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Your insider’s guide to: Working in a senior HR role at a leading hotel

Posted on 30/05/2023 by

We hear from Carol Mendes (centre), Assistant Director of Human Resources for Cordis Hotel, about her career and what it’s like working in HR.

Travel and tourism is an incredibly broad industry, with many different pathways to take.

To help highlight the range of options available to our graduates, we’re getting in touch with some of our industry connections to learn a little more about the different jobs and what it’s like to work in them.

We’ve heard about what it’s like to work in bungy jumping, and this time we’re taking a completely different perspective. We’re chatting to Carol Mendes, the Assistant Director of Human Resources for Cordis Hotel.

Read on to learn about her story, and what she looks for in new employees. 

Can you tell our readers about your career? What roles did you do before you became the Assistant Director of Human Resources for Cordis Auckland?

I started my career as manager for a hostel in Rio (Brazil). Then moved into hotels as receptionist and fell in love with guest relations and people management. Working for Accor in Brazil, I became the youngest front office manager in the country – I was 21 years old.

Over 10 years in operations meant I moved around different managerial roles, including executive housekeeper for a pre-opening hotel here in New Zealand. Operations Manager was my last role before moving into Human Resources full time as an advisor, then manager and now Assistant Director of HR.

What is the career journey of someone working in Human Resources or in Hotels like the Cordis Auckland?

In either case, I believe your career will be a reflection of what you choose to focus on. In my case, the focus was always people. I always knew I wanted to work around public, so I chose roles that allowed me to be guest facing, people management, training and finally Human Resources.

What does the average day look like for someone who works in your role?

Cordis Auckland has over 450 colleagues so there’s never a dull day in the HR department! I usually work from the office so colleagues can come in anytime to ask questions or to chat, which is a nice break from the reporting, planning and strategy I do on my day to day with the HR team. Meetings with colleagues, managers and other stake holders are also part of my routine.

 What would surprise us about working for a hotel like the Cordis Hotel?

We are very sustainability focused and this topic sits within Human Resources too. We have an internal sustainability program for the whole Langham Hospitality Group called CONNECT. Inside CONNECT we have several goals (e.g.: ending waste to landfill by 2030, increasing energy and water efficiency, etc), events (e.g.: colleague wellness month, happiness day and etc) and contribute to our community with hundreds of community service hours every year (e.g.: beach clean ups, fundraising activities, etc).

What do you look for in employees who want to work at the Cordis?

The main thing we look for in a candidate is their attitude. Meeting someone who is keen to work and learn is really exciting for a manager! We believe in learning and development in all levels and have a dedicated learning and development manager inside the HR department, which means we can provide interested colleagues with the skills they are required for their role, but positivity, will to learn, curiosity and excellence seeking, are part of a posture that come from within.

Is there anything that is unique about the Cordis Hotel?

I’d say we are a pretty unique hotel in New Zealand. Our dedication to heartfelt kiwi service, size, quality of product, bespoke spa and amazing restaurant really make us stand out. But our colleagues are really what make us unique. The dedication and passion of every single person who works here is what create great memories to all guests, customers and colleagues who set foot in our property.

Is there anything new or exciting coming up for the Cordis?

It’s the first whole year of operations since we opened our Pinnacle Tower so 2023 should be our best year yet, with lots of events (for colleagues and guests) planned, a steady occupancy and great staffing levels. Keep an eye on our Instagram for constant updates!

Do you have any final advice for anyone who wants to work in our industry?

Never close a door. Our industry (and country) is all connected and our market values a well referred candidate, so make sure you leave great memories everywhere you work and for sure you will collect great ones in your future too.

Get qualified with ITC or Study From Home

Whether you’re interested in working in hotels, getting into the human resources side of tourism, or something else, ITC and Study From Home can be the perfect starting point.

Our qualifications provide the foundational knowledge for these industries, providing you with the basics you need to get a foot in the door in travel and tourism. If you’d like to learn more about our courses, we’d love to hear from you!

Study From Home – 0800 TOURISM (0800 868747) or

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