We catch up with Marjorie Viera to understand what it’s like to work for an international hotel group every day. We also uncover the inner workings of the business and find out how you can get involved.
Overseeing the food and beverage program at a hotel isn’t as straightforward as it seems. For food and beverage manager Marjorie Viera, it’s akin to running several hospitality businesses at once – all with different offerings, patrons and service styles. It’s a role that requires skill and composure, as well as stellar support from the team around you. We stopped by Hilton Melbourne to find out how Viera pulls it off.
Viera has a wealth of hospitality experience that she’s built on a foundation of passion for the industry. She’s worked in hospo for more than ten years, dines-out close to every night of the week and even married a chef. Viera joined Hilton as a runner in 2015, adamant that she was going to work a few shifts over summer then move on. Years later, we’re catching up on the eve of her eight-year work anniversary with Hilton to find out how she manages multiple arms of the business.
“I found that I loved the job, saw that the team was passionate and that there were opportunities to learn and progress in my career, so I stayed,” Viera says. “Six months later I was a supervisor, a year later I’m an assistant venue manager, then a venue manager and from there I was able to step into this role when Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street opened.”
Viera’s role now means she’s overseeing several elements of the business – each with different diners, menus and experiences in mind. Viera takes care of breakfast, lunch and dinner services at Luci, Hilton Melbourne’s all-day restaurant housed in the building’s heritage-listed Equity Chambers. She also oversees the Douglas Club, a moody bar at the entrance of the building serving up 1930’s-inspired cocktails. Then there’s a corporate arm of the business that Viera runs, spanning executive lunches, conferences and events.
As she walks us around the building, Viera explains that she’ll take the same route during the week to check in with her management team face-to-face.
“I can’t picture myself going to work and doing the same thing every day, I need the dynamic movements and the excitement that Hilton offers,” Viera says, relishing the eclecticism that her role offers. “I have an awesome management team for each department, and I catch up with them on a daily basis to see how I can support them – my role now is about bringing people into Hilton who can do a great job.”
With all these moving parts, Viera doesn’t have a typical day but covers each of her touch-points during the week.
“I’ll check-in with breakfast in the morning, see how the team is feeling, check rosters, check how many guests we are expecting and if we need to hire. I do that in each department during the week,” Viera says. “I have days where I have to catch up on paperwork, and I actually spend a lot of time on reviews so I can see where we can improve and give positive feedback whenever it’s left, too.”
Part of Viera’s role means supporting her team and acting as a sounding board for new ideas. As we’re chatting, she visits the Douglas Club bar to take a look at a team member’s idea for a new cocktail, as well as how to serve it. There’s a lot of trust on display here, and as Viera mentioned earlier, it’s clear that she’s been able to hire the right people for the right role.
There’s a level of experience you notice in the staff when visiting a Hilton. When we point this out, Viera tells us that a lot of what we’re noticing is actually a result of Hilton’s training, and leadership programs. These are focused around service, management, leadership, practical skills and more.
“You pick up so many skills here, these can be in management, language – even writing emails, it’s not just limited to hospo here,” Viera says. “When I started working in management, I went through a training program called Elevate. Now I’m doing another training course called Lead, and even the general manager does training modules.”
“We’re always learning and Hilton invests deeply in your training and development. When I started, my managers encouraged me to take-on learning opportunities and training sessions. They always engage you to progress and learn more here, to be better,” Viera says. “And experience isn’t important if you have the right attitude. I’ve trained bartenders who didn’t know what a negroni was, all because they’ve had a willingness to learn.”
One of the exciting benefits of working with an international hotel brand is the opportunity to travel. Viera has had the chance to work at Hilton in both Sydney and Melbourne. She says that while she’s happy in Australia, there are plenty of her Team Members who are moving to Hilton properties overseas.
“Of course you have the opportunity to move between properties in Australia, but I also have a team member who is moving back home to Japan next year, and we’re organising for them to stay working with Hilton over there,” Viera says. “We’ve had team members from here who’ve moved to Fiji, some have gone to England for a while and come back – it’s a fun aspect of the business that you can only really get with hotels.”
Before we head off, Viera takes a moment to reflect on her time with Hilton as her eight-year anniversary approaches.
“It sounds simple, but we recruit people who share the same passion for hospitality, and that makes this a fun environment to come to work. Not only that, this is a rare hospitality role where you don’t just do your tasks and reset each day, you’re always applying your learning, getting better and working towards a bigger goal of gaining experience all the time,” she says. “It’s a place that you feel you are gaining something. Not just a salary, you’re getting a reward and a real feeling of satisfaction here.”
Photography: Hugh Davison
This article is produced by Scout Jobs in partnership with Hilton.