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Hotel leader says in-person communication is best

March 24, 2004

Photo of Starbucks manager and SFSU student Dan Mui explaining the company's tuition reimbursement plan to a job seekerPeople become infatuated with technology and forget that the best communication is conducted face-to-face said the keynote speaker at the Hospitality Management Department's 10th annual symposium and career fair.

Jon Handlery, senior vice president and general manager of the Handlery Hotels in San Francisco and San Diego, told 300 students, professors, alumni and hospitality industry executives not to "let technology control you" and that "personal contact is not outdated."

The soon-to-be chairman of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau's Board of Directors does not have a laptop or cell phone and only recently started using e-mail. He refuses to use call waiting because he feels it is rude to callers and hates the misuse of memos.

"I hate it when people put out memos. It's better to talk first verbally to their faces," said Handlery, who practices personal contact with both employees and customers and encourages them to do the same.

Sponsored by the Hospitality Management Department, the Career Center, the College of Business Student Services Center and the Hospitality Management Society, this year's symposium at Seven Hills Conference Center drew 300 people, the largest attendance in its 10-year-history. The theme was "The Current and Future Dynamics of the Hospitality Industry."

More than 200 students, resumes in hand, met face-to-face with 50 human resource managers from restaurants, hotels and resorts, car rental agencies and the gaming industry at the program's career fair. Companies represented included Starbucks, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa and Cache Creek Casino Resort.

Photo of keynote speaker John Handlery"This is a great event," said Yuzhu Jiang, a senior in the Hospitality Management program's hotel concentration. "I learned a lot and had a lot of interaction with industry people."

Yin-Ni Karen Sung, a senior who is majoring in restaurant management, said it was her first time at the event, and that she would be back next year to find the ideal job. "I always thought of the industry reps as being so hard to approach and so far away, but here they are real and right here in person."

Human resource managers came seeking students to fill their internship, management training and direct placement positions.

"We hired two great employees from last year's fair," said Anita Kwok from the Ritz- Carlton Hotel in Half Moon Bay. "This year I hope to hire more."

In addition to Handlery, other speakers included Walt Disney World's Donna Rowe and Gregory Waldron, and Jan Birnbaum, chef of Catahoula Restaurant in Calistoga. The symposium also recognized scholarship donors, scholarship recipients and the alumnus of the year.

Three hotel management majors were awarded Lawrence Chan Scholarships of $1,000 each for the 2004-2005 academic year. Chan, who is president and CEO of Park Lane Hotels, donated $30,000 to the Hospitality Management Department for student scholarships. The recipients are:

  • Marin Coon, vice president of student alumni relations for the Hospitality Management Chapter of the SFSU Alumni Association, who is putting herself through college.
  • Hyun Joo (Stacy) Yoon, who knew only five words of English when she moved to the United States in December 2000 and now has a 3.4 GPA.
  • Stanley Kong, president of the SFSU Hospitality Management Society, who grew up learning the restaurant business first-hand from his parents, Hong Kong immigrants who opened a restaurant in Fresno.

In addition, Hospitality Management Professor and Chair Janet Sim acknowledged John Love of the H & R Foundation for awarding $14,000 in scholarships to 10 SFSU students this year.

Pedram Pakneshan was named the Hospitality Management Department's 2004 Alumnus of the Year. A fall 2003 graduate, Pakneshan is the assistant food and beverage manager at the MGM Grand Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, the largest resort hotel in the world. He also is founder of the HM Alumni Chapter.

Founded in 1990, the Hospitality Management Department is located in the College of Business and is one of only 20 accredited hospitality management programs in the country.

-- Susan Arthur


San Francisco State University

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Last modified July 27, 2004 by University Communications