Growing up in her family’s hospitality business, Maggie has always had hospitality in her blood.
Since she was nine, she used to spend her spare time in the different departments trying to learn more while giving a helping hand.
With a love of travel and working with people a career within the tourism and hospitality industry was a perfect fit.
QRC had always been on her radar since attending Experience QRC while at Waikato Diocesan School for Girls and after completing a gap year, she joined our Hospitality Management programme.
Read more about Maggie’s post QRC story below
On the Couch with Maggie Allan
Why did you choose to follow a career in tourism/hospitality?
My parents have owned hospitality businesses since I was about 9 years old. It was something I had always been around. I used to go into the kitchen and ask the chefs what I could help with, normally it ended up being dishes. I have always loved travel, and spending time getting to know new people, so getting a job in an industry that can take you all over the world was a big motivator.
I love that you can turn up to work each day and you will always be doing something different, meeting someone new, and learning something new.
Why did you choose QRC?
Originally when I finished high school, I wanted to go on a gap year, but I am the type of person who wouldn’t want to do any study when I got back home. Because I was on the fence on what to do, I went on the QRC Career week in the hopes of it helping me decide (clearly it worked J). The career week really opened my eyes to what QRC had to offer. I adore Queenstown, and it was a no brainer choosing to go and study and immerse myself in the Tourism mecca of New Zealand.
Where did you undertake your internship?
I worked as a Food & Beverage Attendant at One&Only Hayman Island in the Whitsundays in Australia. The connections I made on this placement were second to none and I can hand on heart say that I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now without having worked on Hayman Island, which ultimately, I have QRC to thank for connecting me to that job there.
What was the biggest “take away” from your internship experience?
The amount of effort that you put into it is what you will get out of it. I wanted to get as many hours as I could, so if they needed someone to work an extra shift or stay back later / start earlier than rostered, even if I needed to come in on my day off, I was always happy to do so. We were literally getting paid to work in one of the most amazing places as part of our studies, why would I not want to? I wanted to show them that I wanted to be there, so I was willing to go the extra mile. It was so important for me to absorb as much information and knowledge from those people more experienced around me. Engage, ask questions, to get a deeper understanding of why something is done the way it is. Let them see your enthusiasm and drive and that is what will get you recognised.
Tell me about your journey since leaving QRC.
I finished QRC in 2016 and was offered a job back at One&Only Hayman Island as a butler. I returned to the island for 4 months before a really bad cyclone forced the resort to close for 2 years to rebuild. Returning to New Zealand was the best move to allow me to process what had just happened and work out what I wanted to do next. Some friends from Hayman & QRC had taken on jobs at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley and told me they were hiring so I sent my CV and was offered a job as a Guest Service Agent. After 6 months I was promoted to team leader. I worked there for a year and a half before returning to New Zealand. Thanks to a connection I made in Wolgan Valley I took on the role of Reservations Manager for Treetops Lodge in Rotorua & Kinloch Manor & Villas in Taupo. COVID really threw a spanner in the works and the lodges closed for 9 months. Working from home is not my thing and the lack of human interaction really made me appreciate working in the hospitality industry, and also gave me a whole new appreciation for hospitality businesses in general and how much we as a society use them as means of human connection. My partner (who went to PIHMS and wishes he chose QRC instead J) and I bought our first home last year in NZ and were then offered jobs at Ayers Rock Resort. We packed up our house, stored everything rented it out and left NZ within a week of being offered the jobs, because the ease of travel between the two countries was so up and down. It was a very risky move, but a risk well worth taking because we knew we could come over here and save money, gain more work experience and reignite our careers again after having a forced career break over the lockdown period and months that followed it.
What role are you in now?
I work at Ayers Rock Resort, for Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia in the Learning and Development Team, as the Workplace Trainer for the resort. Here we have five hotels, one campground, nine different dining options open at the moment, we have 650 staff currently but in a normal world over 1000 colleagues living and working here at any given time. It is a pretty unique location and experience living and working out here, being 450kms from the closest town it makes you realise how many of life’s little things you once took for granted.
What are your main responsibilities?
My role is carrying out and overseeing workplace training throughout the resort. Not only in the hotels but other departments too like maintenance, tech services, freight services, activities, and the supermarket. It is a varied role in the way that I not only deal with the staff and departments here at the resort, but also with external education providers and outside facilitators from Universities, St Johns ambulance and more. I spend my days liaising with the General Managers and Department Heads to identify areas where more training may need to be provided. Time is also spent creating content for our learning management system, developing training modules specific to different departments training needs, creating videos and voiceovers, screen recordings and so much more.
We also have an orientation every fortnight so I am involved in that aspect of delivering those to all new employees.
How did your time at QRC help prepare you for your current job?
The small classroom environment really helped me to get the most out of my learning. The support and guidance you get from the tutors from my experience was amazing. Looking back now it has also given me an idea of the kind of trainer I want to be, and some ways that I can approach different learning and ways of teaching. Without going to QRC and getting my internship placement I wouldn’t have the knowledge nor the experience across a hotel operation to set me up for the role I’m in now. The understanding that I have of each department has put me in good stead to understand how the operation works and what areas can be improved or what they can do to be better or do differently.
What do you enjoy the most about your current position?
The diversity, not only in the responsibilities of my role, but getting to work with people from all over the world. We strive to change lives through cultural tourism. That is not only changing lives of our guests but also changing the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, through providing them with employment opportunities and our National Indigenous Training Academy. It is really fulfilling to see once they have completed the training academy, then transitioning into the workplace and really flourishing in their roles.
What are the challenges?
As much as I don’t want to use it as a challenge, COVID has been one for sure. The pool of staff to hire has significantly reduced here in Australia, and the borders being locked down has made it hard to recruit new staff, therefore a lot that are coming on board at the moment are less experienced than what we would typically have. Although a lot of time is being spent training these new employees at the moment it is also super rewarding, knowing that what we are doing as a department and a workplace may ignite their passion for the hospitality industry, and the skills that they gain here and knowledge that we instil in them, they can go on to grow and develop and be great employees in another business in the future.
What are your plans for the future?
Working in Australia has opened up many doors, in particular it has allowed me to save more than what I would if I was living in New Zealand and working in the same job. At the moment we are working on saving to buy a second house in order to have a secondary source of income which will then allow me to work in a job that I am passionate about and enjoy doing rather than having to worry so much about pay. Job satisfaction is a big thing for me, and being passionate about what I do versus doing something for the money. I am really enjoying this new path I have taken within learning and development and feel that it has opened a new set of doors for me. I would love to continue in this field and hope that a job in New Zealand will open up in the next couple of years when I am looking to return home.
What’s the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?
“Everything happens for a reason”
I have always stressed a lot about everything. My parents have always said to me to me not to worry so much and everything happens for a reason, it will all fall into place. I truly believe that and where I am and who I am now is a reflection of the experiences and everything that has happened in my life.
Any words of wisdom to young people starting on their career?
Take every opportunity you can to get experience and build connections. The hospitality industry is incredibly small, and you will be surprised who knows who. Don’t sit around and wait for people to offer you opportunities, put yourself out there and show people that you want it. Work hard and good things will follow.
We wish Maggie the best as she continues her upward journey.