Rebecca Blair Roth is a student in ICE’s Hospitality Management Program. Her class is learning about the business of the travel and tourism industry. The class is frequently visited by industry experts, helping guide students on the track to culinary careers in the industry.
When I think of Flushing, Queens, two things immediately come to mind. As a tennis fan, I think first of the US Open, and second of the theme song from The Nanny. But all Fran Drescher impersonations aside, Flushing, to Ed Staniszewski, is home to the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel where he is currently General Manager. Last week we were fortunate enough to have him speak to our class and give us some much needed managerial advice.
According to Staniszewsk, the definition of a manager consists of two things. One is to understand the feelings of your staff. Second, is that everything will fall apart without the proper foundation. With over 20 years of industry experience, he definitely knows the power of a strong staff and what they can provide for your hotel to run successfully.
As a general manager, you have to wear many hats and play not only the role of a leader, but a big brother, a father figure or even a therapist to your staff. In many ways, I feel like Staniszewski is the General of his Hotel Army and he is sending his troops into battle every day. Having all these personalities under one roof, you have to oversee the pulse of what is happening and he needs to know “what is making them act this way” and “how can we resolve this issue?” Though these phrases look like posters that you would see on a high school guidance counselor’s wall, they have become the mantra for many hotel general managers.
Starting off his hotel career as a bellman while attending college, Staniszewski worked as a computer programmer but was lured back into hotel life after it didn’t excite him anymore. He realized how much he loved being around people and not sitting at a desk all day. So, from a Guest Service Agent and to working his way up to GM, Staniszewski’s career path in hospitality has shown us that if you are observant, diligent and are willing to try anything then things will eventfully pay off. His advice was to be a sponge and focus on where you want to be in your career and envision how long will it take to achieve these goals.
Staniszewski’s current position shows us that sometimes you may choose jobs for different reasons. Every so often you have to ask yourself, “at what cost?” and reevaluate where you are in your life. There was a time when the allure of a hospitality management position at a luxury, 1,000-room Manhattan hotel may have sounded fabulous to him. But, being like a doctor on call and not getting to spend quality time with his family led him to a property where he can really shine as a big fish in a smaller pond. He has found the right balance at the Sheraton LaGuardia East and he is able to know his staff on a more individual level. In my personal opinion, that is what the definition of a manager should be.