Balancing the Grind With Fiona Godfrey, Global Director of Revenue Generation at StayWell Holdings

Fiona Godfrey is the Global Director of Revenue Generation at StayWell Holdings, one of the largest hotel management groups in Asia Pacific.

As part of her role, Fiona directs the revenue generation function across a network of over 75 properties with locations across Australia, India, Indonesia, and United Arab Emirates.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’ve been in hotels for a very long time, but I fell into it by accident really. Many, many years ago, just after getting married, my husband and I moved to Melbourne with his work and his company put us up in a hotel whilst we were resettling and looking for a permanent residence.

During our stay at the hotel, I got to know the GM and Executive Committee really well, so the GM knew that I was looking for a new job in Melbourne and offered me a position on the front desk, which I accepted. That was my start, and I was hooked!

Over the years I’ve worked my way up through operations, event management, and sales and marketing – soaking up everything that I possibly could of the hotel business along the way.

My current role with StayWell Group is as Global Director of Revenue Generation, which is responsible for the sales, marketing, distribution and revenue optimisation for the group and the hotels that we own or manage, and I’m still soaking up as much as I can, especially across other departments.

My role is varied, and every day is challenging. It’s a great job, and having worked across such a breadth of the industry gives me a balanced insight.

Having been at hotel level – meaning, at the coalface, working in the hotels – I have great insight and understanding of where our hotel staff are coming from. This combined with understanding the overarching business also gives our hotels comfort.

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2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Given the current global situation of COVID-19 and its impact on the tourism and travel industries, my day in the life currently changes every hour! For that reason, I’ll describe a day prior to current situation.

My usual routine would be waking up early and walking my puppy for an hour. When I’m out walking in the park, I use the moments that I’m not scrambling to catch up with puppy to think about the day ahead.

This gives me the chance to get some clarity and set priorities for not just the day but also what needs to be done in the next few weeks.

When I get in to the office, the team grabs coffee and has a morning meeting where we discuss key priorities, and who we’re all meeting with and why, which enables cross exposure into the different areas of the business.

We also talk about outcomes from the previous day. As an example, This morning’s meeting was quite interesting, not only did we talk about ‘business priorities’ but a chat about how everyone is feeling in this current environment.

I think everyone manages things differently, and times of stress and uncertainty are no different – some people are very anxious and some are very “what will be will be” – but regardless, it’s good to talk about these things.

As we are a global business with hotels across the globe we usually focus on the Australian and Asian portfolio from 9am – 3pm, then we see a shift to our international portfolio in Europe, India and the Middle East from about 5pm-8pm.

With conference calls and projects kicking off in the afternoon to mid-evening to ensure we get an even spread across the business, it can mean quite long days. That said, I love the diversity that comes from working with a global company, and in the Australian market that’s quite rare an opportunity.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Yes it does. StayWell Group offers flexible working arrangements and really looks after the team.

We have the option of working from home one nominated day per week if we want to. This is a great option for a lot of people because it breaks up the week and gives you the opportunity to have different scenery for a day. Sometimes the separation from the regular interruptions that are inevitable in an office environment also means I can achieve a lot during a day at home.

We also offer flexibility in our working day to suit our team members’ needs. By offering our team flexibility it enables them to start and finish the day outside of standard office hours, either by avoiding traffic or facilitating the school pick up and drop.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

For me, it’s having the right work-life balance that breeds success! Giving your teams the opportunity to find the balance means we will be more successful plus we will be able to retain talent in what can be a challenging time to recruit great people.

Having flexible working arrangement means that our team plans better and understands the priorities of what needs to be done. I trust my team, and they respond to that.

However, in any business and no matter how flexible you might be, it’s important to remain realistic because at the end of the day, it’s impossible to fit everything in all the time, and there is always a need for compromise.

5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

I’m very much a long term planner, and that applies to both work and my personal life, and I think that’s one of the best habits I have. Regarding work, I always know what we need to achieve every day, every week and month, and I always have a long term plan as well.

One of the best routines I have in place is meeting the team every day. Now more than ever this is so important because we work in an environment that is changing dramatically every day, and the situation is different again in each country in which we operate. I like to keep everyone informed and give them the power to react quickly, and you need to be able to do this as a team.

We need to be nimble and reactive, but it’s also important to not lose focus of the long term strategy. In times like this, you need to be flexible but you also need to have a plan, and communication is critical.

This is the fastest way to success – and success to me is achievement of the goals you’ve set for yourself both professionals and personally. That said, I think that success is also about being happy with what you do, and enjoying what you do.

I don’t think you can be successful if you don’t enjoy what you do and if you’re not prepared to fight for what you want.

6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

To be honest I’m actually not a big book reader – partially that’s to do with how little time I have to read books! I do enjoy a good book when on holidays.

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

I’m a little old school, so it’s make a list! My list always comprises the things I need to achieve as well as what I want to achieve for the day.

The list I have at the end of the day is completely different to the one I started with due to the varied tasks that come up, but looking at the completed items gives me a euphoric sensation. I encourage our younger team members to do this too.

The other thing is I don’t just work, go home, eat dinner and go to bed. I always make sure I do something for myself before or after work – whether that’s going for a walk or doing some exercise or catching up with a friend (not these days of course!). I feel that way you go to bed with a clear head and you wake up ready to face the day.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Meghan Markle (LOLS, just kidding). There are a few great women in hotel management who I think would be great sources of inspiration if they put pen to paper.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I think planning your work and your life balance is key – you’ve got to have balance or you won’t be successful, or you’ll burn out easily, but ironically you need to plan to ensure that.

I always say to my daughter, the first thing is you have to do something that you love and are passionate about, and you’ve got to know where that can take you. After that, you have to write your plan and stick to it, and don’t be deviated by what other people think, or other people’s opinions.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.