Haytham Aziz, hotel manager, Coral Beach Resort Sharjah. Haytham Aziz, hotel manager, Coral Beach Resort Sharjah.

What attracted you to the hospitality industry?

It was mere coincidence. My older brother was working at a well-known hotel in Cairo, and after finishing my university final exams, he offered me an internship at the hotel as part of my after-school training. My intention was only to spend one month at the hotel. However, I was utterly fascinated by the hospitality industry and that one month has turned into 17 years and counting. I still remember the feeling of my first day at the hotel, it was the same as bringing a child to a candy shop.

How different is your current role from the earlier one?

I was in charge of the front office and rooms operation as an executive assistant manager; now as a hotel manager it is a larger scope of work and bigger responsibility which involves overseeing the entire hotel operations. Empowering people and trusting your team is the key to success. The approach I have is creating and following a system-based management style with clear communication of the targets.

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How do you ensure your staff remains driven in the hotel?

Our team is our greatest asset. In our industry, quality control of employee attitude and performance is pretty much the equivalent of product quality control for a manufacturer. It is critical for our long-term success to instill the right values in our people through learning and development that in turn will help to bolster performance ensuring the very best for our guests. My approach is to give the staff smart targets with manageable timelines along with the right motivation. And more importantly to appreciate their work and inspire them to always give the best of themselves.

What are some of the challenges you face, and how do you overcome these?

We are facing exactly the same challenges as faced by the industry. So far, 2017 has been an extremely productive and successful year that brought both challenges and opportunities. The fact that we have an outstanding product, facilities, and location on the beach is a definite plus, but there are other basic strategies that we have put in place which include a pragmatic business plan, integrated marketing, and aligned sales tactics, all underpinned with an uncompromising commitment to quality. In any given situation, capitalising on our experience, we strategically deploy and optimise our resources to address the challenges and to add value to our offering. As an example, the Coral Beach Resort Sharjah recently underwent a complete refurbishment of rooms and facilities that has given it a brand new appeal. Our challenge was to finish the renovation in the shortest possible time without any disturbance to our guests during their stay. Thanks to my team, despite the renovation, we were able to manage the operation smoothly and retain the No. 1 position on TripAdvisor for Sharjah.

You have worked across the UAE: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, and now Sharjah. Do you see any differentiating factors among these markets?

Abu Dhabi is considered a corporate destination, Dubai is for leisure, while Ajman and Sharjah are growing as family destinations. Ultimately, one has to look at the bigger picture and see the UAE as a whole with each emirate offering something unique. Each emirate supports and complements the other.

What are some of your career highlights, and what would you say are your ambitions for the future?

I was a part of the pre-opening team of the Aloft Hotel in Abu Dhabi, the first of the brand in the Middle East, part of the rebranding team of The Sheraton Hotel Mall of Emirates, and the recent highlight of my career is the renovation of the Coral Beach Resort Sharjah. My ambition for the future is to continue being a part of the hospitality sector and keep driving my group to success and expansion.