraton Bishkek, linkedin
About the career and development of Sheraton Bishkek
I came from Turkey. In our country there is a system of Vocational High Schools, when students study a certain specialty before entering the university. I studied at the Vocational High Schools Hotel Management for four years. Later I received higher education in Turkey and in the USA. In total, I have devoted ten years of my life to learning.
I started my career in the hotel business in high school. I have been working since 1999 — for more than 30 years. Of these, only three weeks was not an employee of the hotel. I went through all the positions: worked in the department of beverages and food, in housekeeping, in sales, at the front desk. I became a general manager seven years ago.
Now I am the general manager of Sheraton Bishkek. I've been working here for almost two years.
This is a five-star premium hotel, which was opened in October 2019. Despite the covid limitations, team and I have achieved good results. We became No. 1 hotel in Bishkek. We have launched a successful restaurant with a beautiful view of the city.
We get good reviews. We see that customers come back to us again and again.
About corporate culture
I have been working at Marriott for over 20 years. This is the best company I've ever been a part of. It owns more than 8000 hotels in the world. Puts employees as priority No.1.
There is a strict corporate culture that must be observed. We care about the development of employees. We invest a lot of resources in people and their training.
When I arrived, there were 70 people working in the team. Now we have 203 employees. It can be difficult to find suitable staff, but we choose people who are ready to study and teach them the standards of work at a Marriott hotel.
Company has a portal MGS — Marriott Global Source, where all the information about the standards of work is collected. Even I still haven't studied everything there, because the resource contains millions of documents in different directions.
What should a leader be like
The work of a general manager is not much different from the work of an ordinary employee. I am the same team member, but with different responsibilities.
It is important for a manager to be able to lead a team, to be a leader. Not only to achieve results, but also to inspire people. I am attentive to young employees. If they want to develop, grow up the career ladder, I try to be a good example for them.
It is important for a manager to be able to lead a team, to be a leader
I didn't go to university right away. To do this, it was necessary to pass preparatory training and successfully pass the exam. Therefore, after graduating from school, I worked as a waiter to pay for preparatory courses. After nine months of preparation, I passed the exam, but unsuccessfully. As a result, I had three unsuccessful attempts. No one believed in me anymore, but in the fourth year I passed the exam and entered.
These four years have changed me. I have learned to be patient, persistent, and believe in myself. That's why I often share my story with employees. I want them to understand how important it is to believe, dream and work. I am glad when colleagues achieve their goals and share their gratitude with me.
It is important to be patient, friendly, positive. Develop communication skills. Transfer your knowledge and experience. Especially in an industry where the main product is a service. Your smile alone will charge the employees with the right mood, and they will charge the guests.
Problem-solving skills and business thinking are also important. The ability to listen and hear people. Delegate responsibilities competently.
About the advantages and difficulties
I like working in the hotel business. This is my lifestyle. I'm used to having to work hard, that I don't have days off and holidays.
I like to communicate with people. You can talk to each client on topics that are interesting to him. So now I can talk about psychology, business, politics. About anything.
I start work at 08:00 and finish at 21:30-22:00. Sometimes I stay until 00:00-01:00. Working in a hotel requires good organization, because everything changes quickly. There are unexpected meetings, there are hundreds of calls a day. In order not to forget anything, I take notes, prepare for meetings in advance. I make a schedule for a day, a week. I use reminders in Outlook. I also have an assistant helping me.
About the plans
There is no hotel that does not develop and change every day. We recently opened a small terrace. Now we are changing our restaurant, opening an additional terrace. There are plans to open a Turkish hammam, add adjacent rooms.
You cannot survive without development and changes. We learn new things every time to stay relevant.