Over the past four months I’ve been at the Lord Elgin Hotel, I have seen the extreme leadership and passion that is driven through our GM, David Smythe. It is very clear the respect that everyone in the hotel has towards him and his hard work.
I really benefit from sitting through the 9am daily meetings where every department of the hotel discusses what is happening in their specific area that day. It’s a pleasure to listen to David speak with thorough knowledge of the hospitality industry through different ideas and opinions. He is very busy yet always seems to be organized and calm.
I sat down with the family man and began my interview with five questions.
-What got you interested in the hospitality industry?
My first job was bussing tables at the Royal Military College in Kingston. After that, other jobs that came along weren’t nearly as fun or as interesting. I kept gravitating towards working in restaurants and bars, and eventually went to school for that.
-How did you come to work at The Lord Elgin Hotel?
I received a phone call from my now boss Raymond St. Pierre when I was working at the Holiday Inn in Kanata. He called me up and asked if he could have lunch with me, and it went from there!
-What is it you like best about your job as General Manager?
What I really like best is when I know the hotel has been busy, and the entire team fulfilled our promise of service worthy of a Lord. As well when I know each one of our guests and groups have gone home feeling excited about how their stay was. That’s the best feeling right there- you feel so proud.
-Can you describe yourself with one word?
-What is something you would like to improve on, whether in the work atmosphere or life in general?
Personal, I would like to be able to run 10k again. In the workplace, I want the next round of renovations to take this hotel to the next level. That’s what I’d really, really want to happen- both in product and in service.
[To switch up the pattern of my blog, I next asked David to finish 15 of my sentences…]
1. The biggest challenge(s) I face are … business challenges. That’s a reality that is very difficult due to the reduced travel into Ottawa from large business. Things that are beyond our control and not knowing where the Canadian economy is going. It brings challenges and issues for ownership and management. We as managers have to deal with them as they come with a positive and constructive manner and that’s a challenge some days. We must find ways to deals with these changes.
2. The Lord Elgin is … it’s funny , if you were to ask most people they would say The Lord Elgin is a hotel. When you ask me, I would say Andrew Bruce, the current Lord Elgin who resides in Scotland.
3. People always tell me … they have stayed at the Lord Elgin. Or that their parents have stayed there, or their parents have got married there, or their grandparents. It happens all the time. At the Thunder Bay Airport, on a ski lift in Whistler, chatting with people who say “I know the Lord Elgin, I was there 20 years ago.” It’s great that the hotel is recognized all over Canada.
4. The television show I watch … currently, is Game of Thrones. And when Homeland comes back on I’ll certainly watch that.
5. A place I like … first thing that came to mind is Kingston. It’s my hometown. I’m very fond of Kingston. It has the lake, the Thousand Islands, and charm.
6. My fondest memory … my kids being born. Each different, each so memorable.
7. My father taught me … family is everything.
8. I would really like to meet … interestingly, one of the people I wanted to meet was Isadore Sharp, founder of the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts chain. And guess what? I met him 10 days ago in Toronto at the OHI Awards. Cool, eh! In the industry he is the one person I wanted to meet.
9. I’ve always been fascinated by … how nature finds a way to remind all of us that human’s don’t control everything.
10. If I could be any superhero … I’d be Iron Man.
11. My guiltiest pleasure … sweets. I like sweets. Chocolate, cake, French pastries, you name it. It gets the better of me.
12. I’m really bad at …being patient.
13. My greatest talent is … I don’t have one. I just have a lot of things that I seem to do well at, or with.
14. Five years from now … I want to be the proudest GM in Ottawa.
15. My favourite motto or saying is … do the right thing.