Bowe champions mentorship
“Mentoring is mission critical. For the industry to move forward, it is important to bridge all of the experiences of the past with the needs of the future,”Stuart Bowe toldGuardian Businesslast week.
It was around the 7:00 a.m. hour on a Friday when Bowe was able to carve a few minutes from his day to talk a little about his romance with the tourism industry and the job he said he loves, with its brusque pace and opportunities for interaction.
Bowe is the senior vice president and general manager of Atlantis Coral and Beach Towers, as well as the president of the Bahamas Hotel Association(BHA). He is himself a mentor/bridge, providing young professionals with a link to the collective wisdom of his mentors–the likes of Barrie Farrington, George Myers, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, and Karen Carey.
Those four are only some of the important people who have helped to guide the tourism executive on his path, and each shared experiences and wisdom along the way. Farrington, for example, imparted the value of the relationship between happy employees and happy guests. Perhaps the lesson can be heard when Bowe spoke about the importance of human capital.
“Employees are the base of the organization, and I believe, truly, that the development of human capital is the key to any business, and the future of our country as well as our industry,”he said.
Bowe is now enrolled in a PhD program in Applied Management and Decision Sciences, with a focus on Leadership and Organizational Change. He is a believer in the’new service culture’which factors into his current management style.
“It’s just so important that organizations are responsive to the work environment and have products that are developed by customers, using primary data supported with leadership styles that are inclusive of employees and managers sharing in common goals,”he said, describing what this service culture is. He said such structures allow organizations to be’nimble’–a necessity in today’s dynamic and highly competitive environment.
Bowe plans to be a lecturer and hospitality consultant one day, and said that with two decades of practical experience in the local and global tourism arenas, his educational experience and the social organizations he is a part of he should bring great depth to lecturing and consultancy.
Some of Bowe’s international exposure came from his Atlantis Palm Jumeirah Resort experience. When he left for Dubai in 2008 to assist with the Palm’s grand opening under another mentor, Amadeo Zarzosa, the plan was for him to be there a month. He returned in May of last year after a successful two-year stint as vice president of resort operations at the 1,500-plus room, 5-star resort.
“That was one of the periods in my career that obviously changed me and made me and provided priceless exposure,”Bowe said.”The experience in the region is something you could never trade.”
Exposure to the global tourism industry, guests, and co-workers from multiple cultures and countries was a daily occurrence. It also afforded him the opportunity to travel to destinations throughout the Middle East, Hong Kong, Bangkok, the Maldives, Europe, and India. He took away valuable lessons about Eastern management styles, and the need to cater specifically to cultural differences in customers. He said it also opened his eyes to the emerging Indian and Chinese trend of family travel, where three generations typically travelled together; the challenge for the global hotel industry. The workforce in the East generally spoke two languages at the very least, and Bowe said that there is a lesson here for The Bahamas.
“I would suggest a second language, especially in this part of the world.”Bowe said.”Spanish would be a great second language because we transact large amounts of business with Latin-based companies. More recently, the Ministry of Tourism announced that Copa Airlines will be coming to the Bahamas in June 2011″said Bowe.
Bowe had a number of other suggestions for entrants to the industry. He encouraged young people to be life-long learners, to travel and explore, and to get that second language. He is excited about the future of the industry, and the workforce development programs the BHA is running at the primary, high school, and tertiary levels.”We are building partnerships with many stakeholders. These partnerships are mission critical to providing and sustaining the industry’s workforce needs.
“We are getting the programs now into the primary school levels so we can create awareness on the broad base of jobs we have in the industry,”Bowe said. He listed a score of professionals needed in the industry, including engineers, scientists, plumbers and human resource professionals.
Bowe is an avid reader and loves Junkanoo. He has been a drummer with the Valley Boys since 1975, likes watching and playing sports like football, and is a lifetime member of the Bahamas National Trust.
No story about Bowe and mentorship would be complete without two special mentions, however. An early mentor was Rodney Williams, who gave him the chance to work at McDonalds and was instrumental in him going to college. The most important mentorship relationship for him started even earlier though.
“Along with my strong family base the person who has guided me most, and the greatest mentor in my life is my grandmother. She shaped me,”Bowe said.”Whether I wanted to be shaped or not, she has shaped me,”Bowe laughed.